Saturday, 2 March 2019

The Isley Brothers - 3 + 3 (1973)


Released August 1973

Recorded in Los Angeles

After getting the rough end of the stick in their latter years at Motown, The Isley Brothers had drifted for a bit in the late sixties/early seventies, then they move to the Epic label, added three more siblings (two brothers and a cousin) to their line up and fully exploited their liking for rock music influences, merging it into their already well-developed soulfulness. What we then had was a perfect soul/funk/rock band and this excellent album was the best of their mid seventies output, by far. The two siblings who joined were notable for their contributions - the unique rock guitar sound of Ernie Isley and the rubber-band bass style of Marvin Isley. They re-created The Isleys' sound overnight. This rock influence was not something that alienated soul fans, however, they loved it, it would seem and rock audiences allowed the group in to the circle of respect, too. Despite the new influences, it is still very much a soul album, however.


1. That Lady, Parts 1 & 2
2. Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
3. If You Were There
4. You Walk Your Way
5. Listen To The Music
6. What It Comes Down To
7. Sunshine (Go Away Today)
8. Summer Breeze, Parts 1 & 2
9. The Highways Of My Life                            

"That Lady, Parts 1 & 2" needs no introduction. It is a magnificent piece of souk/funk/rock fusion. Its iconic feature is Ernie Isley's wonderful, buzzy guitar that is all over it. The vocal and general, catchy soul vibe is infectious too. The cover of James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" is a sumptuous, seductive late-night soul ballad, with a beautiful vocal. "If You Were There" is a melodic, clavinet-driven pleasant soul number. "You Walk Your Way" is an inviting, rhythmic slow number, in the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes style, but with a much higher pitch of vocal.

The Isleys' take on The Doobie Brothers' country rock of "Listen To The Music" is interesting. The main riff is a funky clavinet one, and the drums are staccato and funkily groovy. The track is very different to the original. Some delicious funky wah-wah guitar introduces the lively and catchy, vocally harmonious "What It Comes Down To". It also features some searing guitar near the end.

"Sunshine (Go Away Today)" is a brooding, Sly & The Family Stone-influenced, excellent slice of funk rock. It is one of the underrated tracks on the album. Like "That Lady", the delectable "Summer Breeze, Parts 1 & 2" is surely known to all. It is actually a cover of a Seals & Crofts song but The Isleys well and truly made it their own. It is rhythmic, melodic, singalong, soulful, dare I say breezy. It is all of those things and more. Up there in The Isleys' top five, for sure. Check out that guitar in "Part 2". Awesome. Santana-esque. "The Highways Of My Life" is a laid-back, piano-led, tasty ballad to end this highly recommended and influential album with. Great album.

*** Incidentally the two "quad" mixes on the latest, extended release of the album are superb, even when played through the standard two speakers.


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