For bold, nuanced arrangements, classic songwriting chops, and the richness of gospel-inflected singers working together in perfect harmony, get your ears to Philadelphia. Well, actually you don't have to leave New York--just listen to The O'Jays, one of the classic 1970s groups that developed Philly Soul.
A stylistic precursor to disco, the Quiet Storm sound, and smooth jazz, Philly Soul is rich, layered, and really, really hard not to dance to. Ship Ahoy
, The O'Jays' second album, is a great choice for listeners looking to explore the musical foundations of modern hip-hop, as well as new and longtime fans of soul and R&B.
The songs on Ship Ahoy feel topical, but also timeless. The O'Jays sing about racism, greed, politics, and divisions within the black community, just for starters. The title track is a 9-minute wonder about the Middle Passage of the African slave trade, and the album's second single, "For the Love of Money
," has one of the greatest--and most sampled
--bass lines in pop music. As with any great soul album, there are terrific love songs, too.
The horns soar. The lush and elaborate string sections give the songs a full, warm feeling. It's soul, but quite different from the better-known Motown sound; a little darker, a little funkier, and with a strong emphasis on the contrasts between the various, expertly arranged instruments. If you're listening on the train or walking down the street, consider yourself warned: you just may find yourself dancing, too.
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