The Isley Brothers Story, Volume 2

Between the death of Jimi Hendrix and the arrival of Living Colour, no African-American band did more to refute racial stereotypes than the Isley Brothers. Beginning their long-running career in the late ’50s, singers Ronald, Rudolph, and O’Kelly Isley became one of the most exciting R&B groups of the ’60s; adding two brothers and a cousin, they rolled through the ’70s as a barrier-busting hit machine equally adept at soul, funk, rock, and pop. The monumental one-disc Volume 1 (1959-68) of Rhino’s two-volume retrospective includes such spirited originals as ”Shout,” plus borrowed songs (”Twist and Shout”) given the indelible Isley imprint. Two of the same years (1963-64) are covered by The Complete UA Sessions, which has almost no overlap with the Rhino collection and is less consistently riveting. Collectors will want it, however, for its vintage outtakes, rare tracks, and detailed discography. Rhino’s two-disc Volume 2 (1969-85) completes the Isley Brothers’ story, displaying the band’s versatility, from the horn-charged ”It’s Your Thing” to the passionate and harmony-laden ”Work to Do” to imaginative genre-crossing covers like ”Love the One You’re With.” Too many of the post-’75 tracks are slick-going-on-bland romantic mush, but the highlights prove the Isleys’ continued (if intermittent) creative vitality. B-

The Isley Brothers Story, Volume 2
  • Music