Ship Ahoy

Album: Ship Ahoy (1973)
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Songfacts®:

  • Ship Ahoy was conceived by producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff as a theme album built around the nine-and-a-half minute title track, featuring both socially conscious tracks and romantic tunes. It was one of the most commercially successful records released by Philadelphia International and became the highest selling R&B album on the Billboard Year-End chart for 1974.
  • This dark, ominous track tells of African captives being transported in a slave ship as part of the Middle Passage of the Atlantic slave trade. Gamble recalled to Mojo magazine March 2012 it was, "our version of that Middle Passage here Africans were being brought from West Africa, across that ocean, coming to a place to be slaves.

    Huff and I both went to Ghana, (to) the slave castle," he continued. "We stood in the Door Of No Return that led you right to the slave ship and that was it for you, you were done… finished with your family, your children, your wife, just disconnected from life and you we were in chains and they sold you like you was cattle or a donkey or anything."
  • Gamble and Huff originally wrote the song for inclusion on the soundtrack to Shaft in Africa before deciding instead to give it to the O'Jays as the centerpiece for their second Philadelphia album.

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