Category: the isley brothers

Born on this day: May 21, 1941 – Isley Brother…

Born on this day: May 21, 1941 – Isley Brothers lead vocalist Ronald Isley (born in Cincinnati, OH). Happy 78th Birthday, Ron (aka Mr. Biggs 😀 )!!

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1978 – “Take Me To The Next Phase Part 1” by The Isley Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks. Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper, Rudolph Isley, O’Kelly Isley and Ronald Isley, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the family band from Cincinnati, OH. The main body of the song is written by the three younger members of the band while recording at Bearsville Studios in upstate New York. They cut two different versions of the song before settling on the final released version. It is issued as the first single from their sixteenth studio album “Showdown” in March of 1978. “Take Me” surprisingly does not chart on the Billboard Hot 100, though its success on the R&B chart helps propel the “Showdown” album to Platinum status, peaking at number four on the Billboard Top 200, spending three weeks at number one on the R&B album chart. In 2004, Sony Legacy releases a remix album of Isley Brothers classics titled “Taken To The Next Phase”. The set features ten of the band’s best known songs remixed by Will I. Am, Stuart Matthewman (of Sade), Raphael Saadiq and Mos Def. The remix version of “Take Me To The Next Phase” featured on the album is by the production team The Ignorants.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1983…

On this day in music history: April 24, 1983 – “Between The Sheets”, the twenty second album by The Isley Brothers is released. Produced by The Isley Brothers, it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Bearsville, NY from November 1982 – February 1983. In their third decade, The Isley Brothers begin the 80’s with the Platinum “Go All The Way” and the Gold plus “Grand Slam” albums. The next two albums “Inside You” and “The Real Deal”, become their first not to go Gold since 1973. Creative differences and financial difficulties add to the discord. With the younger members Ernie, Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper at the creative center, much of their next album is written in the studio. During the sessions, R&B superstar Marvin Gaye is in the middle of making a major comeback with “Sexual Healing”. Ernie begins writing in a similar vein, and comes up with a verse of lyrics, ending with “sharing our love…”. Showing it to Chris, he grabs a pen and paper, writing down the words “between the sheets”, and tells Ernie to sing them. The pair realize that they are on to something special. Chris comes up with the bridge including the lyrics “Ooh baby, I feel your love surrounding me, ooh baby, sharing our love, between the sheets.”. Also changing the chords, he changes the rhythm. Younger brother Marvin writes the next two verses, with Jasper adding the final coda “Oh, I love the way you receive me, Girl, I love the way you relieve me…I’m comin’, comin’ on strong, sweet darlin’, in between the sheets.”. With the three older brothers adding their vocals, the track is complete. Titled “Between The Sheets” (#3 R&B, #101 Pop), it is released as the first single on March 9, 1983, and becomes an instant classic. The album’s upward momentum is so great, it temporarily breaks Michael Jackson’s thirty seven week long stint at #1 with “Thriller”. In later years, “Between The Sheets” takes on a life of its own, becoming a cornerstone sample in Hip Hop. It forms the basis of numerous rap classics by A Tribe Called Quest, The Notorious B.I.G. and Keith Murray to name a few. “Sheets” is also covered by Fourplay & Chaka Khan, and Raheem DeVaughn. The follow up single “Choosey Lover” (#6 R&B) also attains classic status. “Lover” is covered by Aaliyah, and is sampled and interpolated by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Nas, and Keith Sweat. In spite of hitting a musical home run, it also marks the end of the classic “3+3” line up, with Ernie, Marvin and Chris leaving to form Isley Jasper Isley, while the older siblings continue without them. Originally released on CD in 1990, “Sheets” is remastered and reissued in 2015, featuring five additional bonus tracks. “Between The Sheets” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number nineteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 23, 1977 -…

On this day in music history: April 23, 1977 – “The Pride (Part 1)” by The Isley Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #63 on the Hot 100 on May 28, 1977. Written by Rudolph Isley, O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Chris Jasper, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley, it is the third R&B chart topper for the family sextet from Cincinnati, OH. Keyboardist Chris Jasper comes up with the initial idea and basic structure of the song. The track is cut at Bearsville Studios in near Woodstock, NY in November 1976. Released as the first single from The Isley Brothers’ fifteenth studio album “Go For Your Guns”, it is an immediate hit on R&B radio. It is also the first Isleys single to be issued as a commercially released 12" (b/w “Hope You Feel Better Love” from “The Heat Is On” album). Though “The Pride” is another R&B chart topper, surprisingly it fails to become a major pop crossover hit. However, it helps to continue the bands streak of million selling albums. It propels the “Go For Your Guns” album to number one on the Billboard R&B album chart (for one week), to number six on the Top 200 in the Spring of 1977, and to Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: April 19, 1980 -…

