Isley Brothers, The


Band members               Related acts

- Everett Collins -- drums (1969-
- Ernie Isley -- vocals, guitar, drums (1973-84)
- Marvin Isley -- bass (1973-84)
- O'Kelly Isley (RIP 1986) -- vocals
- Ronald Isley -- vocals
- Rudolph Isley -- vocals
- Vernon Kelly (RIP) -- vocals (1958-59)
- Chris Jasper -- keyboards, drums (1973-84)
 
 

 

- Ernie Isley (solo efforts)
- Isley Jasper Isley
- Chris Jasper (solo efforts)

 

 

 


 

Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  This Old Heart of Mine

Company: Tamla

Catalog: 269

Country/State: Cincinnati, Ohio

Year: 1966

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: still in shrink with original price sticker ($2,99); mono pressing; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 5260

Price: $50.00

 

I’m not a political or social activist, but every time I see this album I have to smile in terms of how far this country has come in terms of dealing with race (not that Americans don’t have a long way to go).  Berry Gordy Jr. certainly deserves credit for his role in breaking down many of those racial barriers, but you also have to admire his marketing savvy.  Enough of a pragmatist to realize slapping a picture of two white kids on an album cover would generate an extra 100,000 in sales, he was more than willing relegate the Isleys to a small black and white photo on the back cover.  Mind you, they probably weren’t thrilled by the move, but then they were only the band …

 

Dropped by Atlantic, in late 1965 brothers Ronald, Rudolph an O’Kelly signed with Berry Gordy’s Tamla label.  Gordy promptly teamed them with his ‘A’ list writing/production team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland.  The collaboration was immediately successful resulting in a top-20 hit with the single ‘This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)’ b/w ‘There’s No Love Left’ (Tamla catalog number 54128). With a killer melody and near perfect performance from Randolph, not only was the single an Isley Brothers classic, but stands among the best things ever put out by Motown.  Released as a follow-up ‘Take Some Time Out for Love’ b/w ‘Who Could Ever Doubt My Love’ (Tamla catalog number 54133) also charted peaking at # 66.

 

As was standard marketing procedure, Tamla quickly rushed the band into the studio to record a supporting album.  Largely written and produced by Holland, Dozier, Holland, 1966’s cleverly titled “This Old Heart of Mine” packaged the earlier singles (‘A’ and ‘B’ sides) with a mixture of Motown classics (‘Nowhere To Run’ and ‘I Hear a Symphony’) and new studio material.  Largely rote performances, the Motown covers were professional but for the most part simply failed to add anything to the originals. Their energetic cover of ‘Stop! In the Name of Love’ was probably the best of the lot.  In contrast, newer material gave the brothers a chance to shine. Highlights included ‘Take Some Time Out for Love’ (complete with Little Richard-styled shrieks probably the wildest thing they recorded for Tamla), the gritty soul stompers ‘I Guess I’ll Always Love You’ and ‘Baby Don’t You Do It’, the stunning ballad ‘Who Could Ever Doubt My Love’ and the Gospel-flavored ‘Just Ain’t Enough Love’.   Yes, that made for a lot of highlights !   The interesting thing was that in spite of the throwaway covers, the album was thoroughly wonderful.  The Holland-Dozier-Holland-Isleys collaboration brought out the best in all parties, with at least 3/4th of the album standing up to repeated hearings.  Elsewhere, pulled as a single ‘I Guess I’ll Always Love You’ b/w ‘I Hear a Symphony‘ (Tamla catalog number 54135) also hit the pop charts, peaking at # 61.  The parent album also charted, hitting # 140 providing their creative and commercial zenith with Motown. 

 

"This Old Heart of Mine" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Nowhere To Run   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:48

2.) Stop! In the Name of Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:56

3.) This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:45

4.) Take Some Time Out for Love   (T. Kemp – Robert Gordy) – 2:26

5.) I Guess I’ll Always Love You   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:45

6.) Baby Don’t You Do It   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:32

 

(side 1)

1.) Who Could Ever Doubt My Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:40

2.) Put Yourself In My Place   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:42

3.) I Hear a Symphony   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:13

4.) Just Ain’t Enough Love   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland) – 2:15

5.) There’s No Love Left   (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland - Dean) – 2:57

6.) Seek and You Shall Find   (Hunter - Stevenson) – 3:33

 

Having scored a hit album and three hit singles The Isleys appeared set for a long and successful career with Motown.  Over the next year they continued to release singles for the label:

 

1967’s ‘Got To Have You Back’ b/w Just Ain’t Enough Love‘’ (Tamla catalog number 54146)

1967’s ‘One Too Many Heartaches’ b/w ‘That’s the Way Love Is’ (Tamla catalog number 54154

 

Unfortunately Motown management didn’t share the brothers’ interest in writing and producing their own material.  Unwilling to the brothers greater say in their own career, within a year the partnership was over.  Of course that didn’t stop Motown from continuing to release Isley singles, including:

