Of the three O'Jays--Eddie Levert, Walter Williams and Sammy Strain--who's the most popular? Forget the applause meter; this one's easy.
From the moment Levert opened his mouth Saturday night at Constitution Hall, unleashing a deep, sexy growl, the answer resounded in a thousand female screams, cries that later engulfed the hall as one ecstatic wave of approval washed over another.
Not that Levert's partners are without charm. Williams, sharing most of the lead vocals with Levert, was consistently cool and casual, a nice contrast to Levert's declamatory earthiness. And Strain, tall and boyishly handsome, contributed to the smooth harmonies that characterize the group's polished Philly soul. But as far as sheer sex appeal goes--and in a setting such as this it goes a long, long way--Levert reigned supreme.
As expected, the trio drew largely on their past hits, songs enhanced by crisp choreography and uncluttered orchestrations. The group's hit list has become so long over the years that time limitations preclude faithful treatment in every case. Some tunes, such as "Love Train" and "Sing a Happy Song," were given short shrift while other, more substantial fare such as "She's a Lady," "She Used to Be My Girl" and "Joyful Noise" was delivered with either great affection or bone-rattling conviction. If the O'Jays, known for their inspirational songs, conveyed one message to the crowd it was a plain and simple: PARTY!
The trio returns for its final show tonight.