O’Jays: When The World’s At Peace

From Backstabbers (Sony/BMG, 2008)

Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes: Tell The World How I Feel About Cha Baby

From Wake Up Everybody (Sony BMG, 2008)

Willie Mitchell: Sunny

From Ooh Baby You Turn Me On/Live At The Royal (Hi Records, 1993)

A few weeks ago I stopped by Circuit City to check out their deals on CDs where I found a couple of Philadelphia International Records classics for under $6 each! As O.W. says, I was CD’iggin’.

O’Jays: Backstabbers

Remember when popular mainstream groups didn’t pussyfoot around the charts? 1972 saw the release of another album rooted in social commentary. While not as politically charged from beginning to end like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” from the previous year, Eddie Levert confidently preaches about learning to love like we’ve learned to kill and how that will lead to peace in the land, a sentiment echoed with the album’s closer, “Love Train.”

Where the arrangement for “Love Train” has a much more hold-hands-with-your-brothers vibe, Bobby Martin arranges a much more aggressive and funky tone with a riveting bass line and almost rock-like guitar background groove which flows in perfect harmony with its message. And who can deny a call of “Do it to me now,” followed by a killer breakdown by the full band?

As such, the way the album is sequenced, it’s perfect that the lead track is “When The World’s At Peace,” as it’s like the beginning of a rally for social movement and the final track, “Love Train,” is a we’re-all-in-this-together moment with the group leading the march to victory.

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes: Wake Up Everybody

While primarily known for its social anthem title track, it has other gems such as “Tell The World How I Feel About Cha Baby,” another foray for the group into disco. It was a sound they had delved into earlier in 1975 with “Bad Luck.” Before Teddy Pendergrass was dodging lacy garments while singing slow jams about closed-door knockout lovemaking sessions, he was singing uptempo numbers like the original version of “Don’t Leave Me This Way.”

The highlight for me in “Tell The World How I Feel About Cha Baby” is the drum breakdown with the congas 4:30 minutes in following the horn stab. If only all disco could sound this sweet.

Willie Mitchell: Ooh Baby You Turn Me On/Live At The Royal

Later that week I stopped by FYE to look in the clearance bin and found a Willie Mitchell double set for under $4! Before he was churning out hits for Al Green, Willie Mitchell was an accomplished band leader and trumpeter. In 1968, Mitchell released Ooh Baby You Turn Me On (aka Soul Serenade) featuring some of his own hits as well as covers such as the Bar-Kays “Soul Finger” and Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny.”

On “Sunny” you get a little organ and a lot of horns. You don’t get any long solos on the album, just a tight-knit sound with each member chipping in making the sum of its parts greater than the whole. Some have questioned whether the Live At The Royal was an actual live album and not just overdubbed crowd noise and clapping. Regardless, it’s still a pleasant listen all the way through