Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Time for the OJays

Whoo-woo another new entry about music!
The OJays have a long history but it wasn't until Gambol and Huff produces take them into their Philadelphia International label in the early 1970's that they broke big and it was around that era that I first got to hear of them being played on the metropolitan radio stations managing to make a big enough antenna for my radio to pull these stations.
Strangely enough one source of hearing them was the journey to school as one of the drivers who took me always had their stuff plus a shedfull of other acts on that label playing out of his car stereo.
Several things hit you of which the first was the production being sparse allowing the musicianship to rise and the vocals to come through clearly.
The second was the arrangements with a strong jazz influence and finally them words - the OJays famously had had 'a message in our music' talking about the state of society - family breakdown, integrity, backstabbers, racism, the importance of love and so on in what in other respects was a cynical no future era. In the OJay's world you could rise above what maybe holding you down.
I was late into getting anything buy the OJays on compact disc and the first title I did get was "Collectors Items" originally released on lp in 1977 which is a collection of special mixes of their earlier songs. Shortly afterwards in the States a number of their early albums got issued by Sony legacy but these were very hard to find and in fact I've only just completed my set with the Backstabbers, Ship Ahoy and Survival studio albums plus the Live In London album issued in 1974.
In late 1998 it was announced that WestSide were to re-issue all their post 1976 albums in the UK the following year and in that period I bought each issue as soon as it came out.
They came in the form of either 2 albums on a single cd or three on 2 cds with one album kind of split between the discs which wasn't ideal but they had very good notes about what was happening with the band, all the singles issued with their 'b' sides and so on.
There were all re-released by Edsel in 2004 in the much better 2 album on one cd format.

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