THE ISLEY BROTHERS: 3 plus 3, Go For Your Guns, Winner Takes It All, 2CDs (Label: SPV)

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THE ISLEY BROTHERS: 3 plus 3, Go For Your Guns, Winner Takes It All, 2CDs

SPV is a German label that’s recently embarked on an ambitious blues and soul reissue programme and these two releases are highpoints in the campaign so far. By anybody’s standards the Isleys were/are an iconic band and in their long and distinguished career 1973’s ‘3+3’ was a watershed. It was the album when the original family vocal trio became a sextet and its incendiary music took soul in new directions. It also widened the Isley’s fan base and in the re-worked ‘That Lady’, ‘Summer Breeze’ and ‘The Highways Of My Life’ the group created veritable and permanent soul anthems. But the album boasts much more than those well-known hits – notably an electrifying version of James Taylor’s ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight’. SPV have paired the original ‘3+3’ album with 1977’s ‘Go For Your Guns’ and, if anything, the Isley’s sound had by then become crisper and funkier – witness ‘The Pride’, ‘Tell Me When You Need It Again’, ‘Livin’ In The Life’ and ‘Go For Your Guns’. Isley aficionados, though, will tell you that the album’s peaks are Ronnie’s sublime vocals on ‘Voyage To Atlantis’ and ‘Footsteps In The Dark’. ‘Winner Takes It All’ was issued in 1979 and, of course, it was a double vinyl album, hence its stand alone status on this reissue. The LP is often neglected in Isley histories but it did spawn the life-affirming hit ‘It’s A Disco Night’ and any number of extended funk workouts. But the cuts that have travelled time best are the ballads like ‘Let’s Fall In Love’, ‘How Lucky I Am’, ‘You’re The Key To My Heart’, ‘You’re Beside Me’ and ‘Love Comes and Goes’. Few of those beauties ever appear on Isley compilations‚Ķ now’s the chance to hear them in their original setting. Allow them to remind you of the purity and true soul of Ronnie Isley’s voice.
(BB) 5/5

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