ISLEY BROTHERS / “For The Love Of You”
Slow Jamz. A category the Isley Brothers damn near invented, and if not invented, definitely dominated. For decades. Between the sixties and the year 2000, bunches of people came and went, making a high mark on the wall of love and then eventually giving way to newer trends, younger artists, changes in tastes and music production. But see them Isley Brothers, talk about staying power. Even when it’s just Ronald AKA “Mr. Biggs” and a drum machine! But right now, I’m talking baby-making music.
Certainly it was the vocal work (especially the falsetto leads by Ronald Isley) but it was also the arrangements, the thick rhythms and the edge in the music provided by Ernie’s guitar work. (You know, of course, that Jimi Hendrix did a stint with The Brothers before Jimi became known as Jimi.) It was also the songs themselves, whether covers or originals, they had some great music.
They did sweet with grit, like mad exhaustive sex.
You got the picture and if not, listen to the music, and if you still don’t get, Lord have mercy, you may never get it.
We start off with the quintessential “For The Love Of You” and conclude with the bittersweet, philosophical “Love Comes And Goes.” I would say those two are my favorites but then there’s “Hello It’s Me” and “Let’s Fall In Love.”
You have ears, choose your own favorite.
Classic slow jamz. The Isley Brothers. Enough said. Enjoy.
—Kalamu ya Salaam
My Top Five Due to a minor snafu, I'm writing this before hearing Kalamu's selections. Of course, I don't actually need to hear them. I seriously doubt that there will be any Isleys slow jams in the mix I don't already have. Coincidentally, another blog did a Top Five list of best Isleys slow jams. So before seeing all of Kalamu's selections, I'm going to list my top five, in descending order, and we'll see how things match up. 5. "(At Your Best) You Are Love" - From Harvest For The World (1976) This one was already a major jam before Aaliyah got a hold of it. Then that sweet-voiced young lady did her thing and it gave me a little extra appreciation for the original. Coming from Aaliyah, these lyrics seemed 100% sincere and gently persuasive. Coming from Ronald, and knowing that he's the king of the seductive slow jam, the lyrics play a little differently. I'm not saying he's running game, but.... Let's just say it occurs to me that he may have ulterior motives. But then, don't we all? 4. "For The Love Of You" (Parts 1 & 2) - From The Heat Is On (1975) "Drifting on a memory." This is the prettiest Isleys slow jam. I think the mid-tempo pace helps. Out of context, the other ones are slightly nasty. This one's just plain pretty. Plus, Ronald's vocals are exquisite. 3. "Summer Breeze" - From 3 + 3 (1973) Awww, shit! Now we're getting into it. I don't know if this one is even an intentional love song, it might just be about summer time or something, but this is definite seduction music. This isn't the type of record you put on when you're actually home and getting it on, this is more like riding around, getting in the mood music. And that guitar solo just ain't right. Ernie idolized Jimi. Obviously. I've probably been jamming off of this one since I was two years old. 2. Tie. "Voyage To Atlantis" - From Harvest For The World (1976) and "Don't Say Goodnight" - From Go All The Way (1980) Yes, I'm cheating. I was already into my list when I realized I just had to put six records in here. All you need to know about "Don't Say Goodnight" is two things. Number one, it's the slowest of all the slow jams the Isleys ever made. Number two, it includes the following immortal lyric: "I want to love you over and over and over again / I want to see, I want to see what you're like in bed." I want to see what you're like in bed? That's gangsta. I'm with it. (Does that line actually work?) Now let's talk about "Voyage To Atlantis." Could someone please tell me what the fuck this song is about? Ronald's calling his girl "misty lady" and talking about her "setting his spirit free," among all manner of other fancy foolishness. I'm pretty sure it all means, "I want to see what you're like in bed." Which is why I'm unofficially changing my mind and making "Voyage" number 2.5 and "Don't Say Goodnight" the actual number two. Dude actually said, "I want to see what you're like in bed." That's ridiculous. 1. "Footsteps In The Dark" (Parts 1 & 2) - From Go For Your Guns (1977) Now, look. I'm not trying to knock my man over at floodwatch. He beat us to the punch with the Isleys slow jam post by almost two months. I'm just saying though, how do you not put "Footsteps In The Dark" on your list? And I repeat, how do you not put "Footsteps In The Dark" on your list? I'm willing to live with it if it's not your number one. (I don't understand it, but I'll live with it.) But to not even put it on the list at all? Man, come on. "Footsteps In The Dark" is probably an all-time Top Five slow jam record, PERIOD. By anybody! Damn. —Mtume ya Salaam P.S. And now I find out that Kalamu's not including "Footsteps In The Dark" either?! What the hell is wrong with you people? It must be a generational thing. I guess the old people don't realize "Footsteps In The Dark" is the shit. Oh well. "I keep hearing footsteps, baby. In the daaaaark. In the daaaaaark!" Miles vs. Trane All Over Again By which I mean there are two schools, two approaches, even when we're into slow jamz from the same artist. Mtume, I make no argument for my list over your list. Rather I see it as a testament to the greatness of The Isley Brothers and the breadth of their catalogue that I could pick eleven favorite tracks (in no particular order) and you could pick six and only one track ("For The Love Of You") makes both lists. And wouldn't you know it, that one track is my feature although it's your number six. What a wonderful dilemma! My 11 are: 1. "For The Love Of You" 2. "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" 3. "Between The Sheets" 4. "Hello It's Me" 5. "Make Me Say It Again" 6. "Groove With You" 7. "Sensuality" 8. "Le's Fall In Love" 9. "You're The Key To My Heart" 10. "You're Beside Me" 11. "Love Comes And Goes" Word to the wise: Instead of trying to track down all of these cuts individually, get Beautiful Ballads and Beautiful Ballads - Vol. 2. If you get those two albums you'll have most of these classics. Peace out. —Kalamu ya Salaam
Crazy Damn, I forgot about "You're Beside Me." That one gives "For The Love Of You" a run for prettiest Isleys slow jam. These dudes are ridiculous. They're responsible for a legitimate two hours of quality slow jam material. I don't think there's any other single recording artist (not even Prince, who has a motherlode of 'em) who can compete with that. Crazy. —Mtume ya Salaam
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