Givin' It Back The Isley Brothers

Album info

Album-Release:
1971

HRA-Release:
21.08.2015

Label: Epic / Legacy

Genre: R&B

Subgenre: Soul

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Ohio / Machine Gun09:12
  • 2Fire and Rain05:28
  • 3Lay Lady Lay10:21
  • 4Spill the Wine06:31
  • 5Nothing to Do But Today03:38
  • 6Cold Bologna02:58
  • 7Love the One You're With03:39
  • 8Warpath02:32
  • 9Spill the Wine02:43
  • 10Love the One You're With03:30
  • 11Lay Lady Lay03:57
  • Total Runtime54:29

Info for Givin' It Back

A very weird, but very beautiful album by the Isleys – one in which they move into a folksy rock groove, and play acoustic guitars in long spiraling soulful versions of some of their favorite rock hits! The sound's a bit like Terry Callier or Bill Withers, but it's also still got that sexy Isley groove to it – and although the cuts aren't all out funky, there's definitely a lot of funk in the way that they're set up! We love the complexity of the Isleys at this point – really willing to take a chance like this, with results that come out beautifully. Titles include a great version of 'Love The One You're With', plus 'Machine Gun', 'Ohio', 'Spill The Wine', and 'Lay Lady Lay'.

„Givin' It Back is as much a time capsule as an album. Not that it can't be enjoyed on its own absolute musical terms by someone just off a boat who wasn't even around in 1971, but to really appreciate how daring it was and how delightful it is, that side of its history should be known. Those who are old enough should recall the time whence it came, an era in which hatred and disunity over the Vietnam War, civil rights, school desegregation, the environment, and a multitude of other issues were threatening what seemed, potentially, like the beginning of a new civil war, this one not between states but between factions and ethnic and racial groups in 1,000 individual neighborhoods. The opening cut of Givin' It Back, 'Ohio/Machine Gun,' is a slap-in-your-face reminder of just how angry the times and the people were. The track evokes instant memories of the campus bloodshed of 1970, not just at Kent State but also the often-forgotten killings a few days later at Jackson State University in Mississippi, where the victims of a fusillade of sheriff's deputies' bullets were black students. More than that, the track itself is also a reminder of the divisions that existed on the left; to listen to pundits on the right, the anti-war and civil rights movements, along with the counterculture, were all part of one vast, organized, calculated left-wing conspiracy. The truth is that there was nearly as big a split, culturally and politically, between young blacks and young whites on the left and on college campuses as there was anywhere else in the population. Blacks reacting to years of oppression had little use for mostly middle-class white college students, however sympathetic many of them purported to be to their situation, while well-meaning white students and activists couldn't begin to know what privation of the kind experienced by blacks and Hispanics in most American towns and cities was. In music, too, there was a lot of division; blacks usually didn't resonate to the top artists in the white world and, in particular, were oblivious to (and even resentful of) the adoration accorded Jimi Hendrix by the white community. So, when the Isley Brothers -- whose appeal among black audiences was unimpeachable -- opened Givin' It Back with a conflation of Neil Young's 'Ohio' and Jimi Hendrix's 'Machine Gun,' they were speaking to anger and bloodshed in the streets, but they were also performing an act of outreach that was about as radical as any they could have committed on record in 1971. That they incorporated a prayer into their reformulation of the two songs, amid Ernie Isley's and Chester Woodard's guitar pyrotechnics, turned it into one of the most powerful and personal musical statements of its era, and it's worth the price of the album just for the one cut. Givin' It Back is filled with virtues of that kind, however; it was the first Isley Brothers album to rely entirely on outside material, but the group's reworkings of songs by James Taylor ('Fire and Rain') and Stephen Stills ('Love the One You're With') show no lack of originality. They're unafraid to take the song apart and rebuild it from the ground up, smoothing Bob Dylan's 'Lay Lady Lay' into a sensual soul ballad, turning the James Taylor number into a sweaty, earnest shouter, and transforming War's 'Spill the Wine' into an extended workout for voices, electric guitars (several layers deep), flute, and percussion. The album was also an early showcase for Bill Withers, whose funky blues 'Cold Bologna' is covered by the group with the composer -- who was about to emerge as a major star in his own right -- on guitar. And the closer, 'Love the One You're With,' is sent soaring to heights that the Stephen Stills original could only gaze up at. Givin' It Back is often held at arm's length by soul listeners, who don't regard it as central to what the Isley Brothers or their music are about; on the contrary, the group is so successful at remaking all of the songs here their own in style and approach and sending careful messages (alas, largely lost with the passage of time) in their selection as well as their content, that it really represents a lot of what the Isley Brothers and soul music were about in 1971, and it's still great listening.“ (Bruce Eder, AMG)

