The Isley Brothers – 1969 – It’s Our Thing & The Brothers: Isley

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The Brothers put their newfound autonomy to hard socking, gospelfide, funk-filled use on their first T-Neck album ‘It’s Our Thing’. Built around the riveting, peerless “It’s Your Thing”, this LP consists of more super sweaty funk workouts, some downhome soul wailing and a few achingly beautiful slow ditties. 

A powerful, rough, funky album that spells out Soul.

Tracks
A1 It’s Our Thing 2:47
A2 I Know Who You Been Socking It To 2:42
A3 Save Me 3:30
A4 I Turned You On 2:34
A5 I Got To Get Myself Together 3:31
A6 Holding On 2:32
B1 Girls Will Be Girls, Boys Will Be Boys 2:38
B2 Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out 2:55
B3 Black Berries 5:47
B4 Was It Good To You 2:40
B5 Bless Your Heart 2:52
B6 If He Can, You Can 3:08

Bonus

Highlights From “It’s Your Thing” Box Set

The group’s signature hit “It’s Your Thing” has remained popular for over forty years. What has been largely forgotten are the other worthwhile tunes that make the entire album worth hearing. The album’s title carries a touch of irony, as “their thing” was clearly an amalgam of the styles of other pioneering artists of the day. But that doesn’t make the music any less enjoyable.

The ten tracks were all original collaborations by Ronald, Rudolph, and O’Kelly Isley. Following several years as part of the Motown machine, the Isleys had emerged with a new sound. Their approach was heavily influenced by the funk of James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone. With the exception of a few ballads, the music on It’s Our Thing is all about thick grooves with elastic bass lines and percussive horn accents. Ronald Isley’s voice is perhaps the most underrated of his generation, and he’s in fine form throughout.

The Godfather of Soul himself was listening closely. After “It’s Your Thing” became a massive hit, James Brown fired back with “It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who To Sock It To),” which he wrote and produced for Marva Whitney. The similarities were strong enough that Brown was forced to share writing credits for “It’s My Thing” with the Isleys. The James Brown influence was strong throughout, with “Give the Women What They Want” coming off like a cross between “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “Cold Sweat.” But the playing and singing are strong enough to allow the music to stands on its own.

The album’s lead-off track, “I Know Who You Been Socking It To” is another highlight, a boisterous jam that rivals the better known “It’s Your Thing.” Of the ballads, “Feel Like the World” burns brightest, with searing lead vocal. The other ballads are a bit generic, typical for the genre at that time.

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A stone cold funk album that forever changed the face of soul music – a bold shift in styles by the Isley Brothers at the end of the 60s, really setting the scene for their megafame of the next decade! The album’s a follow up to the landmark It’s Your Thing set – and it starts in the same space as that one, but goes arguably even deeper and harder in its groove – hitting a raw, sharp-edged approach to funk that’s totally sinister – easily as great as anything coming out of the funky 45 underground, and a really strong message to the mainstream that these older hitmakers were ripe and ready for a deeper funk mode. The record doesn’t have any of the hits of its predecessor – making it an even bigger treasure trove of under-discovered gems – great little tunes that are heavy on the drums, filled with rumbling bass, and cut with plenty of sharp-edged guitar.

Tracks
A1 I Turned You On 2:34
A2 Vacuum Cleaner 2:50
A3 I Got To Get Myself Together 3:31
A4 Was It Good To You? 2:40
A5 The Blacker The Berrie 5:50
B1 My Little Girl 3:38
B2 Get Down Off Of The Train 3:11
B3 Holding On 2:32
B4 Feels Like The World 3:21

Bonus

The Isleys Live 1973, one of the finest funk/soul live albums ever recorded.

