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. isley brothers 10.jpg 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!" emoticon             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
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

This entry was posted on Monday, February 18th, 2008 at 1:12 am and is filed under Classic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “ISLEY BROTHERS / “For The Love Of You””

Big E Says:
February 18th, 2008 at 9:35 am

I’ve always said that some of the best music is the stuff that doesn’t get played on the radio. I think you guys forgot that "Winner Takes All" double lp. One that sticks out is "How Lucky I Am".

          Mtume says:           

What’d you want us to do, E? Post the whole Winner Takes All album? We already have a Winner Takes All mini-suite in there with four consecutive songs: "Let’s Fall In Love," "You’re The Key To My Heart," "You’re Beside Me" and "Love Comes And Goes." Thinking about your comment and Jarvis’, the real problem is, the Isleys have way too many good slow jams. You can’t really try to make a list because something good is going to get left out.


Jarvis Says:
February 18th, 2008 at 10:38 am

How neither one of y’all ranked "Make Me Say It Again Girl" higher I’ll never know. That there’s the prettiest one. For the sheer poetry of it: "Oh, I believe you are a rainbow — all the heaven I need to see." And that’s the opening line!!

And don’t get me started on the end: "I am not worthy of love from an angel, princess imperial of my soul / Don’t really matter if you choose not to answer / hoping that what I reveal / you already know."

Now, ladies, how you gon’ NOT give a man some after that? Hunh?

          Mtume says:           

You know you’re right already, don’t you? I did my list too damned fast. "Make Me Say It Again Girl" has to be top three, at least. Probably, if you want to maintain any credibility among Isley Brothers slow jam fans, you’d have to do a Top Ten. Top Five just won’t cut it. "I believe you are a rainbow." That’s right up there with "I want to know what you’re like in bed," except a lot less risky. Good call, Jarvis.

Oh. And do notice Kalamu put it at #5. It definitely should be higher, but at least he didn’t forget it altogether like I did.

            Kalamu sez:           

my list was not in any particular order and certainly not by preference. my number eleven, "love comes and goes," is one of my all time favorite songs, regardless of genre, era or style.

the isley brothers are simply put the most successful male singing group of all time but they generally fly below our radar when we think of greatest groups. most people over forty would definitely say the temptations, as would probably many younger fans of the music but when we lay the tracks side by side over the years, the isleys are easily the best. nobody has as many beloved slow jamz. nobody.



Jarvis Says:
February 18th, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Mtume, in reference to the “I want to know what you’re like in bed” line, I think the lesson to be learned here is, a falsetto covers a multitude of foolishness. It would certainly be foolish for a brother with an ordinary voice to try pulling that line off, give that brother a heavenly falsetto and, well, he might have a shot. A woman once forced me to listen to the lyrics of “Hello, It’s Me.” I did, as if for the first time, and I was like, wait, he isn’t promising love, he isn’t promising devotion, he isn’t promising a damn thing. He just wants to get some every now and again and is telling the woman that she needs to be cool with that because, you know, “it’s important to me that you know you are free.” And lest we forget this gem of a line: “I’ll spend the night if you think I should.” That falsetto is like a super power, I tell you. A super power! Woe is he who with a mere mortal voice tries to tell a woman the things Ron Isley does. He may get more than his feelings hurt.

floodwatch Says:
February 19th, 2008 at 9:47 pm

For the record, I happen to LOVE “Footsteps in the Dark,” but where softer, pulsing, slow-jam tempos are concerned, it’s too upbeat for me to fall into that category. I feel the same way about “Between the Sheets” – great songs, but I wouldn’t consider them “slow jams.”

I second “Make Me Say It Again Girl” as well – that would probably be my #6.

Great post – it’s nice to see someone else’s take on the Isleys’ sexier material.

Ken Says:
February 22nd, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Y’all hit ’em all!

Mtume, how about “Let Me Down Easy” as a challenger for prettiest Isley slow jam?!



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