The O'Jays

Friday, September 16, Coors Amphitheatre, 303-830-8497.

Few soul artists of the '70s outside of Curtis Mayfield and Donny Hathaway were able to blend funk, protest, heartbreak and harmony like the O'Jays. Formed in Ohio in 1958, the group struggled before hooking up in 1969 with the swiftly rising songsmith team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. 1972's Back Stabbers was the breakthrough: Bracketed by the dark cynicism of the title track and the gospel-tinted hope of "Love Train," the album is a multi-layered masterpiece. Hits like "For the Love of Money" and "I Love Music" kept coming, though the '80s saw the O'Jays clumsily updating their sound with disco and new jack swing. But they've maintained a solid string of releases ever since, and, anchored by founding members Walter Williams and Eddie Levert, they released Imagination in 2004 and were inducted this year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Although the Jammin' Family Reunion -- as this show has been dubbed by presenters Jammin' 92.5 -- also features the Gap Band and Chaka Khan, the legendary O'Jays will be the undisputed bill-toppers.
 
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