Ohio Players – Pain

This was the first of seven straight hit singles by The Ohio Players to burn up the US charts with their brand of slinky horn-powered funk and soul in 1971.
 

 
I was going to post the classic Fire by The Ohio Players, purveyors of outrageous costumes, even more outrageous album covers and upbeat funk par excellence.
 
Then I stumbled upon this.
 
Released in 1971, it was the first single by what what would become the classic line-up, famed for those slinky, horn-powered grooves and rude, often nude, cover photos of female models.
 
Originally released on a small local label called Rubber Town Sounds, Pain was soon picked up by a bigger label in Detroit.
What followed was a succession of single-word song titles – Pain, Pleasure, Fire, Fopp, Skinny, Sweat – and albums including Ecstasy, Climax and Rattlesnake, those three all featuring this striking young lady, Pat ‘Running Bear’ Evans.
 
The band had formed long before this in 1959 in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio – hence the name, which was originally The Ohio Untcouhables – but first made an impression in Detroit as the backing band on a doo wop single, I Found A Love by The Falcons.
 
They broke up in 1964 following a fist fight between two members, and re-formed with a new line-up – guitarist/vocalist Robert Ward being replaced by Leroy ‘Sugarfoot’ Bonner – and a new name, The Ohio Players.
 
The new outfit was signed to a New York label, working as the house band for Compass Records, in which guise they backed Helena Ferguson on her solitary hit, Where Is The Party, in 1968.
 
They broke up again in 1970, reuniting once more with some new members and a funky new sound influenced by Sly & The Family Stone.
 
This time they struck gold, with a string of seven Top 40 hits in the US from 1973-76, of which this was the first, and to which, surprisingly, British funk fans remained mysteriously immune as none of them made the UK charts.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *