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The O’Jays | The Last Word

The iconic trio go out with a bang on their fantastic final album.

The O’JaysLove Train has come to the end of the line. But even on the final run, it’s staying right on track. After nearly 60 years and 30 albums, the iconic vocal trio claim that The Last Word — their first disc of non-holiday material in about 15 years — will be their fittingly titled final release. That’s a shame. But to their credit, The O’Jays — which still includes original members Eddie Levert and Water Williams, along with new kid Eric Grant, who’s only been in the band since 1997 — go out with a bang and not a whimper. And they do it by sticking to their guns and doing what they do best: Delivering authentically old-school soul and R&B jams fuelled by their powerfully supple vocals and spiked with pointed social commentary. Cut from the same cloth as hits like Love Train, Back Stabbers and For the Love of Money (which ironically became the theme song of The Apprentice), tracks like the groovy I Got You, the soulful Stand Up (Show Love), the gritty Above the Law and the nostalgic ’68 Summer Nights wouldn’t have been out of place being performed on Soul Train in its heyday. The most obvious concession to modernity is Enjoy Yourself, a lighthearted, lightweight dance-floor number penned by Train’s Patrick Monahan and Bruno Mars — but really, they’re both retro enough to keep the cut from being a sore thumb. By the time the disc closes with a gorgeously rendered version of their 1967 gem I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today), you’ll be ready to take the ride once more from the top. All aboard.

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