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The Isley Brothers Appreciation Thread

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Since @Casey only knows one Isley Brothers song, I decided that I'd state my case for Ernie Isley being the greatest living guitar player and introducing some bonafide bangers from their damn near 60-year run.

The Isley Brothers were successful well before Ernie became a full-time member, but Ernie's versatility as a guitar player is what makes them one of the greatest bands of all time.  The first Isley Brothers album that features Ernie's guitar playing is "Givin' It Back," an album of folk and pop covers that the Isley Brothers added funk and R&B elements.  Here is their cover of Neil Young's "Ohio" and Jimi Hendrix' (discovered by the Isley Brothers by the way) "Machine Gun."  Ernie and his guitar solos are the best part of this song, which is saying something because the drumming and Ronald Isley wailing falsetto are also exceptional here.

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Ernie officially joined the band in 1973 for their album "3+3," and immediately created one of the all-time great guitar riffs of all time on "That Lady."  Not to rest on his laurels, he also plays about 75 solos on this track and solidifies himself as a guitar god at the tender age of 21.  

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"That Lady" is probably his magnum guitar opus, but another song in the conversation has to be "Summer Breeze," a cover of the Seals and Croft hit.  He takes a mellow song about a beautiful summer day and makes it a funk masterpiece.  I once heard someone say the whitest song of all time is Seals and Crofts "Summer Breeze" and the blackest song of all time is The Isley Brothers "Summer Breeze," and I think I agree with them.

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"Ain't I Been Good to You Pts. 1 & 2" is a great illustration of the versatility of Ernie Isley's guitar playing, and the band as a whole.  They can make a high energy funk ditty like part 1 and then slow it down and make a ballad like part 2 and make both sound fantastic.  Part 2 is where Ernie's guitar playing really stands out, as he wails on his guitar just as passionately as his older brother pleads to his can't do right woman.  

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Very nice! Hard to believe that I've been listening to the Isley's since way before Ernie joined the band. Got turned onto them in 4th grade, that was a longass time ago. I was 15 when Ernie joined.

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I just dumped this in the other thread, so now here's some more words about Go For Your Guns.

I started learning bass when I was 11 because of Les Claypool. So, I've always had an up and down relationship with funk. I understand that like a large part of the stuff I like about bass comes from funk, but I always had a hard time relating with it. I tried and tried but I was never able to find anything funk adjacent that drove as hard or fast as any of the rock stuff I really liked. This continued on until last year, where off a random recommendation I checked out Go For Your Guns. And I was like enjoying it alright! It drove harder than some of the other stuff I've messed with.

Then this happens.

And that's how I started the funk phase that I've been going through for like the last year.

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Let me know what all your favorite Isley Brothers albums are. Please. Go For Your Guns caught me already with (of course) the second song (and you know why) so drop 'em. 

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On 9/23/2018 at 4:49 AM, Curt McGirt said:

Let me know what all your favorite Isley Brothers albums are. Please. Go For Your Guns caught me already with (of course) the second song (and you know why) so drop 'em. 

This is such a hard question, based purely on the fact that albums were produced so differently in the 60s and 70s than they are now.  If you think back on artists who are known for their great albums, like Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye, they probably released 10 or so albums with only one or two great songs a piece, before any of their classic albums.  For instance, Marvin Gaye's first greatest hits album came out in 1964 (one of 4 albums he dropped that year), and I'm willing to bet most of the people on this board doesn't know any of those songs. "What's Going On," his 11th studio album is the first album that any of us would call a classic.  "Music of My Mind," was Stevie Wonder's 14th album.  So, The Isley Brothers have countless albums with one or two great songs and nothing else, but that is more of a music industry issue, not an Isley Brothers issue.  

So with all of that said, I think "Giving it Back," is one of the best Isley Brothers' albums, despite the fact that it is a cover album.  They are one of the few bands that can legit play anything and make it their own, so it sounds like an Isley Brothers album.  "3+3" is probably my favorite Isley Brothers Album.  The addition of Ernie Isley's guitar, Marvin Isley's bass, and Chris Jasper's keyboards, took this from a 60's R&B/Soul band to a 70s Funk band.  They really let the newbies flex their muscles and the band is better because of it.  "Go for Your Guns" is great as well, and has two absolute classics in "Footsteps in the Dark," and "Voyage to Atlantis."  Speaking of, I think "Voyage to Atlantis," is the best R&B Power Ballad of all time.  

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Those are the 3 albums that I'd call essential listening, but they have great songs sprinkled throughout their career.  

I think the cross-genre comparison for The Isley Brothers is LL Cool J.  A long career full of great songs, but very few great albums.  The only difference is, LL Cool J's career came in an era where the quality of albums mattered.  

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Voyage to Atlantis is my shit!

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