16 Songs, 1 Hour 10 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

4.4 out of 5
26 Ratings
26 Ratings
BusterJoe ,

The Outstanding O'Jay's

Eddie, Walter, the late William and Sammy made some awesome music together. I loved their music as a poor white kid growing up around the cornfields of the midwest in the 70's and they still sound just as good today. It's not a surprise that the late, great Gerald Levert was as talented as he was.
Thank You,wonderful, talented gentlemen, for all the beautiful music.

SSweetwater ,

Still my favorite group of all-time

The music of the O'Jays for me is timeless. I can remember the first time I heard many of these songs and the emotions I felt over 30 years ago come rushing back with each lyric. When my mother was 16 and the O'Jays were still the Mascots, my grandmother paid them $25 dollars to sing at her birthday party, and from what I hear from my family they sounds great then. My earliest memories are all filled with O'Jay hits and dancing in the front room with my family back in Canton, Ohio, the real home of the O'Jays. I feel that if you are a fan of great music this should definitely be part of your collection. The O'Jays are classic as well as amazing, for me it just doesn't get any better.

Robbie Goldtop ,

A unique Soul/Funk sound

This group came along at a wondeful time in the early 1970's when both the Soul and Rock genres had added in influences of the Funk Sound to the fabric of their music. And, to my ears, its the reason why many of the songs of this era have a depth and groove to them that's missing from a lot of today's tunes. Just listen to "I Love Music" or "For The Love of Money" and you'll hear why the O'Jays had something special going on. I'm so grateful I grew up with this music!

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