35 Songs, 2 Hours 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even the most casual fan of old school R&B should get acquainted with the O’Jays, and The Essential O’Jays is a good place to start. This collection offers the highlights of their classic ‘70s hits for Philadelphia International. Like other purveyors of Philly Soul, the trio harmonized impeccably over well-tailored strings and rhythm tracks. What set them apart was the political content of their songs — when lead vocalist Eddie Levert sang about betrayal in “Back Stabbers” or raw need in “For the Love of Money,” he challenged his audience to think as well as groove. Tracks like “Survival” and “Give the People What They Want” are insistent demands for justice amidst the deceptions of the Nixon Era. The flip side to these angry sentiments is offered in “Love Train” and “Put Your Hands Together.” The O’Jays are masterful at balladry as well, melting hearts effortlessly in “Use Ta Be My Girl” and the gospel-rooted “Stairway to Heaven.” Whatever the song, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s production stays crisp and inventive, whether the mood is spiteful (“992 Arguments”) or celebratory (“Message in Our Music”). The Essential O’Jays is just that: mandatory listening for anyone with a taste for soul.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even the most casual fan of old school R&B should get acquainted with the O’Jays, and The Essential O’Jays is a good place to start. This collection offers the highlights of their classic ‘70s hits for Philadelphia International. Like other purveyors of Philly Soul, the trio harmonized impeccably over well-tailored strings and rhythm tracks. What set them apart was the political content of their songs — when lead vocalist Eddie Levert sang about betrayal in “Back Stabbers” or raw need in “For the Love of Money,” he challenged his audience to think as well as groove. Tracks like “Survival” and “Give the People What They Want” are insistent demands for justice amidst the deceptions of the Nixon Era. The flip side to these angry sentiments is offered in “Love Train” and “Put Your Hands Together.” The O’Jays are masterful at balladry as well, melting hearts effortlessly in “Use Ta Be My Girl” and the gospel-rooted “Stairway to Heaven.” Whatever the song, Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s production stays crisp and inventive, whether the mood is spiteful (“992 Arguments”) or celebratory (“Message in Our Music”). The Essential O’Jays is just that: mandatory listening for anyone with a taste for soul.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.3 out of 5
93 Ratings
93 Ratings
joegrnwave ,

Great collection of songs, but...

While this is an outstanding collection of classic O'Jays, what just kills this collection and brings down my rating is the use of edited versions. 992 Arguments edited down from over 6 minutes to just over 2, Ship Ahoy edited down to just over 4 minutes is blasphemous. Stick with the original full length versions.

Happy Kid ,

Great!

This album shows what real music is. It is a great display for current artists.

Midge317 ,

Essential In Deed!

Anyone looking for the best O'Jays collection, this is it! From their earliest pre-Philadelphia International work straight though to their latest hit's, this has it all!

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