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“Pain” is a classic slab of raw, fatback funk, with Greg Webster’s thick in-the-pocket drumming and Marshall Jones elastic bass lines. Mostly an instrumental, with Junie Morrison adding a few lyrics and a whole lot of catchy hollers, all bandmembers get their moment in the spotlight. Sugarfoot Bonner’s crisp guitar licks are preceded by an especially vicious trumpet solo courtesy of Ralph ‘Pee Wee’ Middlebrooks.
When the tune takes it to the bridge, the funk gets so strong you can smell it. The boys decided to end it with a blast of hard boppin’ jazz, too…
A1 Pain 6:12
A2 Never Had a Dream 4:36
A3 Players Balling (Players Doing Their Own Thing) 4:26
B1 I Wanna Hear From You 2:52
B2 The Reds 5:05
B3 Singing in the Morning 6:59
Review By Soulmakossa
The Players repeat this bit of superior funkafication on the laid-back groover “Players Balling (Players Doing Their Own Thing)“, another loose instrumental riddled with – at times hilarious – adlibs from various bandmembers. More supreme funkin’ here, with Junie’s piano riffs riding through the thang like a freight train. A snippet of this track was sampled by Pete Rock on his ‘Mecca and the Soul Brother’ jam.
Showing their softer side, “Never Had a Dream” is a mellow, mid-tempo ballad with some nice jazz touches and the bumpin’ “I Wanna Hear From You” seems to incorporate Motown elements with early Earth Wind & Fire melodies. The nasty, bluesy guitar riffs throughout are all OP, though…
“The Reds” take it all the way back to the Blues… real low-down, dirty, down and out delta blues… Brilliant, piercing guitar licks from Sugarfoot and old-timey piano fills by Junie.
The finale is taken up by the lengthiest cut here, the jazz-funk-rock opus “Singing in the Morning“, which features a cameo appearance by one of the Players’ wackiest characters, the funky granny that would become famous somewhat later as the manager of that “Funky Worm”…
The Ohio Players at their rawest…
Buy the AlbumOhio Players - 1972 – Pain