Throughout the 1970s, the Ohio Players were infamous for their erotic album covers. But there are major differences between the covers of later Mercury albums like Skin Tight, Fire, and Honey and the covers of their earlier Westbound releases Pleasure and Pain.
Pictured: Pain (1971) with "Never Had a Dream".
At Mercury, the Players' album covers favored softcore erotica ala Playboy or Penthouse, whereas the covers of their Westbound LPs were more bizarre and offered kinky bondage/S&M imagery.
Pictured: Pleasure (1972) with "Laid It", "Walked Away from You", "Varee Is Love", and "Funky Worm"
Advertisement for their 1972 single "Funky Worm", which employed the Players' recurring "Granny" character
Ecstasy (1973) with "Spinning" and "Black Cat"
Skin Tight (1974) with "Jive Turkey", "Heaven Must Be Like This" and the title track
Climax (1974) with "Players Balling" and covers of "What's Going On" and "Proud Mary"
Rattlesnake (1975), a compilation released on their earlier label Westbound
Fire (1975), widely considered a masterpiece, with the hit title track, "Together", "I Want to Be Free", "It's All Over", "Smoke", and more
Honey (1975) with "Love Rollercoaster" and "Sweet Sticky Thing". Honey's erotic cover was protested by feminists when it was alleged that the model had become stuck to the floor during the photo shoot. Some retailers refused to carry it. All the controversy certainly didn't hurt the album commercially. This was their biggest album.
The cover for the "Love Rollercoaster" single showing the band in full, funky and freaky 70s fashion.
Contradiction (1976) with "Who'd She Coo", their last #1 hit
Angel (1977) with "Body Vibes", "O-H-I-O" and "Merry Go Round"
Mr. Mean (1977), a soundtrack album with a heavy jazz influence and several instrumentals
Advertisement for Mr. Mean (1977)
Jass-Ay-Lay-Dee (1978). By 1978, the Ohio Players' popularity had decreased considerably, and funk fans were much more interested in newer arrivals like Cameo, Bootsy Collins, Slave and Rick James. But the Players still had some life left in them with energetic offerings like "Dance (If Ya Wanta)," "Sleepwalkin'" and "Funk-O-Knots".
Everybody Up in 1979 brought a lot of disco gloss to the Ohio Players' funk along the lines of Earth, Wind & Fire or Kool & the Gang.