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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
In a way, the Isley Brothers have been taken for granted. Part of that is the group's unwitting doing because they were exceptionally steady. From 1966 through 1983, the Isleys placed at least one single on the Billboard R&B chart each year. They were always present, frequently at or near the top. For an extended period, they were among the most progressive groups, whether they were mixing gospel, soul, and rock, incorporating synthesizers without sacrificing the funk, covering pop hits and often surpassing them, or epitomizing quiet storm. When they retreated from the fore, they adapted with ease. Another factor in their undervalued status is that their vast discography has been reissued in chunks by various sources across the decades. The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters: 1959-1983, released by the Sony catalog's Legacy division, is a corrective measure in the form of a compact 23-disc box set. It doesn't cover the Isleys' brief '60s stints with Wand, United Artists, and Tamla, but it is remarkably generous with dozens of bonus tracks -- mono versions, single edits, instrumentals, and so forth -- and LP-replica sleeves for each album. As an extra enticement for those who dutifully rounded up those late-'90s Legacy and early-2010s BBR reissues, there's Wild in Woodstock, a previously unreleased recording of the Go All the Way-era band performing at Bearsville Studios. Intended for release with overdubbed crowd noise that was thankfully never applied, the set alternates between blistering and gliding and deserves a separate physical issue outside the box. ~ Andy Kellman
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Funk - Released August 21, 1973 | Epic - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1969 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released July 28, 2017 | Legacy Recordings

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Ever committed, Carlos Santana and the Isley Brothers locked themselves in a studio to produce this Power Of Peace album that combines soul, funk, blues, rock, jazz and pop with true craftsmanship. Made up of covers for the most part, this album, co-signed by the famous guitarist of Mexican origin and the masters of funk, includes titles by Stevie Wonder (Higher Ground), Billie Holiday (God Bless The Child), Curtis Mayfield (Gypsy Woman), Marvin Gaye (Mercy Mercy Me – The Ecology), Burt Bacharach (What The World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love) and Willie Dixon (I Just Want to Make Love to You). A perfect selection, at the heart of which shines an original song, I Remember, written and performed by Cindy Blackman, i.e. Mrs Santana … © CM/Qobuz
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R&B/Soul - Released August 3, 2004 | Epic

Try as companies might, a perfect anthology framing the famous family of funk still manages to elude even the most fickle of aficionados. While 2003's Ultimate Collection is an expansive look at the group's career, it most certainly isn't as thorough as 1999's outstanding Rhino box set, which is simply too rich to satisfy the curious or casual listener. Quite simply, it's nearly impossible to include the group's greatest moments on one disc, and most two-disc sets have a tendency to become ripe with filler. While The Essential Isley Brothers is no exception to the rule, it certainly is the most accessible when measured against the aforementioned anthologies. The track sequencing is erratic but covers many of the group's anthems right away on disc one, the most jarring contrast being between the opening pre-fuzzed good times of "Twist and Shout" and the fuzz-guitar orgy that became "That Lady." Disc two covers every single permutation of the group's later years: from the '80s quiet storm of Isley/Jasper/Isley's "Caravan of Love" to Mr. Biggs' collaborative work with R. Kelly in the early part of the 2000s. To include these later projects serves to give the listener a comprehensive survey of the Isley family evolution over the past five decades, but not much else would warrant the inclusion of "Down Low," especially in contrast with so many of their ultimate anthems. Overlooking that fact, you'll find yourself subconsciously (or intentionally) head-bobbing or toe-tapping along with these discs through and through, and rightfully so, as this is a first-class compilation that casual listeners and loyal devotees will be more than satisfied with. ~ Rob Theakston
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1970 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1971 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1975 | Epic - Legacy

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1975's The Heat Is On was the third album that the Isley Brothers recorded with their 3 + 3 lineup, and by that time, the lineup had really perfected its attractive soul/rock sound. The Isleys were providing great R&B long before keyboardist Chris Jasper, bassist Marvin Isley, and the distinctive guitarist Ernie Isley came on board in 1973; nonetheless, the newcomers added a lot to the group and helped it provide some of its best recordings. Marvin's basslines are as funky as it gets, and the Jimi Hendrix-influenced Ernie is a killer guitarist; he would have been perfect for Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, or Judas Priest if the Isley Brothers hadn't kept him busy in the 1970s. One of the 3 + 3 gems that no Isleys fans should be without is The Heat Is On, which is best known for the sweaty funk classic "Fight the Power" and the sexy quiet storm slow jam "For the Love of You." Lead vocalist Ronald Isley is as convincing on the funk scorchers as he is on caressing ballads like "Make Me Say It Again Girl" and "Sensuality." Meanwhile, "Hope You Feel Better Love" is brilliant because it contrasts those two sides of the 3 + 3 lineup -- the verses are sweetly melodic, but the chorus is forceful and explosive. Superb from start to finish, The Heat Is On is among the Isleys' most essential albums. ~ Alex Henderson
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1977 | Epic - Legacy

