Mon. Aug. 02, 2021

The O’Jays – Give The People What They Want

This Beat Is Mine! The O’Jays – Give The People What They Want (Philadelphia International Records)

The use of ‘Give The People What They Want’ in a Samsung smartphone TV commercial tells a lot about its timelessness, some 40 + years after its initial release. Of course, we all want our money’s worth whenever coming to invest on something. And no doubt as well as to how the title of this song perfectly summarize the economical principle of the supply and demand. But the overall meaning of this gem goes way beyond this. Explaining as to how people search for better education now, better food to eat, and better homing. And that they got to be given what they want.

Ironically, more than 40 years have gone since this jam first saw the light. And it’s as if nothing had changed. Showing us as to how it’s so easier to turn a deaf ear, like usual. The question being until when this is going to last.

On the other hand, I’ve always had serious doubts about the application of this sentence. As it has regularly led to various forms of demagoguery. Like for instance the British Dance mags comin’ up with cover stories related to the use of drugs in the 90’s. Or how corporate radio stations have turned, giving their own interpretation as to what people supposedly want. And I’m not even speakin’ of politicians here or there playing the dangerous game of populism…

‘Give The People What They Want’ in the sense of what they need. And nothing else!

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Gladly welcoming yours to be published next Wednesday. On your marks!

– Fellow high school students Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, Bobby Massey, Walter Powell and Bill Isles first sang together as The Triumphs then The Mascots in the early 60’s. They would get their final name as a tribute to Eddie O’Jay, a Cleveland-based DJ who helped them dropping their first release…

The O’Jays would reach their peak along with producers Gamble & Huff who signed them to their P.I.R. label in 1972. A liaison which led to countless classics. From ‘Love Train’ to ‘Back Stabbers’ that same year. To ‘Now That We Found Love’ and ‘For The Love Of Money’ in 1973. ‘Livin’ For The Weekend’,‘I Love Music’ and ‘Give People What They Want’ in 1975. This in addition to ‘Message In Our Music’ and ‘Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby’ the year after. Not to mention ‘Put Our Heads Together’ in 1983.

The end of the 80’s eventually saw them switching to EMI-America. One of their ultimate tracks worth the listen from then being the vibrant ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ with remixing work courtesy of Tony Humphries.

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