I’ve been spending the last ten days enjoying Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family in Southern California. Hope you’ve had a good holiday as well. Yesterday we experienced something rather rare in these parts, a drenching rainy afternoon. Stuck unexpectedly indoors, I spent some time on line where I stumbled upon several fabulous videos on YouTube of the O’Jays and Smokey Robinson performing with Darryl Hall’s great band. What a cool way to while a way the hours.
In keeping with the holiday spirit, I’m of course thankful for the O’Jays’ marvelous singing and for the genius of Smokey, perhaps the greatest dual threat singer/songwriter of them all. Beyond that, I must add my thanks for Darryl Hall instigating his great series “Live From Darryl’s House.” It’s a remarkable feat brining Darryl and his great band together with artists and groups spanning every living generation and a fairly wide musical spectrum. Linking them are soulful approaches to music through which Hall manages to find linkages to R&B that give all the sessions a spirited groove. Every musician and singer in the room seems to be having a ball.
The O’Jays set, recorded this year, can be seen in its entirety which runs just under 50 minutes. It’s thrilling all the way through. You can also just check out single songs like this one – my personal favorite form the groups days on Philadelphia International.
Smokey Robinson and Darryl Hall are connected much more closely than many people realize. One of Hall’s earliest professional gigs before he teamed up with John Oates was a vocal group called the Temptones which was patterned after the Temptations. He met Smokey during joint gigs at Philly’s Uptown theater. Unlike with The O’Jays, I did not find one video covering the entire session, but if you search you’ll find numerous videos from the day. Here’s one that eases from Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smile” to Smokey’s classic “Ooh Baby Bay.” Smokey generously lets Darryl take the lead through most of the second song, yet he still manages to hit the best notes. It’s beautiful work together.
And for the “what the heck”file, Hall seemed to surprise Smokey by going way back to one of his earliest tunes. Great to enjoy with your leftover turkey and dressing sandwich.