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Every ten years the Isley Brothers reinvented themselves and managed to snatch as many consumer dollars and generate enough chart action to remain contemporary. Go for Your Guns was a further attempt by the Isleys to broaden their fan base; earlier in the decade they redid many rock standards to expand from the R&B base they were mired in. The Isleys shoot for the moon and never make it, but they always land among the stars. This seven-song set got played to death on urban radio. "Living in the Life" rocks so hard it makes cheap speakers pop; "Go for Your Guns" is an instrumental jam featuring the second generation Isley Brothers: Ernie, Marvin, and Chris Jasper (Rudolph Isley's brother-in-law). The lovely, mystical "Voyage to Atlantis" is a staple of their live concerts, its opening strains acknowledged by deafening, enthusiastic applause. Like many Isley tunes, the loping, mid-tempo love tale "Footsteps in the Dark" has been sampled silly; "Pride" is a steady beater with uplifting words for the downtrodden. Nothing dull, no filler. ~ Andrew Hamilton
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R&B/Soul - Released February 2, 1999 | Epic

Seldom do compilations, best-of collections, or even box sets capture the big picture on an artist in a way that's as definitive as the music they are attempting to chronicle. There's always something missing: a tape that didn't turn up and no decent vinyl copies around to copy from, or the licensing of a couple of essential tracks from another company fell through the legal cracks and didn't make the final lineup. Bottom line: definitive collections or box sets seldom are. But this one is. The Isley Brothers have been part of the musical landscape for such a long time, it's almost as if they had existed forever. Their musical history runs the gamut from early doo wop to proto-soul to funk to present-day R&B. Their reputation as a house-wrecking live act is superseded only by James Brown and a handful of other R&B performers. Their influence extends to the Beatles and to Jimi Hendrix, who served time in the Isley Brothers' band when he was still a scuffling youngster. They brought church music to the street and infused it with a pop sensibility that never lost its soulfulness. On this three-disc box set, listeners hear the story of that music and see an innovative group finally getting its due. Although the music on this set is cross-licensed from numerous companies and runs the entire scope of the Isley Brothers' career, it is not sequenced chronologically, or at least not on the opening disc. The earliest doo wop sides cut for a series of labels owned by George Goldner show up late in the game on disc one, which opens with the Brothers building up to a live version of "Shout" recorded at Yankee Stadium, followed by the original studio version of the classic. But nice examples of their work from their stints with RCA Victor, Wand, Motown, Atlantic, Cindy, Mark X, and Teenage set the stage perfectly for their own label masterworks on T-Neck. The true bonus of the early tracks on disc one are two tracks featuring Hendrix on guitar. Hearing 1965's "Move Over and Let Me Dance" is not unlike hearing Elvis Presley's Memphis Recording Service demos; the man is not yet a star, yet all the pieces are in place, waiting to happen. Disc two -- covering 1971-1975 -- is where the Brothers hit their stride. They still crank out hits and take on unlikely tunes, truly making them their own. That the Isleys could take on material like the Seals & Crofts weenie "Summer Breeze" and make an R&B masterpiece out of it is still a marvel of creativity over form. Likewise, what they do with material from James Taylor, Todd Rundgren, and Stephen Stills is utterly transforming; they don't cover these songs so much as totally reinvent them in their style. The third disc picks up the story from 1976-1996, chock-full of great original material and loads of devastating guitar from Ernie Isley, a Hendrix disciple who learned it firsthand and almost single-handedly kept the style alive after Hendrix's death. As great and influential as the Isleys and their music have been these many decades, they have unfortunately never achieved the crossover success of Motown artists and other lesser lights of R&B. Their contribution to American music and to African-American culture is writ on this deluxe set, a box that should end up in every serious American music collection out there. Even if you already have some Isley Brothers in the stack, trade 'em in, because this one is the set you really need. ~ Cub Koda
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1983 | Epic - Legacy

