From the Beginning

by: The O'Jays

An 11-track compilation of the O'Jays' 1967-1969 work (which, technically, is close to a decade after the actual beginning of their career), From the Beginning doesn't sound much like the group's classic Gamble & Huff singles of the '70s; the soaring string lines are there, especially on the sweetly shy "You're the Best Thing Since Candy," but the songs that lean toward the dancefloor grace of their later smashes, like the overdramatic and oddly cowboy-inflected "'Branded Bad,'" are comparatively leaden. The vocals are terrific, of course, and fans of their later work will be interested to hear fourth member Bobby Massey, who left the group just before their commercial breakthrough. There are some fine tracks here, particularly "I Should Be Your Lover," the absolutely joyous "Deeper in Love With You," and the sultry "One Night Affair," but this is definitely for fans only. ~ Stewart Mason

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