On this day in music history: April 19, 1980 – “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love)” by The Isley Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also peaking at #39 on the Hot 100 on May 24, 1980. Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and O’Kelly Isley, it is the sixth and final R&B chart topper for the family sextet from Cincinnati, OH. By 1980, the once harmonious “3+3” line up of The Isley Brothers are showing signs of those family bonds splitting apart. Having major disagreements over musical direction, money and unhappy at the somewhat lukewarm response to their previous album 1979’s “Winner Takes All”, the three younger members Ernie and Marvin Isley and Chris Jasper make plans to leave the band to form their own. One of the songs they intend to record for their debut (as “Isley Jasper Isley”) is the silky ballad “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time For Love)”. But with The Isley Brothers still owning CBS several more albums, they are persuaded to stay and release the material as a new Isleys album. Issued as the first single from the bands eighteenth studio album “Go All The Way”, it becomes an immediate hit on R&B radio and a Quiet Storm mainstay. The song is also sampled by producer J. Dilla on the tracks “Bye” and “So Far To Go”. “Don’t Say Goodnight” (It’s Time For Love)“ propels the "Go All The Way” album to the top of the Billboard R&B album chart, number eight on the Top 200, and to Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: April 19, 1969 -…

On this day in music history: April 19, 1969 – “It’s Your Thing” by The Isley Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on May 3, 1969. Written by O’Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley and Rudolph Isley, it is the first chart topping single for the family group originally from Cincinnati, OH. After spending almost four years recording for Motown Records, the Isleys split from the company when they are offered a deal with New York based Buddah Records, that also includes reviving their label T-Neck Records. Once they sign with Buddah in early 1969, they quickly get to work recording their first album for the label. The brothers record at A&R Studios in New York City in January 1969 with a group of musicians that include Skip Pitts, Jr. (guitar), Herb Rooney (piano), George Moreland (drums) and their then sixteen year old brother Ernie Isley on bass. The basic track is perfected in only two takes. Released on February 16, 1969, the song is an immediate across the board smash, scaling the both the pop and R&B singles chart simultaneously. “It’s Your Thing” wins The Isley Brothers a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Group in 1970. Their former label Motown claim the Isleys recorded the song while still under contract to them. The lawsuit drags on for nearly seven years when matter is finally settled out of court, in the Isleys favor. The song is one of The Isley Brothers’ most widely covered compositions, with various artists putting their own unique spin on it. Some of the artists include Ann Peebles, Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, Johnnie Taylor, The Moments, and Grant Green to name a few. Not long after The Isleys’ original version is a hit, James Brown protege Marva Whitney releases the answer record “It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who To Sock It To)”, which becomes a Hip Hop sample staple. Jazz saxophonist Lou Donaldson’s version also becomes heavily sampled by numerous rap artists including Brand Nubian, De La Soul, and Funkmaster Flex. “It’s Your Thing” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 10, 1978 -…

On this day in music history: April 10, 1978 – “Showdown”, the sixteenth album by The Isley Brothers is released. Produced by The Isley Brothers, it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Bearsville, NY from November 1977 – February 1978. Coming off of the Double Platinum smash “Go For Your Guns”, The Isley Brothers keep up their frenetic pace of recording and touring, returning to the studio in the Fall of 1977 to record the follow up. In keeping with the credo, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, the band turn out another taut set of their signature funk-rock grooves and silky slow jams. Led by the single “Take Me To The Next Phase” (#1 R&B), which in spite of quickly topping the R&B singles chart, does not chart on the Hot 100. However, this does not affect the Isleys’ momentum as the album becomes another huge seller. It spins off three singles including “Groove With You” (#16 R&B) and the title track. Other non-single tracks like the funky grinding “Ain’t Givin’ Up No Love”, the more uptempo “Rockin’ With Fire” and the laid back and mellow “Coolin’ Me Out” all become favorites. Originally issued on CD in the early 90’s, the album is remastered and reissued in 2015 as part of The Isley Brothers career retrospective box set “The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters, 1959-1983”. The reissue features five additional bonus tracks, including the single edits of the three released singles and previously unreleased versions of “Take Me To The Next Phase” and the title track. “Showdown” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: March 26, 1977 -…

On this day in music history: March 26, 1977 – “Go For Your Guns”, the fifteenth album by The Isley Brothers is released. Produced by The Isley Brothers, it is recorded at Bearsville Studios in Bearsville, NY from October 1976 – January 1977. Issued as the follow up to the bands third Platinum album “Harvest For The World”, The Isleys continue their streak as one of the top bands of the era. After working closely with musicians Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil on their previous four albums, “Go For Your Guns” is the first Isley Brothers album to be helmed completely by the band alone. “Guns” sees the three younger members of the band stretching and flexing their creative muscle further. Led by the funky and socially conscious “The Pride” (#1 R&B, #63 Pop), the albums combination of stomping funk-rock and tender slow jams make it another instant success. The side two closer “Livin’ In The Life” (#4 R&B, #40 Pop) featuring the title track instrumental reprise becomes another fan favorite, and a highlight of The Isley Brothers live performances during this era. It spins off off a further single with the ballad “Voyage To Atlantis” (written mostly by lead guitarist Ernie Isley) (#50 R&B), which also becomes one of the bands most popular and loved songs. Though not released as a single A-side, the track “Footsteps In The Dark” becomes a huge R&B airplay favorite, as well as being widely sampled by several artists including Ice Cube (“It Was A Good Day”) and J. Dilla (“Won’t Do”). Along with the standard stereo LP, “Guns” is also remixed and released in quadraphonic stereo on vinyl and 8-track tape. It is the last of the five Isleys’ albums issued with a separate quad stereo mix. Deleted shortly after its release, it is also the rarest and hardest to find. First issued on CD in the early 90’s, the album is remastered and reissued in 2015 with three additional bonus tracks added, and is included in the career retrospective box set “The Isley Brothers – The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959 – 1983). "Go For Your Guns” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number six on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 7, 197…