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Compared to their past material, Between the Sheets lacks a consistent mix of sultry ballads and funky dance numbers. There are really only two Isley Brothers' classics on this project: "Choosey Lover" and the title song "Between the Sheets." The former has a romantic flow and the latter is just shy of mid-tempo but not a bona fide ballad. (When one thinks of a quiet thundering storm, this song's bassline comes to mind; as soothing as it is, it also has that trembling effect.) It fell short of number one, peaking at three on the Billboard R&B charts. It was becoming obvious that the group's continuity was fading -- not so much from dissension within the group, but more so from dwindling interest in the music industry among group members (it was the group's last album as 3 + 3). Marvin and Ernie Isley and their brother in-law Chris Jasper would release an album the following year as Isley Jasper Isley. ~ Craig Lytle
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1974 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1959 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released January 9, 2001 | Epic - Associated - Legacy

It's hard to believe that Ronnie Isley collaborated with Dr. Dre and the departed Tupac Shakur on some of the late 20th century's most hardcore hip-hop music. Isley, of the renowned group the Isley Brothers, has his roots firmly placed in '70s R&B and soul music. D'Angelo, Maxwell, and R. Kelly, among other bedroom-music artists, all owe a bit of thanks to the Isley Brothers, the original slow-jam crooners. The trio's sexiest and most sensual moments have been captured on Love Songs, an ongoing series of CD collections of the same name on Columbia Legacy and Epic Legacy Records. (Other Love Songs sets for 2001 include recordings from Frank Sinatra, Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, and Duke Ellington.) And as far as thematic compilations go, this one is a winner. The 13 selected tracks on Love Songs don't skip a beat, and the sexy boudoir fare remains consistent throughout the album's 70-plus minutes. There is a certain sensitivity inherent to Isley's falsetto voice that sets him apart from other singers in this category of music. It's a vulnerability and tenderness that Barry White, and others of the like, do not have. Such Isley Brothers greats as "For the Love of You," "Voyage to Atlantis," "Sensuality," and "Between the Sheets" are included on Love Songs. The CD is a treasured example of the original bedroom music, and arguably more potent than its contemporary counterparts. No amount of pheromones, love potions, or "spells" can come close to the romantic rendezvous that is the Isley Brothers' Love Songs. Play this album at your own risk -- and expect to call in "sick" to the office the next day. ~ Liana Jonas
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1972 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1976 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1979 | Epic - Legacy

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Winner Takes All was originally released as a two-album set, which reflected how popular the Isley Brothers were during this period of time. It features some rather lengthy but entertaining pieces. Ronald Isley's silky tenor remains untarnished throughout the album. "I Wanna Be with You" made its claim on the Billboard R&B charts, peaking at number one. "Winner Takes All" and "It's a Disco Night" followed in that order and only managed to reach numbers 38 and 27, respectively. Decent songs they are, but not as explosive as some of the Isley Brothers previously released up-tempo numbers. And as danceable as they, they come closer to good-listening songs. However, there are three solid ballads: "Let's Fall in Love," "How Lucky I Am" and "You're the Key to My Heart." Not one ever made a chart appearance, but all three remain popular to radio. ~ Craig Lytle
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R&B - Released January 1, 2004 | Motown

A powerful set by the Isley Brothers, who tasted success with "Shout" and "Twist & Shout" before joining Motown. Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier produced the lion's share of tracks, and wrote most of them with the aid of Eddie Holland. An infectious "This Old Heart of Mine" took off -- its throbbing beat, memorable melody, and inspired vocals are as irresistible now as they were in 1966. The urgent "Take Some Time Out for Love," with its wailing vocals, made a little R&B noise; a creation of Robert Gordy and Thomas Kemp, it's one of two tracks not handled by Holland-Dozier-Holland. The other is the insightful, biblically titled "Seek and You Shall Find," done magnificently by Ron Isley, who sings the positive lyrics with understated fire. "I Guess I'll Always Love You" is a midtempo gem sung by Ron in his natural register, as he does all these songs; the sweet falsetto he used almost exclusively in the '80s and '90s is nowhere to be found. Isley versions of "Nowhere to Run," "Stop in the Name of Love," "Baby Don't You Do It," and "I Hear a Symphony" are comparable to, if not better than, the originals. ~ Andrew Hamilton
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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 1978 | Epic - Legacy

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R&B/Soul - Released August 21, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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