If you check my last.fm stats, you can see I’ve been on a big Ohio Players kick lately. Of course I’ve been listening to stuff from the Mercury years, but it’s the Westbound albums that are really gettin it done for me. Pleasure, Pain, and Ecstacy…that’s that sho’ NUFF FONK. Those are the types of albums that I think really get slighted when it comes to those ‘top funky songs’ lists. They got that gooood fonk, but not everybody knows about it.
At any rate, since I have enough to make this list actually somewhat selective, let’s run off my top 20 Ohio Players records.
20. A Thing Called Love – This is that early, early OP’s, before they were what you could really call funky. This makes the cut for the line, “To fire, don’t you know it’s a flame/ to The Flames, don’t you know it’s James”.
19. Black Cat – The Ten Commandments Horns. Period.
18. Sweet Sticky Thing
17. Never Had A Dream – That drum loop. Killin.
16. Cold, Cold World – One of the OP’s straight-up blues joints. Later reworked in an even more vicious version called The Reds.
15. Smoke – the prototypical sound of the Players on Mercury
14. Short Change – The first raw funk instrumental on this list, but neither the best nor the last.
13. I Wanna Hear From You
12. I Want To Be Free
11. Food Stamps Y’all – Raw funk instrumental jam #2.
And now for the money cuts. Starting with…
10. Fopp Yes, the OP’s could put some rock in their funk, and they sho’ did on this jam.
9. Silly Billy This is one of the songs that a lotta people don’t know about, but it’s just about perfect.
8. Good Luck Charm – One of their best ballads. Nice and long, too. Works well on repeat.
7. Climax – Raw funk instrumental. Period. Later reworked into a song a little higher on the list.
6. It’s All Over – The ad-libs at the end. Especially the ‘woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woooouuuu’
5. Pride and Vanity – Seriously.
4. Jive Turkey – Probably one of the more important songs in the development of my idiolect. When I was finally able to pry my eyes away from the album cover long enough to see the track listing, I knew I had to hear whatever was entitled “Jive Turkey.” When I heard it, I was duly impressed. But not as impressed as I was with…
3. Heaven Must Be Like This – This is the song that 97.2% of ballads wish they could be.
2. Skin Tight – The definitive Ohio Players song, and for good reason. There’s just nothing not to like about it, including the fact that they don’t belabor the point with the lyrics. They get the two verses in, then get out of the way and let the instrumentals take over.
Which leaves us to …
1. Funky Worm – I don’t even know where to start with this joint. Is it the sickening horn blast? Is it the guitar? Is it the synth? Is it the Granny character? Is it the rerworking of Climax? (Should Climax actually be tied for #1, as an instrumental?)