On this day in music history: September 7, 1974 – “Live It Up”, the twelfth album by The Isley Brothers is released. Produced by The Isley Brothers, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from May – June 1974. Flush with the success of their first Gold album “3 + 3”, The Isley Brothers return to the recording studio in the Spring of 1974, to record the follow up. Not wishing to fix what isn’t broken, the band continue in the groove they have established. Most of the “Live It Up” album contains original material written by the band, including the ultra funky title track (#4 R&B, #52 Pop) which is released as a single in July of 1974. Keyboardist Chris Jasper comes up with the initial idea for the song, with Ernie writing and playing the tracks’ fiery guitar solos, as well as playing drums. The album is well received by fans, and quickly climbs the charts during the Fall and Winter of ‘74.  It is followed by the free flowing funk of “Midnight Sky” (#8 R&B, #73 Pop). Though it isn’t released as a single, one of the albums’ standouts is its lone cover, a silky rendition of Todd Rundgren’s recent hit “Hello It’s Me”. Featuring Ronald Isley’s sensuous lead vocals, the song garners strong airplay from R&B radio, and in time becomes a favorite of basement parties, and a staple of Quiet Storm radio. Along with the standard release of the album, “Live It Up” is also remixed into quadraphonic stereo, and reissued on vinyl and 8-track tape. Originally released on in the early 90’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2004, with a live recording of the title track performed on Dinah Shore’s talk show in 1974. The album is remastered and reissued again in 2015, as part of the career spanning CD box set “The Isley Brothers: The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959 – 1983)”, with the single edits of the two singles including the previously unreleased edit of “Ain’t I Been Good To You” (scheduled for release but canceled) as bonus tracks.. “Live It Up” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number fourteen on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 7, 1973 -…

On this day in music history: August 7, 1973 – “3 + 3”, the eleventh album by The Isley Brothers is released. Produced by The Isley Brothers, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1973. Enjoying a string of hits since “It’s Your Thing” in 1969, The Isley Brothers undergo significant changes in the new decade. Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly bring brothers Ernie, Marvin and brother-in-law Chris Jasper into the fold. The younger three first participate as backing musicians, becoming full time members upon completing their educations. The Isley’s label T-Neck signs with CBS Records, after their contract with Buddah Records ends at the end of 1972. Looking for assistance with their next album, The Isleys contact Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil. The masterminds behind Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, the duo are also the catalysts behind Stevie Wonder’s innovative use of synthesizers during the 70’s. The band first meet the pair while working with Wonder, as they’re recording “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing”. The band ask the duo to work with them, with Margouleff and Cecil signing on to engineer their album, recording in Studio B at The Record Plant. Unhappy with the sound of Ernie Isley’s guitar, Malcolm Cecil introduces him to famed British electronics engineer Roger Mayer. Inventor of the Octavia effects pedal, Mayer is one of the architects behind Jimi Hendrix’s technical innovations. He plays a vital role in assisting Ernie in shaping his signature guitar sound. A mixture of originals and well chosen covers, The Isley Brothers record the album in only six weeks. It is led by a dramatic reworking of the band’s song “That Lady” (#2 R&B, #6 Pop), released on July 14, 1973. First recorded in 1964 as “Who’s That Lady?”, it is reinvented as an up tempo R&B/Rock groove, topped by Ernie’s epic solos. Its success marks the beginning of a new and hugely successful era for the veteran R&B band. The album spins off two more singles including “What It Comes Down To” (#5 R&B, #55 Pop), and a cover of Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” (#10 R&B, #60 Pop). “3 + 3” is also remixed and issued as a quadraphonic stereo LP and 8-track tape in 1974. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2003 with one additional bonus track. The quadraphonic mix is also reissued as a hybrid SACD in 2001 (also including the original stereo mix) which becomes a sought after collectible after it goes out of print. Unavailable on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl in 2013, and as a limited edition blue vinyl pressing by Friday Music in 2014. The CD is remastered again in 2015 as part of the box set “The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983)”, with nine additional bonus tracks. “3 + 3” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number eight on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum by the RIAA.