Wednesday, 27 January 2010

“Original Classic Albums” by THE ISLEY BROTHERS. A Review of the 2008 Mini Box Set Containing 5 Superb Soul Albums From 1969 to 1973.

This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:

“…Go Where You Want To Go…Be What You Want To Be…That’s Freedom…”

Issued in 2008 “Original Classic Albums” (Epic 88697304842) is one of those dinky 5CD card-repro mini box sets and it breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 is the LP “The Brothers: Isley”, issued November 1969 in the USA on T-Neck TNS 3002 and June 1970 in the UK on Liberty SSL 10300 (30:43 minutes)
[All 9 tracks are originals]

Disc 2 is the LP “Get Into Something”, issued February 1970 in the USA on T-Neck TNS 3006 (39:48 minutes)
[All 10 tracks are originals]

Disc 3 is the LP “Givin’ It Back”, issued September 1971 in the USA on T-Neck TNS 3008 (41:56 minutes)
[All 7 tracks are cover versions:
1. Ohio/Machine Gun [Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/Jimi Hendrix – segued as one]
2. Fire And Rain [James Taylor]
3. Lay Lady Lay [Bob Dylan]
4. Spill The Wine [War]
5. Nothin’ To Do But Today [Stephen Stills]
6. Cold Bologna [Bill Withers – also features BW on Guitar]
7. Love The One You’re With [Stephen Stills]]

Disc 4 is the LP “Brother, Brother, Brother” (credited to “The Isleys”), issued June 1972 in the USA on T-Neck TNS 3009 (38:03 minutes)
[All 8 tracks are originals – except:
Tracks 1, 3 (Part 1 of) and 7 are “Brother, Brother”, “Sweet Season” and “It’s Too Late” (all Carole King covers) while track 2 is “Put A Little Love In Your Heart” (a Jackie DeShannon cover)]

Disc 5 is the LP “3 + 3”, issued September 1973 in the USA on T-Neck KZ 32453 and November 1973 in the UK on Epic S EPC 65740 (43:13 minutes)
[All 9 tracks are originals – except:
Track 2 is “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” (a James Taylor cover), track 5 is “Listen To The Music” (a Doobie Brothers cover), track 7 is “Sunshine (Go Away Today)” (a Jonathan Edwards cover), track 8 is “Summer Breeze” (a Seals & Crofts cover) and track 10 is a CD bonus track, a live version of “That Lady” recorded in 1980]

The remastered sound quality is superb throughout. The mini box holds 5 card sleeves inside which repro the original American T-Neck Records album covers front & rear – unfortunately they’re too small & blurry to actually read any details off of them, but you can download a full Sessionography for each album from Sony’s online site (download runs to 9 pages).

In truth I bought this mini box set for the “Givin’ It Back” LP – their hard-to-find covers album from 1971. It’s one of those fabulous lost soul gems you rarely ever see on vinyl let alone reissue CD (it pushes £25 in places). “Givin’ It Back” opens with a dynamite mix of CSYN’s “Ohio” with Hendrix’s “Machine Gun” and it's genius – both songs imbibed with extraordinarily passionate Isley vocals (the Vietnam war and its protests looming everywhere in the lyrics). “Lay Lady Lay” is excellent too, but it does overstay its welcome at ten minutes plus. This is offset against a radically reworked version of James Taylor’s “Fire And Rain” which is brilliantly soulful.

That the other albums also contain such an embarrassment of riches is of course a blast - a constantly repaying bonus. Check out their stunning cover of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” from her wonderful 1971 “Tapestry” album - it’s ten minutes long, but this time it works – beautifully soulful with searing guitar work throughout. The brass on “Freedom” too (lyrics above) leaps out at you from the speakers. Another particular favourite of mine is “Work To Do” which the Average White Band practically made their own on the fab “Pick Up The Pieces” Atlantic Records “AWB” album.

So there you have it – properly great soul music in wonderful sound – and five albums worth of it too.

A wee peach of a thing – recommended big time...

PS: Other artists in the “ORIGINAL ALBUM CLASSICS” Series are [FIVE DISC SETS]…

1. The Allman Brothers Band
2. Jeff Beck
3. George Benson
4. Big Audio Dynamite
5. Blue Oyster Cult
6. Pierre Boulez
7. The Brecker Brothers
8. The Byrds
9. Johnny Cash
10. Cheap Trick
11. Stanley Clarke
12. Cypress Hill
13. Miles Davis
14. Duke Ellington
15. Earth, Wind & Fire
16. Agnetha Faltskog [Frida of Abba]
17. Rory Gallagher
18. Hall & Oates
19. The Isley Brothers (see REVIEW)
20. The Jacksons
21. Jefferson Airplane
22. Jefferson Starship
23. Judas Priest
24. Kansas
25. Carole King
26. Kris Kristofferson
27. Mario Lanza
28. The Mahavishnu Orchestra
29. Henri Mancini
30. John McLaughlin
31. Thelonious Monk
32. Mott The Hoople
33. Willie Nelson
34. Harry Nilsson
35. Ted Nugent
36. Dolly Parton
37. Poco
38. Prefab Sprout
39. Elvis Presley
40. The Psychedelic Furs
41. Lou Reed
42. Lou Reed Vol.2
43. Sonny Rollins
44. Santana Box 1
45. Santana Box 2
46. Joe Satriani
47. Nina Simone
48. Lonnie Liston Smith
49. Patti Smith
50. Smokie
51. The Stranglers
52. Steve Vai
53. Various - Carols For Christmas
54. Various – The Joys Of Christmas
55. Weather Report
56. John Williams

PPS: Mondays 1 and 8 February 2010 sees the introduction of THREE DISC SETS in the Series in the “UK” – the artists featured are…

1. AMERIE (01/02/2010)
(All I Have/Touch/Because I Love It)
2. SHAWN COLVIN (08/02/2010)
[Steady On/Fat City/Cover Girl]
3. AGNETHA FALTSKOG [FRIDA of ABBA] (01/02/2010)
[Agnetha Faltskog/Nar En Vacker Tanke Blirsang/Elva Kvinnor I Ett Hus]
[Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac/Mr. Wonderful/The Pious Bird of Good Omen – The Original UK Album Track Lists – No Extras]
5. ARETHA FRANKLYN (01/02/2010)
[The Electrifying/The Tender The Moving The Swinging/Soul Sister]
6. JOURNEY (01/02/2010)
7. WILLIE NELSON (01/02/2010)
[Yesterday’s Wine/Red Headed Stranger/Stardust]
8. DOLLY PARTON (8/02/2010)
[Eagle When She Flies/Slow Dancing With The Moon/White Limozeen]
9. (CARLOS) SANTANA (08/02/2010)
[Illuminations/Oneness/The Swing of Delight]
10. SCORPIONS (01/02/2010)
[In Trance/Virgin Killer/Taken By Force]
11. SIMON and GARFUNKEL (01/02/2010)
[Sounds Of Silence/Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme/Bookends]
12. TOTO (08/02/2010)
[Toto/Hydra/Turn Back]
13. LUTHER VANDROSS (01/02/2010)
(Never Too Much/Give Me The Reason/The Power of Love)
14. THE WALKER BROTHERS (01/02/2010)
[No Regrets/Lines/Nite Flights]

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