Sunday, August 25, 2013

40 Year Itch: Look Yeah But Don't Touch

For 3 + 3 the original Isley Brothers, Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly, made it official. The new generation of Isleys ( guitarist and younger brother Ernie, bass player and youngest brother Marvin, and cousin Chris Jasper on keyboards) who all played on 1971's Givin' It Back and 1972's Brother Brother Brother were now members of the band.  Witness the album cover. Witness the threads!

     The 3 +3 Formula = Big Success. Beginning with the release of the Top 10 gold single "That Lady", The Isley Brothers became one of the most consistently best selling acts of the 70's. A lot of that success belongs not just to the smooth vocalist Ronnie, but to their most enthusiastic new member: Ernie. Undaunted by having to fill the lead guitar role once occupied by Jimi Hendrix ( his wardrobe often brought Jimi to mind) , Ernie could play long searing guitar solos that drew the attention of gape-mouthed rock and roll audiences.

"I just love the guitar, " he told critic Robert Palmer who was writing for Penthouse. "The sound of it, the feel of it, the way it looks. I never know what I'm going to do when I play a solo, and, really, that's why I love rock and roll . It's free -- that's what makes it. You can't take one song or one form and define the style".

    While recording his monster solo on "That Lady", Ernie faced the corner of the studio room with his back to his brothers. He had no idea they were jumping for joy and giving each other high 5's. It's the equivalent of hitting a grand slam home run to win the World Series. Absolute brilliance!

  The album contained several  covers: "Summer Breeze", A Top 10 R and B hit; James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and Jonathan Edwards's "Sunshine (Go Away Today)". "What It Comes Down To" is another Top 10 R and B hit.

   On a personal note, this album takes me back to the sunny highways and beaches that surround Charleston, South Carolina. I did this on purpose. I stopped at a record store on the way to the city and picked up an album that would be my soundtrack for that long weekend. Something I would play every time I got in my car. Something I had never heard before. Now every time I play these wonderful songs I can see the faces of friends, the wild sea oats , the waves, horse drawn carriages and cobbled streets. It's better than taking photos.


  1. What a fantastic album
    I only just recently heard it in it's entirity and it blew me away!

    1. Totally agree! One of Top 10 for 1973