Thursday, 11 April 2019

The Isley Brothers - Showdown (1978)

  

Released April 1978

Released when disco was the big thing, this Isley Brothers album mixes their brand of funky soul with rock influences with a definite disco rhythm on a lot of the tracks. The line up that started this phase of their career in 1973 with "3 + 3" was beginning to sound a bit samey by now, but this is still an acceptable album, but it was probably the last of the group's really good-selling offerings. Were those outfits for real on the cover, though, lads? Dear oh dear.

TRACK LISTING

1. Showdown
2. Groove With You
3. Ain't Givin' Up No Love
4. Rockin' With Fire
5. Take Me To The Next Phase
6. Coolin' Me Out
7. Fun And Games
8. Love Fever                                                  

"Showdown" is complete with Michael Jackson vocal yelps (so that's where he got them from) and a solid disco groove. Incidentally, the "rehearsal" cut of this track that comes with the latest remaster is superb, and superior to this one that was used on the eventual album, for me. Either version is a corker, however. Muscular, funky disco.

Often on a Isleys album, the first half would be groovers, the second smoochy ballads. Here, we get a sweet soul number second one up in the slick, soulful "Groove With You". Quality soul on offer here. The same applies to the slow-cookin' "Ain't Givin' Up No Love", which marries some Sly Stone-ish vocals and some solid Parliament-style funk with Ernie Isley's unique rock guitar.


"Rockin' With Fire" brings back the disco/rock beat with another Jacksons-influenced floor-stomper. It is full of disco riffs, pounding drums and funky clavinet. This is a copper-bottomed piece of disco with a rock edge to it. The groove continues with the uber-funk strut of "Take Me To The Next Phase", another Funkadelic/Parliament/Sly Stone-style number. It has some "live" crowd noises tagged on to it, but it is a studio recording. "Coolin' Me Out" lives up to its title with a laid-back, cool slice of melodic, harmonious soul.

Some exuberant wah-wah guitar introduces the catchy, vibrant slick urban disco of "Fun And Games". "Love Fever" is another lively, infectious groover, enhanced by some more killer guitar and an insistent, intoxicating beat.

All of these tracks are extended versions, listed as "Parts 1 & 2", consistent with most of their seventies albums. This is a good album for experiencing the best of the, often overlooked, quality disco fare that was being served up in 1978, that was not always appreciated either at the time or subsequently.

B-

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