The Isley Brothers : Essential Collection
Rare and unreleased tracks from The Isley Brothers' Motown years...More on
Inevitably then, the title of this compilation - collecting rare and unreleased tracks from their Motown years - is misleading. These songs are essential only if you're a completist.
You can see why Rudolph, O'Kelly and Ronald became disillusioned with the label. They were accomplished song-writers in their own right, but during their Motown residency they were guided towards lightweight pap like 'Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)' (imagine Status Quo's 'In The Army Now' rendered as a breezy, finger-snapping soul nugget), or else made to cover HDH tunes already given definitive readings by the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Supremes and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
Obviously, some of the music here is fantastic - the Isleys, after all, were among the greatest vocalists in soul. 'Got To Have You Back' is a baroque pop rush, the clattering Spector-esque drums augmented by psychedelic harpsichord; 'Trouble', meanwhile, is just pure, driving Northern Soul.
But as the sleevenotes tantalisingly prove, there's another essential collection to be compiled from the Isley's early years, tracks like 'Shout', and their first ever version of 'Who's That Lady?', and their first release on their own T-Neck records, 'Testify', which featured a certain Jimi Hendrix on guitar... Now that would make for a compelling anthology.
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