The Essential O'Jays

Compilation by released in 2005
The Essential O'Jays's tracklist:
Back Stabbers
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
992 Arguments
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Love Train
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Time to Get Down
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Put Your Hands Down
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
For the Love of Money
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Sunshine
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Give the People What They Want
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Survival
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
I Love Music
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Livin' for the Weekend
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Stairway to Heaven
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Darlin' Darlin' Baby (Sweet Tender Love)
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Use Ta Be My Girl
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
The Big Gangster
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb
Message in Our Music
Low Quality 128Kb Low Quality 128Kb

The Essential O'Jays review

To help celebrate The O'Jays' recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Legacy has issued The O'Jays' entry in its Essential Collection series. With excellent sound and 16 tracks The Essential O'Jays is the go-to choice when it comes to The O'Jays compilations. Much like 2001's outstanding Ultimate O'Jays release, this album covers the group during its most fruitful and commercially successful period from 1972–1975. However, the difference between the two compilations is that The Essential O'Jays offers up four classics from 1976–1978 that weren't included in the Ultimate edition: Darlin' Darlin' Baby, Use Ta Be My Girl, The Big Gangster, and the Philly soul-disco anthem Message In Our Music. But all of the hits that made the The O'Jays one of the most instantly recognizable names in soul music are included, such as their biggest hit, For The Love Of Money. Die-hard fans may already own all of the songs on this collection, but for the casual listener, this is the definitive survey of their career and an outstanding place to start.

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 label. The O'Jays were equally at home singing sweet love ballads or up-tempo dance tunes, the latter of which were often mouthpieces for Gamble & Huff's social concerns. Although The O'Jays couldn't sustain their widespread popularity in the post-disco age, they continued to record steadily all the way up to the present day, modifying their production to keep up with the times.

The "Philly Soul" sound was second only to the Motown sound in defining American soul music and giving it a place on the map and the charts. And The O'Jays (actually from Ohio) were arguably the most accomplished and successful group to work with Gamble and Huff. Everything that's great about Philly Soul – the smooth, effortless melodies; tastefully lush orchestrations; silky harmonies; and tight, whip-smart arrangements – shines through in Essential's best tracks. When you have a song like Love Train, so shimmering, so uplifting, so sincere, so groovy, so perfect…where do you go from there? Well, the O'Jays surrounded Love Train with 1972's Back Stabbers, an album's worth of material that was almost as good. Sensibly, fully half of Back Stabbers is included on Essential, which means you get the pull-no-punches title track, driving 992 Arguments and incomparably cool slow jam Time To Get Down. These tracks highlight everyone involved at the height of their talent and creativity, and the results leave you with goosebumps. The infectious Put Your Hands Together with its triumphant horn charts is a song that actually turns out to be not about dancing but, rather, prayer. For The Love Of Money features one of the Top Five All-Time Basslines Ever as well as some biting social commentary. Stairway To Heaven is not a Led Zeppelin cover but a heartfelt soul ballad with a multi-tiered arrangement that keeps you tuned in for all of its six minutes. These; the funky, phased-out Give The People What They Want; and the gritty, defiant Survival would be the crowning jewels of most soul artists' catalogs. The sound is excellent – pristine yet warm, highlighting the strength of the singing, playing, and arrangements alike. The O'Jays are one of those Important Groups whose music you can also enjoy for pure pleasure. This quality, more than any other, assures their legacy, and helps The Essential O'Jays live up to its name.

(05.07.2005)
Rate review3.41
Total votes - 104