Back Stabbers (1972) by O’Jays

Categories: 1972 and Music.

What do you do with an album named after a track called “Back Stabbers” when much of the album is about making the world a better place? I don’t know.

The lyrics of these songs are over the place from “Love Train” on the one hand, to the title track and “992 Arguments” on the other. The message I get is “Why can’t we all live in peace you backstabbing, nagging bitch? Now excuse me while I go cheat on you.” Can you understand my confusion?

If you ignore the lyrics what you get is very slick, well performed and reasonably funky Philly Soul. If that’s your thing, this album would probably work very well for you. (Though I doubt too many of us legitimately like “Love Train” except as a stupid wedding song.)

But it is not my thing. I’ve always been drawn more to the grittier side of soul than the polished side, regardless of when that soul was created.

The other issue for me with this group is that it’s one of these managed vocal groups where the artists appear to have little creative control. At least Philadelphia International credits the musicians, unlike another label I could name…

Decent for what it is, though.

6/10

PS: This is still much better than that Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes record (made by the same songwriting and production team) that came out around the same time. I tried that one. I gave up.

  1. “When the World’s at Peace” Kenneth Gamble, Bunny Sigler, Phil Hurtt 5:21
  2. “Back Stabbers” Leon Huff, Gene McFadden, John Whitehead 3:07
  3. “Who Am I” Sigler, Hurtt 5:14
  4. “(They Call Me) Mr. Lucky” Gamble, Huff 3:20
  5. “Time to Get Down” Gamble, Huff 2:53
  6. “992 Arguments” Gamble, Huff 6:09
  7. “Listen to the Clock on the Wall” Gamble, Huff, Whitehead, McFadden 3:48
  8. “Shiftless, Shady, Jealous Kind of People” Gamble, Huff, Whitehead, McFadden 3:36
  9. “Sunshine” Sigler, Hurtt 3:42
  10. “Love Train” Gamble, Huff 2:59
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