I know the Isley Brothers more by reputation than by their music. I know their most famous song, and I know the most famous song from this record, but that’s about it. (Also, I may have forgotten that “Shout” and “That Lady” were by the same band until I listened to this record.) This record is their best, according to some. So maybe it will tell me whether or not I should listen to their other albums.
This is slick “smooth soul” much closer to Philly Soul than Stax, and that’s a problem for me. I can’t The overall vibe of the record works for me. I’d much rather listen to some soul with some grit to it.
But there is a touch of grit, and it comes in a really weird way. As someone else on RYM noted, there are some psychedelic soul solos straight out of a Funkadelic record piped in to the extended versions of the singles (and maybe on a few other tracks). They don’t really fit with the rest of the record and it feels like someone in the band was trying to take the songs into different territory, but the rest of the record doesn’t resemble that territory at all.
Frankly, if this is the best Isley Brothers record, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to listen to other albums. But I think the problem for me is really that I would have been better off listening to their early stuff, when they were a completely different band.
By way of something positive t finish on, I don’t hate their cover of “Listen to the Music,” even if it’s too straight-forward.
All tracks written by The Isley Brothers, except where noted.
- “That Lady” 5:35
- “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” (James Taylor) 4:00
- “If You Were There” 3:22
- “You Walk Your Way” 3:08
- “Listen to the Music” (Tom Johnston) 4:07
- “What It Comes Down To” 3:54
- “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” (Jonathan Edwards) 4:23
- “Summer Breeze” (Jim Seals, Dash Crofts) 6:12
- “The Highways of My Life” 4:17
- Ronald Isley – record producer, lead vocals, background vocals
- Rudolph Isley – record producer, background vocals
- O’Kelly Isley Jr. – record producer, background vocals
- Ernie Isley – background vocals (1, 6, 8), maracas percussion (6), tom-toms percussion (6), acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12-string guitar
- Marvin Isley – background vocals (1, 6, 8), bass guitar
- Chris Jasper – background vocals (1, 6, 8), clavinet keyboard (3, 5-7), Moog synthesizer (8-9), ARP synthesizer, acoustic piano, electric piano, tambourine
- George Moreland – drums (1-3, 5-7), tom-toms percussion (6)
- Truman Thomas – organ (3-6)
- Rocky – congas (1)