Ohio Players – Cold Cold World

12th April 2024 · 1960s, 1968, Blues, Funk, Music, Soul

Here’s a sultry slice of Southern soul from The Ohio Players’ debut album, long before they became disco-funkateers with a string of hits.

After prompting a lengthy debate about funk and soul with yesterday’s David Bowie tune, here’s a track taken from the same soul album where he found it.

Observations In Time was the debut album by The Ohio Players, released in 1968, and its first track – the one that caught Bowie’s ear – was Here Today And Gone Tomorrow.

It’s a brilliant and wildly underrated album, and quite unlike the run of rollicking disco-funk tunes with which they made their name in the ’70s – tunes like Fire – (although there are a few of those too).

Before they became a brass-blowing party band of funkateers, the group from Dayton, Ohio, dipped their toes into a wider range of genres, blending jazz, blues and soul.

The album includes an extended cover of Over The Rainbow and an epic Summertime, which is about as jazzy as you can get, complete with trumpet and flute solos. But this tune stands out too.

Carried on a wave of brass, Cold Cold World goes about as deep as you can get without actually getting the bends: a slice of sultry Southern soul with a classic hard-times blues lyric and a tear-jerking soul vocal by (I think) Bobby Fears that tugs at the heartstrings.

You’ll be in bits by the end. And you’ll want to track down the recently re-released, re-mastered and extended album Observations In Time: The Johnny Brantley/Vidalia Productions.