The Ohio Players were one of the tightest and most ferocious funk outfits of the '70s, scoring a stack of hit R&B singles (and even a few that topped the pop charts) and earning a reputation as one of the mightiest live acts of the day. But those expecting a selection of the Ohio Players' career highlights from Love Rollercoaster: Anthology 1967-1988 are not going to get what they came for. This set kicks off with re-recorded versions of "Love Rollercoaster" and "Fire," the group's two biggest hits, and while the new versions aren't bad, they lack the spark and taut energy of the originals. The set also tosses in live recordings of three of their more popular '70s tracks, "Skin Tight," "Who'd She Coo?," and "Sweet Sticky Thing," and though these live cuts find the Players in blazing form, they're very different compared to the studio takes. Love Rollercoaster next folds in seven songs from the Players' obscure debut album, 1968's Observations in Time, which found the group in a more jazzy, blues-influenced groove than the work that would make them stars a few years down the line. Two tunes come from a 1988 reunion album called Back, and the remainder of the album has been drawn from obscure small-label singles from the late '60s and early '70s. Add it up, and you'll discover none of the original recordings for Mercury or Westbound that contained the Ohio Players' best-known moments are to be found on Love Rollercoaster. Add in the less than pristine audio of the older material (which sounds all the more fuzzy compared to the newest tracks), and you get a singularly frustrating collection. Love Rollercoaster: Anthology 1967-1988 does boast a few rarities that might be of interest to collectors, but this is hardly the only place you can find them, and overall, the disc doesn't live up to the standards of this outstanding funk machine.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming