What happens to old groups and artists when they’ve passed the peaks of their careers? Well, most gracefully back away and allow their careers to fade in dignity…naw, just kidding!

Jason: I haven’t heard this track yet, but I don’t understand how it could fit into Mellowmas.

Jeff: Why not? Because the O’Jays are awesome?

Jason: Their version of “Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without The One You Love)” is beautiful. Although wait a minute. I did disprove this theory last year when I presented you with a Fats Domino track.

Jeff: Yes, and remember how we expected Paul Carrack’s Christmas song to suck?

Jason: Well, yes, but that doesn’t count. Paul Carrack isn’t an old soul artist. I see what you’re saying, though.

Jeff: Anything can happen at Mellowmas. Up is down and down is sideways.

Jason: True.

Jeff: And more importantly, this album was released in 1991.

Jason: Oh no.

Jeff: Oh YES.

Jason: Please no.

Jeff: rubs hands together

Jason: Please don’t tell me it’s a New Jack Christmas.

Jeff: That’s EXACTLY what I was just going to suggest.

Jason: Oh boy. Hang on, let me take a deep breath. Okay, I think I’m ready.

Jeff: You think you are.

Jason: Well, I’m not going to get any ready-er. We gotta hit this crap sometime.

Jeff: I hope it’s warm!

Jason: Ha!

The O’Jays — Christmas Time in the City (download)


From Home for Christmas null

Jeff: Awwww yeah!

Jason: …Is this a Bobby Brown track?

Jeff: I love this so much already.

Jason: You have this track tagged incorrectly, Jeff. This is Luther Vandross. With a bad voice.

Jeff: Shhh. I’m putting on a silk shirt. And getting a high-top fade.

Jason: Kid, is that you?

Jeff: OhmygodIlovethissongsomuch

Jason: Hang on, my old Nike Pumps are around here somewhere.

Jeff: Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Jason: Why, Jeff?

Jeff: Why do I love it? Hard to say, really. Something about drum machines and middle-aged men getting soulful over the coming of our Lord.

Jason: The vocals are just fine, but man, this isn’t the O’Jays. This isn’t the group that did “Backstabbers.” I see why they’d record something like this, but I don’t want to hear old groups trying to update their sound.

Jeff: Ooh, funky! Or funky (circa 1991), anyway.

Jason: Oh no, the song is breaking down. As is my breakfast.

Jeff: Horn! Hey, you live in the city. Does this song remind you of Christmas Time in the City?

Jason: No, it reminds me of Soul II Soul.

Jeff: Hey, you’re right. I think it might be the same rhythm track as “Back to Life.”

Jason: Something about those synth strings sounded familiar too.

Jeff: Although I think every R&B album was required by law to use that on at least one song in ’91.

Jason: Well, THAT’S over. I don’t know. I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it either. It was just kind of….there.

Jeff: The O’Jays were busy in ’91 — they released Home for Christmas AND a non-Mellowmas album called Emotionally Yours.

Jason: Why?

Jeff: I have no idea, although apparently “Emotionally Yours” went gold. Gold, Jerry!

Jason: sigh

Jeff: Wow, the O’Jays eventually signed with Sanctuary! And they released an album in 2004! It was a Top 20 R&B hit!

Jason: …it was??

Jeff: I saw it in Wikipedia, so it must be true. I just can’t help but feel nostalgic when I hear songs that sound like this. That’s all it is. I agree with you that the song itself is pretty ordinary, but…that sound makes me laugh.

Jason: I kind of see where you’re coming from. But honestly, not really. Blech.

Jeff: Why are you trying to ruin Mellowmas?

Oh, shit! The O’Jays were on Volcano, too!

Jason: Oh, that’s a perfect fit.

Jeff: Yeah, Weird Al and the O’Jays!

Jason: 311, Skynyrd and the O’Jays.

Jeff: And Tool!

Jason: THAT’S a Christmas album I’d buy!

“On June 28, 2009, at the 2009 BET Award Show in the Shrine Auditorium the O’Jays were honored with BET’s 2009 Life Time Achievement Award. Tevin Campbell, Trey Songz, Tyrese Gibson, and Johnny Gill performed a medley of the groups songs followed by the presentation of the award by Don Cornelius. ”

Jeff: “Which entitled them to parking validation and free soda refills at the BET Award Show Buffet.”

Jason: Tevin Campbell? Johnny Gill? Did everybody else call in to the BET Award Show with the flu?

Jeff: Ha ha ha! It’s like the second Chevy Chase roast, only with faded R&B singers!

Jason: I still don’t know what to think about this song. It’s not sitting well with me. I think I have to take a Tums.

Jeff: In the city.

Johnny Gill is apparently touring with Ralph Tresvant and Bobby Brown as a group called Heads of State. This is the greatest thing I’ve read all Mellowmas.

Jason: I agree! Except with your use of the word “greatest.” I don’t think you know what that means.

Jeff: I’m going to find out who manages them and write in suggesting they record a Christmas album.

Jason: I was just going to say “don’t you dare!” but we’ll need fodder for Mellowmas ’10. So go for it.

Jeff: “Heads Of State R&B group was formed at the end of 2008 by New Edition members Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant & Johnny Gill when the other three members Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, and Ronnie DeVoe decided to focus on their own group Bell Biv DeVoe who spun off from New Edition in 1990. While just sitting around waiting until the other three come back around and focus on New Edition they realized they would be waiting for a while and formed Heads Of State.”

Jason: Oh, Wikipedia.

Jeff: I bet you ten bucks Bobby Brown wrote this.

Jason: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Jeff: It’s hard to type when you’re chewing OxyContin!

Jason: This is, like, bad news on top of bad news. Forget it, I don’t need Tums. I need some Staples Singers.

Jeff: As long as the Staples Singers song in question was released in or around 1991.

Jason: Dammit, no, Jeff! I do not endorse a New Jack Christmas, or whatever this is! A Soul II Soul Christmas.

Jeff: In the city!

Jason: groan

About the Author

Jeff Giles and Jason Hare

Two people, separate rooms Trying to hurt the other Bound together by destiny Is there nothing they won’t do? Will we never see them through?

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