THE ISLEY BROTHERS

ALEX

THE ISLEY BROTHERS

Clad in jeans and a checkered shirt, Ron Isley is warming up at the mike at The Henry Fonda Theater in Los Angeles. It's a few hours before showtime: Ron's riffing and it's one of those trademark vocal runs that have been seducing women and setting guys up for the seduction for decades of baby-makin' music….

Fast forward and it's showtime. Ron, now fitted out in a pale mauve suit hits the stage before a rapturous audience. "Between The Sheets" is the perfect opener, Ron giving the crowd his smooth, soulful best while brother Ernie, looking ever mysteriously hip and cool he lays down those mean guitar licks. Midway through the set, he delivers the Isley baby-makin' classic "For The Love Of You": women call out, the fellas nod approval, everyone is singing along. Later in the show, Ron leaves the stage for a brief outfit change. His musical alter ego, "Mr. Biggs" returns in a bright red suit, gangster lean, hat to the side. It's on…

 

BABY MAKIN' MUSIC, , a natural title for a new album by The Isley Brothers featuring Ron Isley aka "Mr. Biggs" For, in the annals of contemporary music, few groups or artists can lay claim to creating as many slow jams and bedroom classics, classics that set the perfect right mood for romance leading to seduction, seduction leading to passion and, yes, in more than one instance, passion as a prelude to a rise in the birth rate! "Yes, we've been making baby-makin' music for quite a while," Ron grins with confidence, aware that his smooth-yet-soulful vocal style has brought pleasure to millions of music lovers for five decades now.

The Isleys' catalog, filled with funky grooves like "It's Your Thing," "Fight The Power" and "Take Me To The Next Phase" is also rich with eternal love songs like "In Between The Sheets," "For The Love Of You," "Summer Breeze," "Smooth Sailin' Tonight," "Voyage To Atlantis" and in more recent times, "Floatin' On Your Love," the 2001 pop/R&B smash "Contagious." And for good measure, there's Ron's now-firmly established musical character "Mr. Biggs" offering "Down Low (Nobody Has To Know)," the 1996 hit collaboration with R. Kelly, showing another side of love, the lyrical subject matter for more than a few Isley standards…

Now comes BABY MAKIN' MUSIC, the team's first CD for Def Soul, following in the tradition of great Isley Brothers' records, filled with new love odes, hit cuts and future classics. From the album's first single, the inviting, instantly memorable "Just Came Here To Chill" - a tune Ron says "sounds like vintage Isley Brothers" - written and produced by Troy Taylor (known for his work with Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston and Yolanda Adams among others) and Gordon Chambers (Grammy-award winning writer for Anita Baker and producer for Aretha Franklin, Brandy and others) to the insistent "Blast Off," a new duet between "Mr. Biggs" and R. Kelly, completed just weeks before the album's release, BABY MAKIN' MUSIC continues the Isleys' legacy without missing a beat.

The first Isleys Brothers' album since 2003's gold Body Kiss set and Ron's own 2003 solo album, Isley Meets Bacharach (a critically-acclaimed masterful collaboration with the legendary producer, songwriter, arranger and conductor), BABY MAKIN' MUSIC begins the group's incredible sixth decade in the music industry. "It's our sound with an updated twist, " Ron comments.

BABY MAKIN' MUSIC continues the unparalleled history of a group whose name has appeared on the charts for each of the last five decades, a feat achieved by no other family team in music history. The name "Isley" first graced the Top 50 in 1959 with "Shout," four years after the group was formed in Cincinatti, Ohio. The original recording lineup included Ronald and older brothers O'Kelly and Rudolph (a fourth brother, Vernon, died in the '50s).

The '60s began with another anthem, 1962's "Twist And Shout." The Isleys went on to score with "This Old Heart Of Mine" (1966, their first Tamla/Motown hit), and the massive, now classic "It's Your Thing." The R&B Grammy Award-winning #1 R&B/ #2 pop hit single launched their self-owned T-Neck label in 1969, and introduced younger brothers Ernie and Marvin and in-law Chris Jasper into the lineup. The label's first release, "Testify", featured Ernie Isley's protégé, a young man by the name of Jimi Hendrix.

T-Neck went on to chart more than 20 pop titles in the '70s (and nearly twice that many on the R&B side), a litany of hits that included Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With", "Spill The Wine" (originally recorded by Eric Burdon & War), "That Lady," Seals & Crofts' "Summer Breeze," the message-driven "Harvest For The World," funky groove "Fight The Power Part 1," classic slow jam "For the Love Of You," "The Pride," "Take Me To the Next Phase," and "I Wanna Be With You," among the group's many hit singles. From 1973 to 1980, the group scored an amazing two gold and five platinum albums (starting with the groundbreaking 3+3) and the platinum run continued in the '80s with Go All The Way and Between The Sheets, like five of their predecessors, No. 1 R&B chart-topping albums.

The '80s also included hit singles "Don't Say Goodnight (It's Time For Love)" and "Hurry Up And Wait," followed by "Inside You" and "Smooth Sailin' Tonight." In 1986, O'Kelly passed away, and Rudolph subsequently retired to the ministry.


But it was another Casey/Finch original, "Rock Your Baby," that R&B artist George McCrae scored a hit with in 1974 as KC & the Sunshine Band began issuing further albums and singles, quickly scoring big hits on their own. The group then began an impressive run of disco hits: 1977's "Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty)," "I'm Your Boogieman," "Keep It Comin' Love," "Boogie Shoes" (the latter included on the monster-selling soundtrack to the hit John Travolta disco movie, Saturday Night Fever), 1979's "Do You Wanna Go Party," and 1980's "Please Don't Go." Despite earning nine Grammy nominations (receiving three awards) and selling millions of records, KC & the Sunshine Band were still susceptible to the backlash that disco bands felt by the dawn of the '80s, eventually leading to dwindling sales and the group's split by the early '80s (although KC scored a moderate solo hit in 1983 with "Give It Up"). Come the '90s, an appreciation of everything '70s swept across the U.S., which led to a renewed interest bands from the era, prompting KC & the Sunshine Band to re-form for concert performances. That decade saw the release of countless KC "hits" collections and even an episode of VH1's popular Behind the Music series that studied the group's ups and downs

 

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