on February 28, 2011
This one of many perfect Isley Brothers recordings. This is the early part of their career before the 70's funk becomes the common sound for the Isleys. The old school soul is nice and familiar, not a bad song in the bunch. The funky Isleys are much more fun, but the early recordings will not disappoint.
By this point it was very clear the Isley's would go through distinct musical periods. By the time this album was realesed they'd already went through three of them. First was their intial gospel/soul period,than a period of mildly rockier sessions for the UA label and than a stint at Motown. By this time fascinated by James Brown,it was not only James funk innovation that was appealing but the amount of control he had over his music. So the Isley Brothers,strong minded and willed as they were incorperated themselves as T Neck records and much as James began making music soley on their terms. So they were'nt only on the cutting edge of music. But also on the cutting edge as business men too. Of course,the time and attitude being as it was that meant a move into funk.
One important thing the Isley's knew by this time was the importance of allowing new rhythms to grow from older grooves. The opener "I Know Who You Been Socking It To" is very much the brother to the title song,which was not only a defining Isley hit but a defining moment for early funk. There's that chunky bassline at the opening and those ever present breaks. Other numbers such as "Somebody Been Messin" and "Give The Woman What They Want" have a heavy psychedelic soul edge about them with some fuzzed out guitar. At the same time uptempo jams such as "I Must Be Losing Touch","He's Got Soul" as well as ballads like "Save Me","Feel Like The World" and "Love Is What You Make It" harken back to the Stax/Atlantic mid 60's school of earlier funk. On the other hand "Don't Give It Away" throws down some heavy grooving with that African boogaloo rhythmic influence that excited JB so much at this time.
Now I would not call this a full on funk album in the way many might understand it. But with it's mixture of gospel based souther soul ballads,heavy grooving funk and uptempo horn based soul this is one of those records that made the funk open to all by heavily citing it's sources. It's part of what's often called "the funk process". A lot of early albums by Sly & The Family Stone and even Tower Of Power have a similar flavor to them. They have all the elements of funk there. But they don't mix together in a complete way on every single song. Of course,a lot of the 70's best funk bands started in this manner. And the Isley's would be among them. This albums thorough exploration of soul,in all it's old and new shadings really made it clear where their future would be. And as such it laid the groundwork for every Isley Brothers release for the next decade.