The Last Word
The O’Jays are one the last standing world famous soul performers. They recently released their first album in 15 years, which is their final studio album, The Last Word via S-Curve Records/BMG. Evidently they are bowing out with more iconic masterpieces. Matt Mead reviews for Louder Than War.
Eddie Levert Sr, Walter Williams Sr and Eric Nolan Grant have released some all-time great soul tracks. Backstabbers, Love Train, I Love Music and Livin’ For the Weekend are a just a drop in the ocean compared to the sheer weight of their back catalogue.
Formed in 1963 the band from Canton, Ohio originally consisted of Levert, Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. There have been multiple members changes but the core of Levert and Willams remain, with their distinctive vocal talents, both sounding like they have years still to put into their craft as you listen to this last effort.
The sound on the album is as you expect, classic Philly soul, harmonies swooning, strings prominently transfiguring the listener. The Last Word slips easily into the bands back catalogue as another classic, without sounding dated. I would expect anyone listening to this be in a darkened room wearing flared trousers, high heeled purple shoes, silk shirt open down to the 3rd button with a disco ball glittering in the night sky.
68 Summer Nights reminisces about glory days, being young and free. The best of times are sung loud and proud. Is this the feelings of band embracing the future or the past? Who cares when you’re doing the splits on the dancefloor. Pressure feels like the walls are caving in with their vocals reaching fever point, amounting to something you might feel via a Heatwave. A slow burner amongst the tidal wave of joyous upbeat numbers.
The album as a piece of work feels complete, without blemish, with a solid back beat. The O’Jays will be missed for their smooth harmonies, plus with the ability to write all time classic soul belter, another all-time great are taking their final bow before the curtain comes down on a fabulous career.
All words by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive pages.