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The Soul Express Album of the Month

March 2002

MCA, 2001
1) Long Distance Lover 2) Let's Ride 3) Don't Break My Heart 4) Put Out The Fire 5) Come Over To My House 6) I'm Ready Now 7) Searching For The Love I Lost 8) I Don't Know 9) Latin Lover 10) Baby Making Love 11) Sounds Like Me

Forget about Sam & Dave, Mel & Tim and all the rest. The greatest vocal double act of all time in soul music is, if you ask me, Eddie Levert and Walter Williams of the magnificent O'Jays, as this, their long-awaited new album once again demonstrates.
Of course, they are joined on this album by the third and newest member of the group, Eric Grant, but, as always, it is the vocal interplay between Eddie and Walter that makes this album the wonderful listening experience it is.
Add to that the fact that this album, which did not knock me out the first time I listened to it, turns out to be full of songs that grow on you with each and every listen, and what you have here is one of the best albums of this, or any other, year.
The only tracks I would still call quite ordinary by the extremely high standards of the O'Jays after half a dozen listens are the soft and gentle but at the same time somewhat sleepy groove ballads Don't Break My Heart and I'm Ready Now. Other than that, this album, produced, arranged and written by Messrs. Levert and Williams themselves, together with Matthew Rose, with one exception, is full of only winners.
The album is given a strong start by the gritty, unhurried midtempo groove ballad Long Distance Lover, with simply excellent vocals by the two evergreen lead singers. The passionate and semi-hypnotic uptempo groove and first single Let's Ride continues on the same high level.
However, things get even better with the warm, Southern-style midtempo soul ballad Put Out The Fire, which grows with every listen, and the soft and gentle groove ballad Come Over To My House is also a joy to hear.
Searching For The Love I Lost is another gritty midtempo soul/funk jogger with a fine hook and plenty of vocal passion.
The album also features two different versions of the bright and breezy midtempo Latin pop groove called Latin Lover, which may not be your typical O'Jays song, perhaps, but is still a very enjoyable and catchy tune when you get over the initial surprise.
One of the most interesting songs on display and another that grows on you with every listen is Baby Making Love, which very cleverly marries a rhythm arrangement that sounds very much like something Willie Mitchell might have come up with on one of his Al Green productions back in the 70s to what can only be described as a classic O'Jays melody line and vocal interpretation.
And then we have left my two favourite songs on this album. First of all, the deceptively simple yet extremely hypnotic unhurried midtempo groove I Don't Know with its excellent vocals and melody line. Believe me, this song is a grower if there ever was one.
And true to form, the group saves its best shot for last, for the album ends with the absolutely wonderful, classic O'Jays soul ballad Sounds Like Me. This ballad is every bit as good as the group's finest hours at Philadelphia International Records, with an imaginative arrangement and the greatest double act in soul history once again performing their vocal fireworks to perfection.
There will never be a vocal group quite like the O'Jays, so long may Eddie and Walter continue to sing together. (9 1/2) -Pirkka Kivenheimo, the review from Soul Express 4/01

The album of the Month in February 2002: Jill Scott
The album of the Month in January 2001: N'Dambi

The album of the Month in December 2001: Ali Ollie Woodson
The album of the Month in November 2001: Main Ingredient
The album of the Month in October 2001: Ty Stephens
The Album of the Month in August 2001: Michael Bohannon
The Album of the Month in June-July 2001: Miki Howard
The Album of the Month in May 2001: Cynthia Biggs
The Album of the Month in April 2001: Gladys Knight
The Album of the Month in March 2001: Nathan Heathman
The Album of the Month in February 2001: Ian
The Album of the Month in January 2001: Karen Bernod

Albums of the Month in 2000
Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997

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