Top positive review
20 people found this helpful
on 23 February 2009
The Isley Brothers had hits on Motown, but, in common with many others, never quite moved out of the shadow cast by the labels giant vocal groups. Frustrated, they left to set up their own label, T-Neck, and set about proving that they could be big stars given the right material and backing.
That they achieved stardom isn't in doubt, as they carved a niche for themselves with a blend of Soul, Funk and Rock which took the vocal tradition in which they had grown and overlaid that with newer influences brought by 3 younger family members, who joined the group in 1973, having originally been backing musicians since 1968.
Although they had issued albums distributed by the Buddah label, some featuring hit singles, it wasn't until they signed with the Epic label that they got the promotional push they needed. The first album on Epic, was a major success for the Isleys - "3+3" was the first album by the expanded group. The iconic status of that album is reinforced by the fact that 7 of the 9 tracks on 3+3 feature here, with "That Lady" the best known and the best example of their new sound, with new group member Ernie Isley's guitar taking centre stage.
They followed up with a series of albums featuring Funk/Rock workouts and smooth Soul ballads in equal measure, with social comment never far from the agenda, so here you'll find "Fight the Power" (sampled by Public Enemy) and "The Heat Is On" as examples of the former, rubbing shoulders with the less frenetic "For the Love Of You" and "Harvest For The World", the latter probably the best known of the Isley's work. Indeed between 1973 and 1981 the band released an album a year, although the later material is wisely missing from this set, as the early 80's were a relative low point for the Isleys.
As with all "Best Of" compilations, you may have your favourites which you would have included - I would have liked "Live It Up" and "Between The Sheets" for example - but this set takes you from the early post Motown releases of "It's Your Thing" and "Love The One You're With" in the late 60's to the mid '80's success of "Caravan Of Love", so you have a truly representative sample of their hits and key album tracks.
The Isley Brothers were a major part of the rise of Black Music, it's expansion into the album format and it's dominance of the early '70's. As you listen to this set, you'll hear tracks you've forgotten and favourites you love - and if you are too young to have heard them the first time round there's a good chance you've heard a sample, as the Isleys are probably just behind James Brown and right up with Sly and Curtis Mayfield as the most sampled artists of all time.