O'Jays - Imagination (2004)

O'Jays
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It is always refreshing - even comforting - to hear a new O'Jays album.  Especially in 2004, when it is impossible to hear solid group soul on the radio and nearly as tough to find it on CD.   And the O'Jays have been doing it so long and so well, I listen to any album by them predisposed to liking it -- even if it is a fairly average O'Jays disc such as Imagination.  Since the O'Jays' departure from PIR over a decade ago, their albums have generally boasted fantastic vocal work but inconsistent material and production, and Imagination continues that trend.  However, amidst the uneven cuts are a few gems.  The disc's high point is the title cut, the O'Jays' first collaboration with hitmakers Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis.  It is a fantastic midtempo number that should have steppers dancing all winter and which stands with the O'Jays' best Philadelphia work.

It is always refreshing - even comforting - to hear a new O'Jays album.  Especially in 2004, when it is impossible to hear solid group soul on the radio and nearly as tough to find it on CD.   And the O'Jays have been doing it so long and so well, I listen to any album by them predisposed to liking it -- even if it is a fairly average O'Jays disc such as Imagination.  Since the O'Jays' departure from PIR over a decade ago, their albums have generally boasted fantastic vocal work but inconsistent material and production, and Imagination continues that trend.  However, amidst the uneven cuts are a few gems.  The disc's high point is the title cut, the O'Jays' first collaboration with hitmakers Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis.  It is a fantastic midtempo number that should have steppers dancing all winter and which stands with the O'Jays' best Philadelphia work.  Equally engaging is "Make Up," a simmering slow cut that recalls their great 80s ballads "Your Body's Here With Me" and "Hurry Up and Come Back." Eddie Levert and Walter Williams' alternating lead vocals are excellent throughout, especially on the other Jam/Lewis number, "Why You Wanna," and on "Made It Back" and "Chauvinistic."  While the remainder of the cuts aren't as memorable, the performances are, and the disc's bright spots make Imagination another O'Jays disc worth owning.

By Chris Rizik

 
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