Ronald Isley, lead and background vocals
O'Kelly Isley, Jr., background vocals
Rudolph Isley, background vocals
Ernie Isley, guitar, drums
Marvin Isley, bass
Chris Jasper, piano, keyboards
Chester Woodard, guitar
John Mosley, flute
Gary Jones, congas
Buck Clarke, congas
Bill Withers, guitar

Recorded 1971 at Media Sound, New York, New York
Produced by Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley

Digitally remastered


The Isley Brothers
Born and raised in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, The Isley Brothers--O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley, Ronald Isley and a fourth brother, Vernon Isley (who died a couple of years after their first incarnation)--began performing as a gospel-based vocal group in 1954. Moving to the New York City area in the late 1950s, The Isley Brothers scored some modest regional chart successes before their fourth single (and first for RCA Victor), "Shout"--written by O'Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald--catapulted them into the pantheon of pop immortality in 1959. One of the most immediately identifiable and infectious party anthems ever written or recorded, The Isley Brothers "Shout"--with its irresistible call-and-response structure--combined gospel heat and doo-wop soul with a high-powered rock 'n' roll energy. The much-covered "Shout" was inducted into the Grammy® Hall of Fame in 1999 and placed No. 118 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The Isleys followed up "Shout" with a variety of tracks (including their Top 20 single, "Twist & Shout," a song later famously covered by The Beatles).

Perhaps the most musically adventurous vocal ensemble in American pop history, The Isley Brothers were adding rock, funk, R&B, soul and ballad elements into the gospel and doo-wop music at the foundation of their sound.

In the 1960s, while The Isley Brothers bounced between various labels (including Atlantic, United Artists and Motown), they briefly employed a then-unknown Jimi Hendrix (aka Jimmy James) as their lead guitarist, buying him a white Fender Stratocaster guitar and moving him into the Isley home. Though Jimi's stint with the Isley Brothers was brief, his musical sensibilities remained in the group, with younger brother Ernie Isley carrying the fiery experimental rock 'n' soul guitar sound they shared into the Isley Brothers future.

Tired of labels that didn't fully understand or support their R&B/rock fusion musical vision, The Isley Brothers launched their independent T-Neck imprint with distribution through Buddah Records. At T-Neck, the Isleys finally enjoyed the freedom to make music the way they wanted, recording and producing their own material as well as assisting in the distribution and promotion process. The T-Neck label's lead single, the irresistible Grammy Award®-winning funk hit "It's Your Thing," instantly established the band and label as a commercial powerhouse, its lyric a mantra for the trail The Isley Brothers would blaze in the next decade.

The Isleys' ever-expanding musical repertoire in the 1970s included funky covers of pop/rock favorites ("Love The One You're With," "Lay, Lady, Lay") that helped spread these songs through urban markets. The group would hit a new peak with the album 3+3 and single "That Lady" in 1973.

They added younger brothers Ernie Isley (lead guitar, drums) and Marvin Isley (bass guitar) and Rudolph's brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards, synthesizers) into the mix, turning The Isley Brothers vocal trio into a self-contained pop/rock/R&B/funk ensemble, writing, producing, performing, arranging, distributing their own works on T-Neck Records throughout the 1970s into the early 1980s.

With Ernie, Chris and Marvin leading the way creatively, the group pushed the barriers of soul music, bringing funk and laid-back quiet storm into the mainstream and earning the band three gold and seven platinum or multi-platinum albums--including 3+3 (1973), the #1 chart-topping The Heat Is On (1975) and 1983's Between The Sheets--and 14 Top 10 R&B albums (seven of which hit No. 1). In the world of R&B, only Parliament-Funkadelic and Earth, Wind & Fire have achieved success rivaling the Isley Brothers.

The Isley Brothers have had 19 Top 10 singles (7 of those at #1) in the US Billboard R&B chart, with 16 Isley albums hitting the Top 40. 13 of their albums have achieved RIAA gold, platinum or multi-platinum status. The Isley Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. They got their star on the Hollywood Rockwalk in 1997 and were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Isley Brothers, through an unprecedented seven decades, have remained one of the most consistently successful groups of all time. The Isleys were present at the birth of rock and roll, their biggest hits have influenced R&B, rock and roll and funk music from the 1950s onward while their deep grooves helped form the rhythmic backbone of hip-hop, a sound the Isleys would embrace in the 1990s and 2000s.

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