ARTIST: The O’Jays
TITLE: The Essential O’Jays.
YEAR RELEASED: Compilation
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Top 30: Lipstick Traces (On a Cigarette) (#48 US, #28 R&B), Stand in for Love (#95 US, #12 R&B), I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today) (#66 US, #8 R&B), One Night Affair (#68 US, #15 R&B), Back Stabbers (#3 US, #1 R&B, #14 UK), 992 Arguments (#57 US, #13 R&B), Love Train (#1 US, #1 R&B, #9 UK), Put Your Hands Together (#10 US, #2 R&B), For the Love of Money (#9 US, #3 R&B), Give the People What They Want (#45 US, #1 R&B), Survival (#10 R&B), Message in Our Music (#49 US, #1 R&B), Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet Tender Love) (#72 US, #1 R&B, #24 UK), Use ta Be My Girl (#4 US, #1 R&B, #12 UK), Brandy (#79, #21 R&B, #21 UK), Sing A Happy Song (#102 US, #7 R&B, #39 UK), Forever Mine (#28 US, #4 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, that’s a lot of hits up there, isn’t it though?
LINEUP: Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey, Bill Isles. Massey and Isles left in the early 70’s. Sammy Strain came on in the late 70’s.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Vocal group moves from 60’s soul to 70’s Philly Soul and disco without a hitch, leaving a trail of hits and deep cuts collected here for your pleasure.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Casual listeners maybe know three or four of the above songs, but the O’Jays move from a good soul vocal group to a great Philly group under Gamble & Huff is noteworthy, and it shows in the tracks of this compilation.
The depth and breadth of the talent of the O’Jays is on display. They’re comfortable with the funk, but just as comfortable with the slow jams and ballads. They could make you dance, and get you canoodling on the couch.
While some of the individual albums are streaming, I felt this was economical as all of the noteworthy songs are here (mostly), and it shows a great overview of the O’Jays. The later they get, though, the more mediocre the songs, and they last couple of cuts are not necessary.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Due to licensing, some of the songs they cut in the 60’s aren’t streaming in this collection. They ran through about five companies in the 60’s. Also, “Stairway to Heaven” isn’t a cover – it’s an original weeper / pleader.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No
GRADE: A-: Great overview of the group that put on a few too many later songs.