The O’Jays – Back on Top

ARTIST: The O’Jays 220px-Back_on_Top_O'Jays_1968
TITLE: Back on Top
SINGLES: I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today) (#66, #8 R&B), Look Over Your Shoulder (#89, #27 R&B), The Choice (#94, #41 R&B), I Miss You
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Late 60’s non-Motown deep cuts don’t get played much, do they?
LINEUP: Eddie Levert, William Powell, Walter Williams, Bobby Massey. Plus session players.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Long-standing soul vocal group gets their second taste of success, and records a pretty good record supporting the single. Success is fleeting, though.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The O’Jays had been around since 1960, searching for a hit. They had three R&B hits in 1965 and 1966, but just couldn’t sustain the success on record. (On tour, though, they were popular.)

They moved to Bell Records and recorded I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow in 1967. That was a Top 10 R&B hit, and soon they recorded more singles and enough tracks to fill a 14-track album, released in 1968.

It’s a good representation of non-Motown soul from that period. Excellent group vocals and somewhat sophisticated arrangements. The ONE thing that bothers me, and why I was on the fence to exile this, was that for whatever reason, between each cut, they piped in canned crowd noise. For one, that makes it hard to put these tracks on a playlist or a mix. For two, it sounds cheesy.

Still there’s some good late 60’s soul here and recommended for those who have a good ear for it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Right before this record, founding member Bill Isles quit the group. Right after, Bobby Massey quit and the group once again was looking for a hit and guidance. Enter Gamble and Huff…

Also, they released two albums on Imperial / Minit in 1965 and 1966. They’ve disappeared. I’m not going to flag them as missing because they’re older and pretty minor in the scheme of things.


GRADE: B-: Knocking off two points for the crowd noise. It’s a pretty darn good record otherwise.
LATE NOTE: I did exile this in favor of their compilation.

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