The Ultimate O’Jays (Epic Legacy)
Even though the roots of this Ohio R&B unit stretch back to the late ’50s, the O’Jays are often credited — or, rather, blamed — for giving birth to disco. As this compilation of career-spanning hits proves, however, their music was more attuned to Philly soul than Soul Train.
Sacred Hearts & Fallen Angels: The Gram Parsons Anthology (Rhino)
Gram Parsons lived a short life — he died in 1973 at age 26 — but his early minglings of country and rock were wildly influential. This mammoth 46-song two-CD set nicely chronicles his career, from his work with The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers to his solo material. Man, we miss this guy.
Whole New You (Columbia)
Don’t let the title of Texas singer Colvin’s long awaited follow-up to A Few Small Repairs fool you. The music is the same kind of lyrically introspective, sunny pop/folk material that helped Small win big at the Grammys in ’97. She’d better clear some shelf space.