The Isley Brothers

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: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  Givin' It Back

Company: T-Neck

Catalog: TNS 3008

Year: 1971

Country/State: USA

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: cut out notch; gatefold sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4

Price: $20.00

Cost: $1.00


In spite of the Crosby, Stills and Nash cover photo poise, this really is an Isley Brothers album.  


Self-produced, 1971's "Givin' It Back" was an interesting change of pace. More than willing to jump aboard the popular bandwagon, the album featured "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 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 # 1 8

- "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. (The album was originally released with a gatefold sleeve.)

"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: funk

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Go For Yoru Guns

Company: T-Neck

Catalog: PZ 34432

Year: 1977

Country/State: USA

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: gatefold sleeve; includes original custom inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 912

Price: $20.00


My introduction to The Isley Brothers came through  a college roommate who owned 1977's "Go for Your Guns" and played it on a regular basis.  Not a bad way to discover the band.   Showcasing seven extended, group-penned numbers, the album wasn't a major departure from their patented mid-'70s sound, rather was notable for finding the band firing on all cylinders, showing their surprising musical diversity.  Sure, a couple of tracks like 'The Pride (Parts 1 and 2)"  would have benefited from a bit of judicious editing, but there literally wasn't a bad tune across the whole album.  Given all seven tracks were commercially viable, this may have been the band's most consistent and enjoyable album.  Certainly the one that had the biggest impact on me.  Worth the price just for the blazing rocker 'Climbin' Up the Ladder' ...

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

1.) The Pride (Parts 1 and 2)   (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 5:33

I've always though The Isleys' mid-'70s output was a great example of how funk, soul, and rock influences could come together and the blazing 'The Pride' was one of their best.   Always loved Marvin's poppin' bass moves on this one.  The track was also released as a double sided single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Footsteps In the Dark (Parts 1 and 2)  (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 5:07

Folks tend to focus on the band's up-tempo work, but I've always found their slow groove numbers to be equally impressive.   With an instantly recognizable voice, I'd argue that Marvin was one of the best "love man' balladeers out there.   Beautiful tune.  rating: **** stars

3.) Tell Me When You Need It Again (Parts 1 and 2)  (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 5:06

Showcasing Marvin's raspy voice, Ernie's Hendrix-inspired guitar and the incideously catchy title refrain, 'Tell Me When You Need It Again (Parts 1 and 2)  was an overlooked classic Isley Brothers tune ...  It was funky, but with a commercial edge that was perfect for mid-'70s radio that was willing to play more than the usual radio-friendly fodder.   I would have tapped this one as a single.   rating: **** stars


(side 2)

1.) Climbin' Up the Ladder  (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 6:39

For anyone who doubted The Isleys rock credentials - I present 'Climbin' Up the Ladder'.  Seriously, kicked along by some of the best bass you'll ever hear, the real star this time was Ernie's blazing guitar.  No doubt about it, but these these guys could have given most "big hair" AOR bands a big time lesson in how to do it right.   Ernie's extended fuzz solo is simply wonderful - if only everyone could play as well ...   rating: ***** stars

2.) Voyage To Atlantis  (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 4:32

In spite of the fact it sounded like they been taking notes while sitting in the front row of  Maurice White's write-a-power-ballad class, 'Voyage To Atlantis' was one of their best known and prettiest ballads, this was another track that benefited from some fine Ernie guitar.   Not only could he play tough rock, but this showed his ability to carve out a beautiful melody.   The tack was released as the third single off the album.    rating: **** stars

3.) Livin' In the Life  (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 4:15

Hardcore funk for people who don't like funk ...   and another hit single for the group.   rating: **** stars

4.) Go for Your Guns  (Ronald Isley - O'Kelly Isley - Rudolph Isley - Ernie Isley - Marvin Isley - Chris Jasper) - 2:16

I've always wondered why the instrumental 'Go for Your Guns' was listed as a separate tune since this was basically the second part of 'Livin' In the Life'.   Spotlight on Ernie ....   rating: *** stars


As mentioned, the album spun off three singles:


- 1977's 'Pride (Part I)' b/w 'The Pride (Part II)' (T-Neck catalog number ZS8 2262) # 63 pop; # 1 R&B

- 1977's 'Livin' In The Life' b/w 'Go For Your Guns' (T-Neck catalog number ZS8 2267) 3 40 pop

- 1977's 'Voyage To Atlantis' b/w 'So You Wanna Stay Down' (T-Neck catalog number ZS8 2270)


Propelled by the singles the album hit # 6 on the US charts, earning platinum sales.