O.C. Smith, For Once In My Life, Columbia CS-9756, 1968
I’m quite sure 5,000 people thumbed past this record before I shelled to the princely sum of $2 for it. There could be many reasons why… Lets be honest, O.C. Smith isn’t exactly Marvin Gaye in the singing or looks department. Even if you you knew about his one hit record, Little Green Apples, you see this record and realize that it’s not on it. So why bother?
I’ll be honest, I only bit because someone took the time to put a sticker in the upper right corner with the handwritten note “drums on Hey Jude“. Not knowing the O.C. Smith version of that Bing Crosby record, I happily added it to my pile thinking I’d find a neat riff that Ringo never thought of.
I heard more than that. I heard the voice of someone who had clearly been around. Someone who knew what pain sounded like because he experienced it. Which I heard in phrasing that seemed hastily recorded for budgetary reasons, yet revealed true soul. O.C. Smith’s best known song was his worst song.
The clues were all there for me, it just took a bit of sleuthing for the so-called apple to land on my head. After all, how does a 36 year old with no hits get signed to the biggest corporate label of the day? How did this album come out BEFORE Stevie Wonder’s hit version of the title track? And with the commercial failure of this album, why did Columbia go ahead with a follow up that produced Apples? The answer is that Mr. Smith can SING!
Cost: $2, $799 Remaining