Review by Andre S. Grindle

Don’t kid yourself.Your just not going to be able to listen to this album in any setting and not feel joy.It’s obvious the Isley’s are in a positive state of mind at this point.There smash hit intro into the wonderful world of funk It’s Your Thing. On this their second album in that style,from later the same year really gets you to understand how,while it’s clear the Isley’s influenced Jimi Hendrix while he backed them up earlier that considering his newfound stardom that it worked both was. 1969 represented year one of the psychedelic soul movement and along with the Temps,The Chambers Brothers,Isaac Hayes,Santana and yes Hendrix it was clear the Isley’s were heeding the call.And the best part is they were INNOVATIVE too. The slower,more rhythm directed funk styles of James Brown were also heavy in the mix along with the rock and Stax influence.From the deep,punchy sweat of “I Turned You On“,”Vacuum Cleaner” and “Was It Good To You” it was clear the Isley’s were part of a movement laying the ground work for the “united funk” explosion several years later.Another important factor for that is a sense of positivity that comes from achievment and drive rather than want and need.You can do no better at that sort of thing than “Black Berries” where Ron narrates a metaphoric tale about his brothers berry picking preferences.It really brings to mind the age old blues and R&B tradition of story telling and fables within the black community that spoke directly of experiences within the culture.And from which there was an implicit lesson to be learned. In this case,it happens to be about breaking into music.On “I Got To Get Myself Together” and “Feels Like The World” you have the two slower cuts on the album.Both have a place in the 60’s soul style but that pychedelic element in both of them almost creates a futurist kind of mentality. Sure it’s very much a 60’s type of attitude but with these brothers you know it’s always honest and from a very learned possition. “My Little Girl“,”Get Down Off The Train” and “Holding On” are the more poppy numbers,in the context that they have those strong melodic pop hooks. Still there’s not point in spoiling this album for new listeners too much-probably already have here. This is very musically and personally meaningful and is almost so funky you can barely take it!So it’s more than worth going on this trip with The Brothers:Isley.

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19 Comments
  • Chopsy
    Posted at 18:09h, 17 August 2011 Reply

    Awesome records from a severely under appreciated band!
    Thanks for posting!

  • jose m.m.
    Posted at 19:28h, 17 August 2011 Reply

    absolute funk

  • Ryan
    Posted at 19:30h, 17 August 2011 Reply

    Thanks!

  • Nuno
    Posted at 22:34h, 17 August 2011 Reply

    Great post

  • austinnate
    Posted at 02:08h, 18 August 2011 Reply

    another great post!
    Thanks

  • dim
    Posted at 08:35h, 18 August 2011 Reply

    🙁 dead links

  • FunkallyouH
    Posted at 01:47h, 21 August 2011 Reply

    Not before my time, but dam sure going to listen to it. Every time I listen to these…. it just takes me back to a time when things was calmer, Real music was made. Music you could understand. Yeah.. Real bands that was true to it, and not new to it. Yeah Isley’s are definitely on top of the game. Love’em!

  • Brotherpete
    Posted at 10:30h, 21 August 2011 Reply

    Thank you you you !!!

  • myr
    Posted at 11:41h, 21 August 2011 Reply

    One of the best!!!! Thank’s!

  • L.mAN
    Posted at 10:51h, 22 August 2011 Reply

    Great ones. Top top group. For sure up their with the Temps and Four Tops. Amazing musicians and discography. I also adore most of their 70’s albums and singles. It’s my decade of discovering music.

  • Len
    Posted at 08:46h, 23 August 2011 Reply

    Always a pleasure to listen to this amazing group. Keep on sharing the gems man.

  • Wopjames
    Posted at 00:27h, 24 August 2011 Reply

    Wow! This site is amazing!! Keep up the good work!!

  • Felix
    Posted at 08:56h, 24 August 2011 Reply

    The funk power for so many decades.

  • Welovefunkymusic
    Posted at 22:47h, 12 November 2011 Reply

    "It's our thing" is still a hit and one of the best jams love it!

  • Retro
    Posted at 13:34h, 14 November 2011 Reply

    DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! THIS SHIT JUST SOOTHE THE SOUL!!

  • John
    Posted at 02:40h, 03 January 2012 Reply

    I remember standing dumbstruck in the warehouse of the record company I worked for in the late 60’s as I watched the Isley Brothers being ushered around on a tour of the building. We distributed the TeaNeck label along with the Stones and many other heavy hitters of the 60’s.
    .
    I distinctly remember the brothers wearing outfits exactly like those on the cover of ‘It’s Your Thing’.
    .
    Great picks. Thanks for resurrecting the early Isley Brothers albums I grew up with.
    .
    Much respect you and your most excellent blog.
    .
    John (Chicago)

  • Rowdy Shadehouse
    Posted at 03:05h, 08 March 2012 Reply

    LOVE the Isley Brothers funk music. Truly a gem!

  • thegroove
    Posted at 16:24h, 25 November 2013 Reply

    Thanks for the bonus live set. And for everything else too.

  • Faab
    Posted at 23:51h, 07 June 2015 Reply

    Wov, Isley Brothers in Early Years, meanwhile, there were a lot of Hits so early, fantastic Funky Heavy Band.Thanks!!

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