124. The Isley Brothers

“First formed in the 1950’s, the Isley Brothers enjoyed one of the longest, most influential and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music.” — All Music Guide

Wikipedia Entry for the Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers library of songs has great breadth, a quality that separates the best bands from the merely great. What holds them back is the volume of original songs; still, I can see how some fans would collect the complete works of this very impressive band. Their first hit was “Shout”. I would include the Otis Day & The Knights version here, but the clip is no longer available with sound.

I heard “It’s Your Thing” as a kid, and “That Lady” was a ubiquitous presence on AM radio in junior high school:

My friend Rich Supan, who may or may not be referred to as “Soul Brother #5” from now on, introduced me to other mid-1970s albums, especially Harvest For The World, with its “all-makeout music” 2nd side. The mid-1970s era is considered the band’s best and most fruitful, very unusual for a band nearly 20 years into its career. The addition of younger brother Ernie Isley was a key development. His guitar playing is influenced by Jimi Hendrix’s brief stint with the band. Here is the band playing “Summer Breeze”, though I would not recommend this clip, as I feel the showmanship takes precedence over the music. Somebody get those dancing girls off the stage, and tighten up that solo, Ernie!

Nevertheless, Ernie Isley’s presence enhances the studio work immensely. After careful consideration, here’s the list of songs:

Work To Do, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭✭
It’s Your Thing, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭✭
Harvest For The World, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭✭

That Lady, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭
For The Love Of You, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭
Freedom, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭
Shout, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭
Twist And Shout, The Isley Brothers ✭✭✭

Summer Breeze, The Isley Brothers ✭✭
I Turned You On, The Isley Brothers ✭✭
Fight The Power, The Isley Brothers ✭✭
This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You), The Isley Brothers ✭✭
(At Your Best) You Are Love, The Isley Brothers ✭✭
Hope You Feel Better Love, The Isley Brothers ✭✭

Hello It’s Me, The Isley Brothers
Live It Up, The Isley Brothers

Related Songs:

Hello It’s Me, Todd Rundgren ✭✭
Summer Breeze, Seals & Crofts ✭✭

Twist And Shout, The Beatles ✭✭✭ (Anthology 1)
Twist And Shout, The Beatles ✭✭✭ (Please Please Me)

Shout, Lulu ✭✭
Shout, Otis Day & The Knights ✭✭✭✭
Shout (Live), The Beatles ✭ (Anthology 1)

For Jimi Hendrix fans, the two songs often cited as good early examples with the Isley Brothers:

Testify (Pt. 1/2), Live It Up, The Isley Brothers (not included)

Move Over And Let Me Dance, Live It Up, The Isley Brothers (added to the Wish List, from The Isley Brothers: The Full Discover Package)

One thought on “124. The Isley Brothers

  1. Richard Supan February 11, 2010 / 5:19 PM

    Good posting John and yes I liked those 70’s grooves.

    A fairly definitive Anthology of The Isley Brothers hits is:
    “It’s Your Thing: The Story of The Isley Brothers” a three disk set I would recommend.

    Some other songs not listed by John:

    Romantic Ballads (Also known as “Baby Makin Music”)

    Love the One Your With
    Between the Sheets (Sampled by Ice Cube and Notorious BIG)
    Voyage to Atlantis (A personal favorite)
    Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love)

    More recent vintage:
    Down Low (Nobody Has To Know)- With R Kelly
    Contagious
    Just Came Here to Chill

    Funk:
    Take Me to the Next Phase
    The Heat Is On

    Not exactly the Isley Brothers, but a spinoff group, Isley/Jasper/Isley did a nice song called “Caravan of Love”.

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