Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The O'Jays: Love Train: The Best of the O'Jays [Epic Associated/Legacy, 1995]
The O'Jays were a moderately gifted r&b trio fortunate enough to hook up with Philadelphia International's Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for an extended if belated '70s run. Smarmy lead Eddie Levert served as mouthpiece for smarmy black capitalist Gamble on such Big Statements (and Small Sellers) as "Family Reunion," which were resuscitated on subsequent compilations. Two decades later, however, this collection leaves the bullshit to Farrakhan and showcases pianist-hookmeister Huff, who along with arrangers Thom Bell and Bobby Martin outfitted the O'Jays in a shifting soul-funk-pop-disco amalgam that was most convincing when you didn't have time to think about it: "Back Stabbers," "992 Arguments," the indelibly bass-hooked "For the Love of Money." "Rich Get Richer" shouldn't have been bypassed. This is everything else. A-