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The Essential O'Jays

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iTunes Review

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.

Customer Reviews

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.


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


This album is great!!! The O'Jays were also doing great at the BET awards this year. Kepp the good work going!!


Formed: 1958 in Canton, OH

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The O'Jays were one of Philadelphia soul's most popular and long-lived outfits, rivaled only by the Spinners as soul's greatest vocal group of the '70s. In their prime, the O'Jays' recordings epitomized the Philly soul sound: smooth, rich harmonies backed by elaborate arrangements, lush strings, and a touch of contemporary funk. They worked extensively with the legendary production/songwriting team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, becoming the flagship artist of the duo's Philadelphia International...
Full Bio
The Essential O'Jays, The O'Jays
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