 

- 1968’s ‘Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)’ b/w ‘Why When Love Is Gone’ (Tamla catalog number 54164)

- 1968’s ‘Behind a Painted Smile’ b/w ‘All Because I Love You’ (Tamla catalog number 54175)

- 1969’s ‘Take Some Time Out for Love’ b/w ‘Just Ain’t Enough Love’ (Tamla catalog number 54182)

   

 


Genre: soul

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Givin' It Back

Company: T-Neck

Catalog: TNS 3008

Country/State: Cincinnati, Ohio

Year: 1971

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: cut out notch; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 5014

Price: $9.00

 

Hi, we're Crosby, Stills and Nash. Obviously I'm just kidding ... 

 

Self-produced, 1971's "Givin' It Back" was an interesting change of pace for The Isley Brothers. More than willing to adapt to changing public tastes, the album found The Isley's jumping aboard the popular bandwagon, turning in  a series of 'Isleyized' versions of popular rock songs such as Dylan's 'Lay Lady Lay', a truly weird cover of James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain', and Steven Stills 'Love the One Your With'.  The set certainly had it's moments, most a result of Ernie Isley's blistering fret work (check out his solo on their cover of Neil Young's 'Ohio').  Unfortunately, stretched over an entire album the results kind of blurred together.  On the other hand, the collection proved to be a treasure trove for singles:

 

- 'Love the One You're With' b/w 'He's Got Your Love' (T-Neck catalog number TN-930) hit # 18; 

- 'Spill the Wine' b/w 'Take Inventory' (T-Neck catalog number TN-932) hit # 39

- 'Lay Lady Lay' b/w 'Vacuum Cleaner' (T-Neck catalog number TN-933) reached # 54. 

 

Propelled by the singles the parent album reached # 67. 

"Givin' It Back" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Ohio   (Neil Young) -
2.) Machine Gun   (Jimi Hendrix) - 
3.) Fire and Rain   (James Taylor) -
4.) Lay Lady Lay   (Bob Dylan) - 

(side 2)

1.) Spill the Wine   (Miller - Scott - Dickerson - Jordan - Brown - Allen - Lee Oskar) - 
2.) Nothing To Do But Today   (Stephen Stills) - 
3.) Cold Bologna   (Bill Withers)
4.) Love the One You're With   (Stephen Stills) - 

 




Genre: soul

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Between the Sheets

Company: T-Neck

Catalog: 38674-1

Country/State: Cincinnati, Ohio

Year: 1983

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)

Available: 1

GEMM Catalog ID: 5015

Price: $6.00

 

 

While 1983's self-produced "Between the Sheets" didn't come close to matching their mid-1970s classics, the album clearly demonstrated that The Isleys were capable of adapting to changing public tastes.  At the same time the set's slightly schizophrenic feel served to showcase building unhappiness and creative differences within the ranks.  While earlier albums always interspersed ballads and up tempo material, here it was split.  Side one featured a series of five old school ballads, while the second side served up funk and political commentary.  That divide highlighted the direction younger members Ernie, Marvin and Chris Jasper wanted to pursue.  In fact shortly after the album was released the three of them struck out on their own recording a series of albums as Isley-Jasper-Isley.  To be perfectly honest, much of the set sounded like the group was on automatic pilot, though propelled by Ronald's ultra smooth voice the side one ballads made for wonderful make out music.  While far and few between, Ernie's Hendrix-styled solos ('Ballad for the Fallen Soldier') provided most of the side two highlights (certainly preferable to the now dated synthesizers). Regardless, give the Isley's credit for pulling the two best tracks as singles: 

 

- 'Between the Sheets (Part 1)' b/w 'Between the Sheets (Part 2)' (T Neck catalog number ZS4-3797)

- 'Choosey Lover' b/w 'Choosey Lover (instrumental) (T Neck catalog number ZS4-3994)

 

The album also became a favorite sampling source for rappers.  Notorious BIG copped part of 'Between the Sheets' for his hit 'Big Poppa'.   Nas tapped part of 'Choosey Lover' for 'Street Dreams Remix', and Jay-Z appropriated 'Ballad for the Fallen Soldier' for 'A Week Ago'.

 

 "Between the Sheets" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Choosey Lover   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

2.) Touch Me   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

3.) I Need Your Body   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

4.) Between the Sheets   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

5.) Let's Make Love Tonight   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

(side 2)

1.) Ballad for the Fallen Soldiers   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

2.) Slow Down Children   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

3.) Way Out Love   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

4.) Gettin' Over   (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

5.) Rock You Good  (instrumental)  (Ernie Isley - Chris Jasper - Marvin Isley - Ronald Isley - Rudolph Isley - O'Kelly Isley) - 

 

 

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