Tuesday, 17 January 2017

"Get Into Something" by THE ISLEY BROTHERS (June 1997 Epic Associated/Legacy 'Rhythm & Soul' CD Reissue - Tom Ruff Remaster) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...Say What You Wanna Say...
Let The Children Play Where They Wanna Play...
...That’s Freedom..."

Sandwiched between "The Brothers: Isley" in November 1969 and the stunning covers-album "Givin’ It Back" in September 1971 – Soul's elder-statesmen THE ISLEY BROTHERS saw their March 1970 album "Get Into Something" fail. Despite the seriously great music contained within – four relatively successful singles - and funky breaks that have made the album a huge collectable in the years ever since - "Get Into Something" failed to chart at the time of release - perhaps a product-overload for American punters.

This 1997 Remastered CD was part of Epic/Legacy's 'Rhythm & Soul Series' of CD Reissues in the late 90’s covering artists like Bill Withers, Cab Calloway, Big Maybelle, Aretha Franklin, The O'Jays, The Treniers, Major Lance and The Isley Brothers (to name but a few). It was then subsequently bundled with four other period LPs by The Isley Brothers into the "Original Album Classics" 5CD Mini Box set in 2008 – and again newly remastered for the amazing and all-encompassing 23CD Box Set "The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983)" issued in August 2015. For this review we're going to deal with the first 1997 Remaster – just the stand-alone album. Here is the inventory...

UK released June 1997 – "Get Into Something" by THE ISLEY BROTHERS on Epic Associated/Legacy 487514 2 (Barcode 5099748751423) is a straightforward CD Remaster of the 10-Track 1970 album on T-Neck Records and plays out as follows (39:46 minutes):

1. Get Into Something
2. Freedom
3. Take Inventory
4. Keep On Doin'
5. Girls Will Be Girls [Side 2]
6. I Need You So
7. If He Can You Can
8. I Got To Find Me One
9. Beautiful
10. Bless Your Heart
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Get Into Something" – released March 1970 in the USA on T-Neck TNS 3006 (reissued December 1970 with the same catalogue number) – no UK release. All tracks are originals.

The 12-page booklet has new liner notes from GEOFFREY HIMES called "You Picked The Right Time" - his explanations and obvious enthusiasm for this superb band pouring out of every factoid. There are some photos of Ronald, Kelly and Rudy - America's 'Soul Train' TV program - publicity photos as well as repros of those US T-Neck 45s. There are the usual reissue credits and a gorgeous CD transfer/master from TOM RUFF at Sony Studios in New York. Let's get to the music...

A Part One 3:51 minute edit of the 7:28 minute album cut for the opening title track "Get Into Something" was chosen as the album’s third 45 in September 1970 on T-Neck TN 924 (with Part II on the flipside). But despite its fantastic piano funk groove, brass interludes and ‘follow me’ pleading from Ronald Isley – it managed only No. 25 on the US R&B charts (No. 89 Pop). It fact the song and its cool groove became more famous after the event with samplers using that chicken scratch guitar and ‘gimme some drums’ break half way through on their Break Dance and Hip Hop mixes for years. Bloody shame no one at Legacy thought to put the separated edits on the end as Bonus Tracks.

It seems strange now to think that the obviously joyous "Freedom" was considered as the real winning single on the LP from the off – a message song with an irresistible hook more in keeping with the emerging feelings of the day (lyrics from it title this review). It was fourth single in December 1970 on T-Neck TN 927 and with Side 2’s "I Need You So" as the B-side – it rose to No. 16 on the R&B charts.  Both "Take Inventory" and the rapping "Keep On Doin’" are firmly in the manic Funk department – both snapping at James Brown’s heels over on Polydor. The dreadfully cloying "Girls Will Be Girls" is the first clunker – but even that managed a No. 22 placing on the American R&B chart when it was released in June 1970 on T-Neck TN 921 (credited as "Girls Will Be Girls, Boys Will Be Boys" with "Get Down Off The Train" from "The Brothers: Isley" album earlier in the year as the B-side).

Geoffrey Himes’ honest liner notes aren’t exactly kind to "I Need You So" – a little-too-pleading ballad drowned in strings – not the LP’s finest moment despite a sweet vocal from Ronald and equally tasty Vocal Group harmonies from the boys. Things improve immeasurably with the Guitar-Funk of "If He Can Do It" – a nasty little butt-shaking number you would imagine Jimi Hendrix would have flipped for. "Beautiful" tells us that its fab to talk to people and see birds in the sky – but the "It’s Your Thing" groove of "Bless Your Heart" that shines more – ending the album on a dancer’s high. They would go onto the magnificence of 1971's "Givin' It Back" - one of my all time fave-rave Soul albums - and one that’s entirely made up of reinterpreted cover version done in that fab Isley Brothers style.

"...If you want to get into something...come on and follow me..." - Ronald Isley sang on the title track 47-years ago. Time to answer that Funky call...

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