Review Live!

The Isley Brothers

... read moreThere's no performance date listed for this double-length CD, recorded by Ronald, Ernie, and Marvin Isley sometime after the 1991 reactivation of the group and released on Elektra Records (hardly a label known for its soul catalog, which may explain the album's relative obscurity). The spirits are...

There's no performance date listed for this double-length CD, recorded by Ronald, Ernie, and Marvin Isley sometime after the 1991 reactivation of the group and released on Elektra Records (hardly a label known for its soul catalog, which may explain the album's relative obscurity). The spirits are high and the mood is festive as the group, backed by a sextet and the Perri Sisters augmenting the vocals, runs through a wide swathe of its history from 1959 through the 1980s. Using the 1970s-vintage "Here We Go Again" as a jumping-off point, the group ranges freely across sounds and styles, and the crowd responds equally well to obvious (fairly) recent hits such as "Between the Sheets" and to their periodic leaps backward, to songs such as "It's Your Thing" and "Shout." The whole album has a warmly nostalgic tone to it, coupled with state-of-the-art recording. Indeed, one is tempted to praise the fidelity of these recordings -- and every voice and instrument has a strong presence -- but for the fact that, as with most post-1960s concert recordings, there does seem to have been considerable sweetening and editing performed to get it to this level. Still, the excitement and immediacy are there, and this is a very good (and oft-overlooked) document of the Isleys' sound. ~ Bruce Eder