The divas of Gamble & Huff's Philadelphia International stable, the Three Degrees debuted their self-titled album for the label in 1973 before they hit the mainstream with MFSB and "TSOP" the following year. And, although they are so often piggybacked on that glory, it's important to remember that this remarkable trio was already established as one of the country's premier female vocal groups. With successful sides for Roulette already under their belt, The Three Degrees found them combining their already tried and true R&B style with Gamble & Huff's trademark orchestral, instrumental flourish. It was a heavenly marriage that easily, and obviously, brought the band into the Top 40. With the lion's share of "good" material crowded on side one, the set is highlighted by the opening "Dirty Ol' Man," which brought the band's harmonies cascading over the opening strings before they descended into edgier waters. Following apace is a wonderful version of "A Woman Needs a Good Man," before closing with "When Will I See you Again" -- the gorgeous, breathless ballad that nearly topped the charts in 1974. Elsewhere, the band tempers the obvious and silly "I Like Being a Woman" with the overlooked gem "If and When." The song, one of several written by Philly International bigwig Bunny Sigler, is a rough-and-tumble ballad that heats up by merging classic '70s rock elements with the Three Degrees' girl group ethics. Although it's ultimately patchy in places, The Three Degrees was a fine introduction for the partnership between the band and the label that would put them on the map. A fine bridge between sugar soul and the sexy disco strings lurking in the band's future.