The Ovations

Having a Party

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Having Ovations lead singer and Sam Cooke-soundalike Louis Williams sing an actual Sam Cooke hit seemed like a strategy that was not only obvious, but borderline exploitative. As blunt as it was, however, it was successful, with the Ovations' "Having a Party" (which also wove in snippets of other Cooke songs) becoming the group's biggest hit, reaching the Top Ten of the R&B charts. Though not universally known at the time, it was actually a Williams solo recording, making it unsurprising that the LP that followed, also called Having a Party, was billed to "the Ovations featuring Louis Williams." Unsurprisingly, it's a little different in tone than both its predecessor (1972's Hooked on a Feeling) and the group's 1960's output, and not only because it spotlights Williams. While Hooked on a Feeling's sweet soul still bore traces of the group's Memphis origins, Having a Party was a little more diverse, a little more polished, and a little more anonymous at the same time, and certainly less earthy. There were even pseudo-Caribbean sounds in "Under the Banana Tree," as well as some strange party-like effects on a few cuts, a cover of the Temptations' "Don't Look Back," and more attempts to riff on the Cooke-Williams connection with covers of Cooke's "You Send Me" and "A Change Is Gonna Come." It still didn't add up to such a good album, as Williams wasn't a notable interpreter, the non-Cooke songs weren't so good, and the production was a little crass.