Ultimate Isley Brothers

by: The Isley Brothers

In effect, The Ultimate Isley Brothers is the definitive single-disc compilation of the Isleys' T-Neck years -- when they reinvented themselves for the '70s as a jam-happy funk-rock outfit. Still, there are a few extras -- the Isley/Jasper/Isley hit "Caravan of Love," which fits this material pretty well, and the old-school Isley classics "Shout, Pts. 1-2" and "Twist and Shout," which don't. Yes, it's nice to have this all on one disc, but the latter two hits are just sort of tossed into the middle of the track listing (and if you're going to license those, why leave off the group's other absolutely necessary early single, the Motown hit "This Old Heart of Mine"?). That flaw aside, though, the focus of the collection is really on the group's terrific funk phase; it's clear by the end of the disc that the Isleys were equally capable of delivering smoking funk workouts, socially conscious anthems, and slick, romantic ballads. It's the best introduction to the group that's currently available, and its consistently high-quality material demonstrates why they've been able to sustain a career for so long. ~ Steve Huey

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