Sunday, 18 December 2011

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

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Big Break Records of the UK (part of Cherry Red) have a huge number of CD reissues focusing entirely on quality versions of Seventies and Eighties Soul, Funk, Disco and Fusion albums. I’ve reviewed over 30 (see list below) and each has been a revelation in terms of sound quality, presentation and bonuses - all top class. And this overlooked funky gem of an album from 1977 by the mighty Isley Brothers is no exception. Let’s gun for the details...

UK released 24 October 2011 – "Go For Your Guns" by THE ISLEY BROTHERS on Big Break Records CDBBR 0086 (Barcode 5013929038622) is an 'Expanded Edition' CD Remaster of the 1977 T-Neck Records LP with Three Bonus Tracks added on and plays out as follows (47:13 minutes):

1. The Pride (Part 1 & 2)
2. Footsteps In The Dark (Part 1 & 2)
3. Tell Me When You Need It Again (Part 1 & 2)
4. Climbin' Up The Ladder (Part 1 & 2)
5. Voyage To Atlantis
6. Livin' In The Life
7. Go For Your Guns
Tracks 1 to 7 are the album "Go For Your Guns" released March 1977 in the USA on T-Neck Records PZ 34432 and April 1977 in the UK on Epic Records EPC 86027. It reached Number 1 on the US R 'n' B charts (Number 6 on Pop) and hit Number 46 in the UK albums charts too.

8. Voyage To Atlantis (Alternate Version)
9. The Pride (Part 1) (Single Version)
10. Voyage To Atlantis (Single Version)

The album produced 3 singles in the USA (2 in the UK) at the time of release and this CD (along with its predecessor "Harvest For The World") will allow fans to sequence those tracks as follows:

1. The Pride (Part I) b/w The Pride (Part II)
(USA – February 1977, T-Neck ZS8 2262
UK – May 1977, Epic S EPC 5105)
2. Livin' In The Life b/w Go For Your Guns
(USA - May 1977, T-Neck ZS8 2267
UK - March 1974, Philadelphia International S PIR 2178)
3. Voyage To Atlantis b/w So You Wanna Stay Down
(UK – July 1977, Epic S EPC 5443
USA – October 1977, T-Neck ZS8 2270
Note: USA B-side is "So You Wanna Stay Down" from the "Harvest For The World" album (1976), but the UK B-side is "Tell Me When You Need It Again (Part 1 & 2)" which is on the "Go For Your Guns" album)

The 12-page booklet has an informative interview conducted by SHELLEY NICOLE with Ernie and Ronald Isley featuring recollections by the late Marvin Isley. There is a track-by-track breakdown and the text is peppered with pictures of US 45's on T-Neck, colour photos of the band and a discography/credits section at the rear. It's very well done and the jewel case is one of those new rounded-corner affairs - very tasty. But the really great news is the SOUND...

As with other BBR releases - this remaster uses the 'original tapes' and has been carried out by WAYNE A. DICKSON at the BBR Studios with STUART WEST assisting in the Audio Research. The results are wonderful. Everything on here sounds amazing.

To the album itself... It's predecessor "Harvest For The World" from 1976 was all mellow and Soulful and even Gospel in its overall feel – "Go For Your Guns" basically wanted to boogie – party a bit – and then make its way back to your shagpad afterwards for a serious session between the sheets. So as a long-playing record "Go For Your Guns" has everything fans love about the band – great loverman ballads combined with funky floor fillers.

It opens with the Rock-Soul bass-slapping Funk of "The Pride" and it's irresistible (topped the R&B charts in the USA). Having had your dancing shoes scuffed, they then hit with the real deal – the nugget on this album – the gorgeous slow groove of "Footsteps In The Dark" (lyrics above). "The Pride" opener sounds huge – but its on "Footsteps" that you begin to really notice how good the remaster is – everything so clear – warm and properly soulful. It amazes me to this day that T-Neck didn’t release it as a single at the time – surely a Top 5 if not Number 1 contender? It finally turned up in 45-form in the US and UK - but as a B-side to "Groove With You" in 1978. Speaking of 45s…

As with so many of these expanded BBR editions – the inclusion of the 7" single edits are a genuine bonus. I often feel that too many Seventies Soul LPs had songs on them they knew to be winners – so they’d stretch them to seven, eight, nine, ten minutes…often overstaying their welcome. The single edits gave you the concise version – and delivered a far better punch. Though in honesty with both "The Pride" and "Voyage To Atlantis" – BOTH the album versions and single cuts are superb. You can also hear why the 'Alternate Version' of "Voyage To Atlantis" was canned – it's very good – but the released cut is far better – especially with Ernie's stunning guitar intro more pronounced.

To sum up – this is a superlative release and I can only hope that BBR tackle more on the T-Neck, Philly and CBS labels output – especially when they add on those 7" edits for collectors...

(BBR) Big Break Records CD Remasters I’ve reviewed to date:

1. Is It Still Good To Ya – ASHFORD and SIMPSON (1978)
2. Stay Free – ASHFORD and SIMPSON (1979)
3. Central Heating – HEATWAVE (1977)
4. Hot Property - HEATWAVE (1979)
5. Candles - HEATWAVE (1980)
6. Turnin' On - HIGH INERGY (1977)
7. Harvest For The World - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1976)
8. Go For Your Guns - THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1977)
9. In The Heart – KOOL & THE GANG (1983)
10. I Hope We Get To Love On Time - MARILYN McCOO & BILLY DAVIS (1976)
11.  I Miss You - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1972) [known as "Harold Melvin The Blue Notes" in the UK]
12. Black & Blue - HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1973)
13. Love Is The Message - MFSB (1973)
14. Universal Love – MFSB (1975)
15. All The Faces Of... - BUDDY MILES (1974)
16. For The First Time – STEPHANIE MILLS (1975)
17. I Can See Clearly Now - JOHNNY NASH (1972)
18. In Philadelphia - O'JAYS (1969)
19. Back Stabbers - O'JAYS (1972)
20. Ship Ahoy - O'JAYS (1973)
21. Down To Love Town – THE ORIGINALS (1977)
22. Ebony Woman - BILLY PAUL (1970 and 1973)
23. 360 Degrees Of Billy Paul - BILLY PAUL (1972)
24. War Of The Gods - BILLY PAUL (1973)
25. Platinum Hook – PLATINUM HOOK (1978)
26. Love For What It Is - ANITA POINTER (of The Pointer Sisters) (1987)
27. Live: Stompin’ At The Savoy – RUFUS and CHAKA KHAN (1983)
28. Summernights – SILVER CONVENTION (1977)
29. Smoked Sugar - SMOKED SUGAR (1975)
30. Spinners – SPINNERS (1973)
31. Soul Master – EDWIN STARR (1968)
32. Involved - EDWIN STARR (1971)
33. Switch - SWITCH (1978)
34 Watercolors – THE WATERS (1980)
35. Just As I Am - BILL WITHERS (1971)
36. Heartbeats – YARBROUGH & PEOPLES (1983)

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