Tuesday, 25 October 2011

"Harvest For The World" by THE ISLEY BROTHERS (2011 Big Break Records (BBR) 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...



"...Gather Every Man...Gather Every Woman..."

I've reviewed the "Original Classic Albums" mini box set from 2008 containing the first 5 albums by The Isleys on T-Neck between 1970 and 1973 (gems like "Brother, Brother, Brother" and the stunning cover versions set "Givin' It Back”). So I got a little hot under my white Soul Boy's collar when I opened this pre-order this morning. And it's absolutely been worth waiting for.

The Isley Brothers have made so many great albums (almost one in the year in the 60ts and 70ts) that their stuff just gets 'overlooked' and lost in the melee. And like The Staple Singers - their message of positivity fills their Soul and Funk with a warmth I keep returning too. Take 1976's "Harvest For The World" - a wickedly good but criminally forgotten platter. And that's where this superb BBR CD reissue comes in. Big Break Records of the UK are determined to get you to re-engage and who am I to disagree. Here are the thankful details…

Released Monday 24 Oct 2011 - "Harvest For The World: Expanded Edition" by THE ISLEY BROTHERS on Big Break Records CDBBR 0083 (Barcode 5013929038325) offers the 1976 LP with 3 Bonus Tracks and breaks down as follows (47:43 minutes):

1. Harvest For The World (Prelude)
2. Harvest For The World
3. People Of Today
4. Who Loves You Better
5. (At Your Best) You Are Love [Side 2]
6. Let Me Down Easy
7. So You Wanna Say Down
8. You Still Feel The Need
Tracks 1 to 8 are the album "Harvest For The World" - released May 1976 in the USA on T-Neck Records PZ 33809 and June 1976 in the UK on Epic Records S EPC 81268. It reached No. 1 and No. 9 on the US R'n'B and Pop charts.

BONUS TRACKS:
9. Harvest For The World (Instrumental) – the B-side to the US 45 for "Harvest For The World" on T-Neck ZS8 2261 released in July 1976 (the UK B-side on Epic S EPC 4368 had the album cut "Let Me Down Easy")

10. Who Loves You Better – Part 1 – a 3:30 minute edit of the album track (LP version runs to 5:31 minutes) issued as a 45 in the USA on T-Neck ZS8 2260 in April 1976 (Part 2 is the B-side)

11. Harvest For The World (Single Version) – a 3:30 minute edit of the album track (LP cut runs to 3:53 minutes) issued as a 45 A-side in the UK and USA (see 9 above)

The 12-page inlay has detailed and knowledgeable liner notes by SHELLEY NICOLE featuring interviews with band members. There are repros of American and UK 7” singles and promo shots of the band - but the best news is a new and superlative remaster by WAYNE DICKSON. I’ve had some of the tracks on the "It's Your Thing" 3CD box set for years to have the music, but I’ve always found the early Legacy issues a little dead – like they’ve been compressed or had the life sucked out of them somehow. Here is not the case – there is air and a slight hiss around the gorgeous opener – the "Prelude" version of "Harvest For The World" – it sounds amazing. And then of course – the real deal – the title track. To this day it puts hairs up on my arms. What a song and what a message (lyrics above).

Other gems include the powerful Sly Stone funk of "People Of Today" where social words meet the dancefloor ("…frustration is all you feel…"). Side 1 ends with the 1st single off the album in the States – "Who Loves You Better" which has an almost identikit guitar sound to "That Lady" from 1973 – great stuff and a bit of a forgotten goody. Side 2 mellows it down with loverman smoochers like "(At Your Best) You Are Love" and "Let Me Down Easy" – seductive to the point where you might find you reaching for the switch that turns on your bedroom mirrorball. Then it's on to the Doobie Brothers acoustic blast of "So You Wanna Stay Down" – very, very good indeed. It ends on a funky-as-mouldy-parsnips hip-gyrator called "You Still Feel The Need" which heralds how the next few LPs were going to go – Part 1 and 2 workouts – similar to "Pride" from 1977’s "Go For Your Guns". The single sides are a very cool inclusion too especially the rarely heard melody lines added to the "Instrumental" of the title track - "Harvest For The World".

So there you have it - great album, superb new remaster, presented well like all these BBR reissues are - and at a zippy price too.

"…Gather every man…gather every woman…give thanks for your children…" - Ronald sings on that stunning title track (a musical harvest for your soul - never mind the world). 

Like the Average White Band or even Hall & Oates – The Isley Brothers always seem to me to be on the verge of rediscovery by legions of Soul and Funk fans who have forgotten how good they ‘all’ were. Well this brill BBR CD reissue is a really great place to start reminding yourself…

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