This is the fourth song in the Play It Again Mayhem series which began earlier this year. Check out the earlier posts by clicking here (Betty Wright), here (Elton John) and here (Roxy Music). All the previous songs were from the 1970s, for this one I am taking you back to the 1960s for an early track by an iconic soul group, the O’Jays. The song is “I Dig Your Act” which was released as the B-Side of 1967’s “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)”. “I Dig Your Act” was written by brothers Robert and Stanley Poindexter, with someone called L Harper. The siblings also wrote the A-Side with Jackie Members and Emma Jean Thomas. These were among a number of tracks recorded by the O’Jays in the mid 60s for Bell Records. While the group garnered a few minor US hits in the 60s none matched the scale of their breakthrough smash “Backstabbers” on the Philadelphia International label in 1972. That was a US R & B number 1, number 3 in the main Billboard chart and a top twenty hit in the UK. Incidentally did you know why they were called the O’Jays? I didn’t until I did the research for this post. In the early 60s they were a quintet consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. They were not making much progress until they were taken under the wing of Cleveland Radio DJ, Eddie O’Jay, who became their manager. At that point the group changed their name from the Triumphs to the O’Jay’s in Eddie’s honour.
I believe that “I Dig Your Act” was a minor Northern Soul success in the UK, at places like the Twisted Wheel, the beat suggests as much, albeit at the less frenetic end of that Northern Soul pace. I used to own the record on 7 inch vinyl, which I probably purchased at the Bop Shop in Rayners Lane near Harrow in West London. In my teenage years full of angst I played it a lot, especially when I was dumped by the girl of my dreams, and to be fair there were plenty of those girls. I felt that the bravado and swagger of the tune and the lyrics probably helped me to get through many rejections from girls as a teenager. To be fair and to add some balance I was probably the dumper as often, if not more often, than I was the dumpee. Lyrics like “I dig your act, I want a front row seat to watch you try in vain to get me back” probably soothed my angst very well. On top of that the production and call and response style gave the song a really happy vibe. I hope you enjoy it, I still love it even after all these years.
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