Tuesday, March 01, 2005

It's Your Thang! The Isley Brothers

What can I say about the Isley Brothers?! They are a legendary group! They have some of the biggest hits and longest careers in the music industry PERIOD! It's difficult to not speak on the Isley Brothers without using superlatives, but I'm going to break it down for you regardless...

The Isley Brothers, originally 3 members (O'Kelly, Rudolph, and Ronald), started off as a gospel group in Cincinatti in the 50's. Towards the late 50's / early 60's they moved to New York City and began their career as Rhythm and Blues singers on the RCA label. During that time they recorded their first smash hit "Shout," which gave the group immense recognition and built their reputation, especially from their live performances of the song.

The Isley's continued to produce hit songs for a variety of labels until they formed their own label called T-Neck Records in 1964. This was quite the achievement at the time, especially since almost all record companies up until that point have been "White" owned and operated. The Isley's paved the way for other black entreprenuers and artists to take control of their destiny. During the early years of T-Neck the Isleys even worked with a then unknown Jimi Hendrix, but because of creative differences they decided to part ways.

T-Neck did not do well in it's nascent stages. The group ended up signing a deal with Motown Records and worked with legendary producers Holland/Dozier/Holland, and of course continued to crank out the hits under the guidance of the forementioned super production team. However, the Isley Brothers' relationship with Motown did not last long, and the group decided to Re-activate T-Neck and add a few more brothers and one cousin to the group: brothers Ernie and Marvin, and cousin Chris Jasper. From this point on the Isley's adopted a funkier sound, and continued to produce hits in the same vein until the 1980's. The group went on hiatus in the late 80's / early 90's and eventually came back to recording in 1996. The Isley's continued to adapt to the days current styles and have continued releasing albums into the 2000's.

The Isley's have influenced and inspired many artists. The most notable of such artists is R. Kelly with whom the Isley Brothers have collaborated with. The Isley Brothers' have also influenced Hip Hop greatly as many artists/producers have sampled them to make hit songs of their own. The most widely known Hip Hop song that sampled the Isley's was "Big Poppa" by The Notorious B.I.G. The song that was sampled in "Big Poppa"is called "Between The Sheets." and I have included it for download, as well as "For The Love Of you" and "Footsteps In The Dark." I'm sure you'll recognize these songs even if you haven't heard them per se. They've been sampled on some of the biggest Hip Hop tunes in the 90's. You can purchase all three of these songs and more on one CD here.

Between The Sheets
For The Love Of You (Parts 1 and 2)
Footsteps In The Dark