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The O'Jays: Christmas with the O'Jays

Audio Samples

>First Noel, The
>Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
>Joy to the World
>Silent Night
>Jingle Bells
>I'm What You Want This Christmas
>Oh, Holy Night
>What Child Is This [Greensleeves]
>'Cause It's Christmas
>We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Track List

>First Noel, The
>Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
>Joy to the World
>Silent Night
>Jingle Bells
>I'm What You Want This Christmas
>Oh, Holy Night
>What Child Is This [Greensleeves]
>'Cause It's Christmas
>We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Audio Mixer: Craig Burbidge.Recording information: Blue Rhode Studios, Burbank, CA; B-Sharp Records & Entertainment Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Richmond Sound, Los Angeles, CA; Studio Digital Insight Recording, Las Vegas, NV.Arrangers: Bruce Walker; Jacques Richmond.The O'Jays will always be defined by their Philadelphia International years in the 1970s, but original members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams haven't let that stop them from releasing new O'Jays material from time to time. Still, this new holiday album is a bit of a surprise. Coming six years after the last studio album, 2004's Imagination, and some 20 years after the group's holiday release from 1991, Home for Christmas, Christmas with the O'Jays is a pleasant, unhurried, and joyous outing, highlighted by two new holiday originals, Levert's "I'm What You Want This Christmas" and the Williams co-write "'Cause It's Christmas," which sports a nice little funky groove, as well as an elegantly smooth "The First Noel" and a lightly updated and fun version of "Jingle Bells."

"Yes, it's that time of year again. It seems like retailers have barely put the Halloween decorations and costumes on sale when they start cranking out all things Christmas, and before you know it, you've heard enough variations of the same tried-and-true holiday classics while you shop to recite them as you sleep. It's been almost 20 years since The O'Jays have released a full-length CD focusing on this time of year, and for some, Christmas with the O'Jays will be worth the listen.

Credited to the group but actually performed by the duo of Walter Williams and Eddie Levert Sr., Christmas.... is smoothly produced and offers ten tunes, eight traditional ones and two new compositions. "What Child Is This (Greensleeves)" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" are arranged nimbly and delivered reverently, while "Oh, Holy Night" is given a mid-tempo stride. It may take people by surprise to hear "All you steppers out there, get on the floor/step, step, step with the Christmas spirit" at the beginning of "Jingle Bells," but its interpretation is a fresh one and one of the most enjoyable tracks on the CD. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" takes fans back to the 70s, thanks to its caressing ballad feel and spoken "rap" intertwined within the classic verses.

As for the original songs, they are as pretty far from regular Christmas fare as they can get: " 'Cause It's Christmas" has a jumped-up swing-jazz infusion, with lyrics that focus on, well, the joys of fooling around during that special time of year (alrighty then!). "I'm What You Want This Christmas" is half boudoir-ready and half bragging, telling some lonesome lady that he should be at the top of her list because he "don't need no batteries, it's unbreakable" and that "satisfaction is guaranteed." Guess there's nothing wrong with a recession-proof gift that keeps on giving, right?

With such legendary voices at work, it's hard to believe that there are flaws to be found, but they do exist and cannot be overlooked: Mr. Levert's baritone is still full-bodied, but is downright craggy in places, and both he and Mr. Williams seem to be dragging out the verses in an effort to add more soul ("Silent Night") or singing at a different pace from the track arrangement altogether ("Joy To the World"). These quirks certainly detract from the listening experience, but fans who have been following the O'Jays for years will forgive those slights, find comfort in their familiar soul stylings and enjoy what is otherwise a solid (if not quite spectacular) holiday CD." - SoulTracks

Album Notes

Audio Mixer: Craig Burbidge.

Recording information: Blue Rhode Studios, Burbank, CA; B-Sharp Records & Entertainment Studio, Los Angeles, CA; Richmond Sound, Los Angeles, CA; Studio Digital Insight Recording, Las Vegas, NV.

Arrangers: Bruce Walker; Jacques Richmond.

The O'Jays will always be defined by their Philadelphia International years in the 1970s, but original members Eddie Levert and Walter Williams haven't let that stop them from releasing new O'Jays material from time to time. Still, this new holiday album is a bit of a surprise. Coming six years after the last studio album, 2004's Imagination, and some 20 years after the group's holiday release from 1991, Home for Christmas, Christmas with the O'Jays is a pleasant, unhurried, and joyous outing, highlighted by two new holiday originals, Levert's "I'm What You Want This Christmas" and the Williams co-write "'Cause It's Christmas," which sports a nice little funky groove, as well as an elegantly smooth "The First Noel" and a lightly updated and fun version of "Jingle Bells." ~ Steve Leggett



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