Saturday, September 30, 2023

The Albums of 1973: The Isley Brothers: 3+3


Release Date: August 7, 1973

Members: Ronald Isley (vocals); Ernie Isley (lead guitar); Marvin Isley (bass); O'Kelly Isley (vocals); Rudolph Isley (vocals); Chris Jasper (piano, synth)

Produced by Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley, O'Kelly Isley

Side One: That Lady; Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight; If You Were There; You Walk Your Way; Listen to the Music

Side Two: What it Comes Down To; Sunshine (Go Away Today); Summer Breeze; The Highways of My Life

The Isley Brothers had a remarkable run of records during the 1970s - and 3+3 was one of their best. Consisting of originals and memorable covers of pop hits, 3+3 is a standout from the crowded year of 1973.

The record opened with "That Lady," an update of their 1964 hit reimagined as 1970s funk. Jimi Hendrix had toured with the Isleys in the mid-1960s, Ernie Isley's guitar on this track took inspiration from Hendrix, earning the group a Top Ten hit. James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" is performed wonderfully as a quiet soul song. "If You Were There" is upbeat and melodic, "Walk Your Way" is gospel inspired. The Isely's took the Doobie Brother's hit "Listen to the Young Music", maintaining its festive spirit while incorporating a synth sound that builds to a memorable fadeout.

"What it Comes Down To" was another hit single highlighted by Chris Jasper's synthesizer. "Sunshine (Go Away Today) was hit for singer-songwriter Jonathan Edwards, a post-60s lament, the Isley's expanded on the notion with their moodier version. The Isley's had covered Seals & Croft's "Love the One You're With" a few years before, here the they took on "Summer Breeze", expanding the song to an epic six minutes, adding a note of unease accentuated by distorted guitars. A lovely piano intro opens "The Highways of My Life," an introspective track to close the record.

In its nine tracks 3+3 incorporated a variety of emotion and styles, the production left behind a timeless sound.

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