Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Albums of 1973: The O'Jays: Ship Ahoy


Release Date: August 1, 1972

Members: Eddie Levert; Walter Williams; William Powell

Produced by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff

Track List: Side One: Put Your Hands Together; Ship Ahoy; The Air I Breath; You Got Your Hooks in Me

Side Two: For the Love of Money; Now That We Found Love; Don't Call Me Brother; People Keep Tellin' Me

The O'Jays returned in 1973 with Ship Ahoy, a powerful follow-up to their classic recorded the year before, Backstabbers.

"Put Your Hands Together" opened the record with a call for unity, gospel infused with the bold horns, strings, and vocals.

An epic at nine minutes "Ship Ahoy" is a recounting of the Middle Passage, following a slave ship from Africa to the Americas. Originally intended for the soundtrack for the 1973 film Shaft in Africa, the track is a marvel of production, a haunting and essential meditation on the past and present. "This Air I Breath" is ecologically themed, a call for cleaner air. "You Got Your Hooks in Me" is a romantically themed pledge of devotion.

"For the Love of Money" gained a life of its own in many movies about greed (and a certain reality show). "Now That We Found Love" muses over the challenges of a relationship. "Don't Call Me Brother" is another nine-minute track, calling out phony friends, the takers of the world. 'People Keep Tellin' Me" ends the record on a note of faith and persistence in the face of turmoil. 

Ship Ahoy is an album of conflicting moods reflecting on the early 1970s, the current state of the world, and relationships, a classic of 70's Soul. 

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