Ohio Players – The Definitive Collection Plus… (Cherry Red)


Let us pause to consider, or reconsider, the Ohio Players. The 1970s funk band is the subject of a career-spanning 3-CD anthology titled The Definitive Collection Plus.

The musical congregate that was the Ohio Players released a string of mighty dance-floor favourites in the mid-70s including Skin Tight, Fire and Love Rollercoaster.

They were also known as an album band. Along with their somewhat provocative album covers, three of the long players went platinum in the span of just two years (1974-1975). Until then, no black band had ever written and recorded three platinum albums in a row.

This new collection assembles 44 tracks from the band’s late sixties beginnings emerging from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, until their demise in the mid-80s.

Sure, all the hits are here, but what is more interesting, and more revealing, are the lesser known album tracks.

This was a band who consistently made high-quality funk from the very beginning until the end. Their sound lies somewhere between George Clinton’s P-Funk and Earth, Wind & Fire.

As the accompanying booklet reveals, despite going through multiple personnel changes the band was always operating at the highest level. They boasted two highly creative drummers, first Greg Webster, then James “Diamond” Williams, a killer hors section in Clarence “Satch” Satchell and Ralph “Pee Wee” Middlebrooks and charismatic frontmen such as Walter “Junie” Morrison and Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner and anchoring the group, keyboard player Billy Beck.

The band’s heyday was relatively short…from 1974 til 1977, but during that time they were incredibly prolific with albums such as Fire, Honey, Angel and Contradiction tearing up the r&b charts.

This collection offers up the opportunity to look past the hits and relish lesser known tracks such as Sleep Talk, Sweet Sticky Thing and Who’d She Coo? and listen to the band show off their acute musical chops, mixing elements of jazz, doo-wop, funk and rock. All the while, it always sounds like these guys were having fun.

Sadly, many of the bandmembers are no longer with us, although some surviving members still tour together as Ohio Players from time to time. As the years have gone by, they have been overshadowed by other funk and disco acts of the era (EW&F, Chic, P-Funk), but this collection goes a long way to making the case for the Ohio Players as one of the premiere funksters of the 1970s.

Marty Duda