Category: Ohio Players

Ohio Players – Pleasure

ARTIST: Ohio Players                                     220px-pleasureohioplayers

TITLE:  Pleasure

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #63. #4 R&B

SINGLES: Pleasure (#45 R&B), Varee is Love, Funky Worm (#15, #1 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you were funky enough.

LINEUP: Sugarfoot Bonner, Rock Jones, Pee Wee Middlebrooks, Junie Morrison, Andrew Noland, Marvin Pierce, Gregory Webster.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Funk group hits its stride, and breaks out with a novelty hit about…well…a funky worm.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Funky Worm” was a hilarious (well, I think it’s funny) tune about a worm that plays guitar, and features the “Granny”, a character developed by Junie Morrison.

Dang it, though, this is funky and hot all the way through. The synthesizers and keyboards by Morrison were definitely trailblazing, and the rest of the band develops great grooves and hooks in the grooves. The band sounds loose and like they’re having fun, which adds to the atmosphere.

Ballads (first and last cut of side two) still trip them up a bit, and vocals are an afterthought. It’s still quite funky.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Morrison’s ARP synthesizer in “Funky Worm” has been sampled by numerous acts.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few b-sides and leftover cuts. Some great, some not so great.

GRADE: A-: Except for the ballads, this is like nine cans of shaving powder funky.

Ohio Players – Pain

ARTIST: Ohio Players 220px-Painohioplayers

TITLE:  Pain

YEAR RELEASED: 1972

CHART ACTION: #177, #21 Soul

SINGLES: Pain (#64, #35 R&B)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Probably not

LINEUP: Andrew Noland, Gregory Webster, Junie Morrison, Sugarfoot Bonner, Rock Jones, Pee Wee Middlebrooks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The real Ohio Players journey starts here, with an outing halfway in the funk and halfway in the classic soul.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After breaking up and then getting back together minus a few folks, the Ohio Players secured a deal with Funkadelic’s label and recoded their first foray into funk. Kinda.

It’s not as wild and outrageous as Funkadelic, but it did catch notice for its cover and its single, the title track. There was some nascent funk, and some jazzier leanings, while some tracks had more elements of the classic R&B they recorded before.

It was a step in the right direction, and something they could grow on with time. It’s not a vital, must have, but the title track is great.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The Granny character introduced herself in this album, and would appear on them through 1974

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with cover versions that were leftovers.

GRADE: B-: Moving toward the funk, with a keep of a title track.

Ohio Players – Observations in Time

ARTIST: Ohio Players 220px-Observationsintimeohioplayers

TITLE:  Observations in Time

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Here Today and Gone Tomorrow

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Covers of Over the Rainbow and Summertime, because of course.

LINEUP: Sugarfoot Bonner, Pee Wee Middlebrooks, Dutch Robinson, Satch Satchell, Gary Webster, Rock Jones, Andrew Noland, Bobby Lee Fears

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First record from 70’s funk / soul pioneers is more classic R&B than their later work. Covering ballady standards aren’t in their wheelhouse.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sounding more like they came from Stax or Muscle Shoals, this incarnation of the Ohio Players were definitely not groundbreaking or anything but ordinary. MI0002207011

Yes, they were soulful and showcased their chops, and they definitely pulled off the uptempo numbers without a hitch. Whether it’s the arrangements, or the vocalists (Fears and Robinson and not Sugarfoot) the slower jams fell short. “Over the Rainbow” just doesn’t work, and some of the slower originals also don’t quite mesh. There’s a mix problem in “Summertime” as well.

This is a decent historical artifact. It’s always interesting to see where a band started to where it wound up. Just don’t expect the funk.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: By 1970 or so, the band had split, and re-constituted in Dayton without Fears, Noland and Robinson.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C+: It’s not horrible. It’s generic late 60’s sould, which isn’t bad. It’s just not anything special.