Tag Archives: Isley Brothers

The 6-pack: Happy anniversary to us

When the last week of February rolls around, it’s time to celebrate at AM, Then FM. It dropped into the blogosphere six years ago this week, way back in 2007.

For the six of you who have remained regular readers all this time, thank you.

There are more than six of you, of course, but the glory days of music blogs seem to have come and gone.

Oliver Wang wrote about that the other day over at Soul Sides in response to a reader’s question. “Blogs … peaked in saturation about five years ago and have been on the wane since then.” It’s a drag to go through the bookmarks and see the blogs that have gone dark, especially in the last year or so.

However, a few of us keep on keepin’ on.

So we celebrate the beginning of our sixth year with a six-pack. Six songs by six artists from their sixth studio LP. The songs had to come from my records, and they had to be vinyl rips.


“Soolaimon,” Neil Diamond, from “Tap Root Manuscript,” 1970.

One of the first LPs I ever had. Also my introduction to world music. Also for my friend Glick, who has been digging music with me for 40 years.


“Molina,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, from “Pendulum,” 1970.

I once really dug the “Green River” and “Cosmo’s Factory” LPs. “Pendulum” not so much, but this is a good song. I like the sax. Creedence was one of my faves when I was in my teens and 20s, but I’ve found them almost unlistenable since John Fogerty released “Centerfield” in the mid-’80s. I didn’t like that record and it somehow soured me on Creedence.


“Back Stabbers,” the O’Jays, from “Back Stabbers,” 1972.

Those of us of a certain age are blessed to have grown up in a time when you heard elegant soul like this on the radio.


“I’ll Be Coming Home,” the J. Geils Band, from “Nightmares … And Other Tales From The Vinyl Jungle,” 1974.

Not long after starting this blog, I wrote a Complete Idiot’s Guide to the J. Geils Band for the blog that eventually became Popdose. I’m qualified because I have all 14 J. Geils Band LPs. Idiot completist. As I listened to all 14, this struck me as one of their best records. I almost picked “Gettin’ Out,” a keyboard-driven rave-up with a bunch of showy solos, but went instead with this slow groover. It has sort of a Latin beat and features Jay Geils on mandolin and Seth Justman on piano and that slinky organ.


“Theme From ‘Enter The Dragon’,” Dennis Coffey, from “Instant Coffey,” 1974. (The LP out of print but the song is available digitally.)

Detroit guitar legend Dennis Coffey is one of the artists I’ve rediscovered since starting this blog. I have a bunch of his records now.


“The Blacker The Berrie,” the Isley Brothers, from “The Brothers: Isley,” 1969. (The LP is out of print. The song isn’t available digitally that I can find.)

Likewise the Isleys, who I somehow knew almost nothing about before starting AM, Then FM. I have a bunch of their records now, too. This cut also is known as “Black Berries.”

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.


Filed under February 2013, Sounds

Red, white and blue revisited

As we did last year, we’re dishing up some music for your Fourth of July party.

We have some red, some white, some blue, the makings for a fine gathering. However, you still won’t find any Greenwood, if you know what I mean.


You’ll need a little something to eat and a little something to wash it down.

“Red Beans,” Marcia Ball, from “Blue House,” 1994.

“Red Red Wine,” Neil Diamond, 1967, from “Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits,” 1968. That’s long out of print, but the song is on “Neil Diamond: The Bang Years, 1966-1968,” released earlier this year.


Then you’ll need to chill.

“Ice Cream Man” and “Back Porch Therapy,” Tony Joe White, from “The Heroines,” 2004. It’s out of print but is available digitally.


Before enjoying a nightcap or two.

“Martini 5-0,” the Blue Hawaiians, from “Sway,” 1998. It’s out of print and apparently not available digitally.

“A Shot of Rhythm and Blues,” Dave Edmunds, from “Subtle As A Flying Mallet,” 1975. Also out of print and not available digitally.

Speaking of shots …

As you the blow the fireworks, be sure to …

“Pop That Thang,” the Isley Brothers, from “Brother, Brother, Brother,” 1972.

And as you reflect on it all …

“People Got To Be Free,” Dionne Warwick, from “Soulful,” 1969. Available on “Soulful Plus,” a 2004 limited-edition release from Rhino Handmade, and digitally.

Yes, people still got to be free, even today.


Filed under July 2011, Sounds

Echoes on a plane

We were on the plane to Savannah last week. It was the first trip for the iPod.

Having cranked up the volume to drown out the engine noise, it was an opportunity to listen to songs more closely than you typically would. It brought one of those revelations you get when you have that kind of an opportunity.

This song came along in the shuffle play.

“He’s Got Your Love,” the Isley Brothers, from “It’s Your Thing,” 1969.

The Isleys’ lyrics go …

“What has he got that I haven’t got/He’s got you, baby/He’s got you, baby”

Now hold on. There’s another song that goes like that. You may remember it.

“What’s He Got,” the Producers, from “The Producers,” 1981. It’s out of print and apparently not available digitally, either.

It’s not a cover, and the music is power pop rather than soul, but this Atlanta group covered much the same ground.

“What’s he got that I ain’t got/He’s got you/That’s what he’s got/That’s what he’s got”

I vividly remember this from the early days of MTV, but was surprised to learn it did nothing in the charts.

The Producers were such MTV faves — “Certain Kind Of Girl” and “She Sheila” also were popular videos — that they headlined the network’s second New Year’s Rockin’ Eve at Radio City Music Hall in New York as 1981 turned to 1982.

Lead singer Kyle Henderson, it turns out, has lived just down the road in Madison, Wisconsin, for the past four years. He’s an editor at the University of Wisconsin and teaches at a junior college.

He also leads a group called Kyle Henderson’s Blue Eyed Soul. They do soul and blues covers and originals. And, yes, “What’s He Got” is on their song list.

However, “He’s Got Your Love” is not.

I like ’em both. Might be interesting to put them back to back.


Filed under April 2011, Sounds

Witness to history

History is being made in Wisconsin this week.

No matter where you are, you’ve likely seen it on the news. Tens of thousands of protesters — public employees, teachers and union workers — have been filling the state Capitol in Madison and its grounds as they fight the Republican governor’s proposal to strip them of collective bargaining rights.

The story has taken one astonishing turn after another.

On Tuesday, it was simply that 13,000 people showed up to protest on a weekday. On Wednesday, the legislative hearing on the bill went until 3 in the morning. And the protesters kept coming. On Thursday, 14 Democratic senators fled the state to block a vote on the bill. On Friday, so many teachers were protesting that some districts canceled classes.

On Saturday, 60,000 people came to the Capitol Square, representing both sides of the debate. An estimated 500 police officers were on hand. Welcome to Madison. The protests were spirited and loud but peaceful all week, with only a handful of arrests for disorderly conduct. It stayed that way Saturday, when the governor’s opponents still far outnumbered the governor’s supporters.

We’ve not seen anything like this in Wisconsin since the Vietnam War protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It’s a story of such magnitude that the Green Bay Packers’ victory in Super Bowl XLV just two weeks ago — also a big story in Wisconsin — has been shoved far into the background, rendered almost an afterthought.

Here’s a look at the protests, set to the music of “14 Senators,” a song written Friday morning by Madison folk singer Ken Lonnquist and performed live on the radio less than an hour later.

And some timeless music perhaps appropriate for the moment.

“We The People,” Allen Toussaint, from Bell single 782, 1969. Available on “What Is Success: The Scepter and Bell Recordings,” a 2007 import CD.

“Eyes On The Prize,” Mavis Staples, from “We’ll Never Turn Back,” 2007.

“World In Motion,” Pops Staples with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, from “Peace to the Neigbhorhood,” 1992. It’s out of print but is available digitally.

“(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People,” the Chi-Lites, from “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People,” 1971. The LP is out of print but the song is available digitally.

“Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today),” the Temptations, from “Greatest Hits II,” 1970. The LP is out of print, but the song is available digitally.

“Fight The Power (Part 1 & 2),” the Isley Brothers, from “The Heat Is On,” 1975. The LP is out of print but the song is available digitally.


Filed under February 2011, Sounds

Another day in the life

Thanks for sticking with AM, Then FM as real life, of late, has kept me from listening to tunes, writing about them and sharing them as much as any of us would like.

You go through life, and it takes on certain rhythms. But not this year.

This year. for example, will be the first time in 12 years that we won’t be in Duluth, Minnesota, on an early September weekend. The NorthShore Inline Marathon and my high school class reunion fall on the same weekend. I’ll always choose the latter over the former. Yet the marathon has, for a dozen years, defined my spring and summer workouts and been our favorite fall vacation. Not quite sure what will replace it.

For 30 years, May has been the time to start playing softball. I’m back out there at first base. But even though I worked out during the winter to prepare for it, I increasingly have a sense that I’m closer to the end of that than I would like. Just not feeling it.

If you’re a regular visitor, you know my dad, who turns 85 in a month, is no longer driving. We go out most mornings, stopping most often at the convenience store for lottery tickets and then the grocery store. Still haven’t settled into a rhythm on that, either.

So today, when my brother calls to say he’s quit his job of 20 years and is looking for a new gig, his news becomes just another wave to ride. A wave created by a boulder tossed into the pond instead of a pebble.

The point of all this is not woe is me, woe are we. Please, no. This is nothing compared to what some other families face every day.

Rather, it’s simply that at a time when the only certainty seems to be uncertainty, the music is still there. As it was today, after I’d heard my brother’s news, after I’d driven Dad on his rounds.

There, on the soul station on the satellite radio in the car, completely and delightfully at random, was a song that absolutely made my day. Perhaps it will make yours.

Sock it to me!

“I Turned You On,” the Isley Brothers, from “The Brothers: Isley,” 1969. It’s out of print. This tune is available on “The Essential Isley Brothers,” a 2004 greatest-hits compilation.

Turns out, in 1969, the Isleys were another family going through a year when the only certainty was uncertainty. After a decade on four different labels, they’d charted a new course,  going from Tamla (part of the Motown empire) to their own T-Neck label.

“The Brothers: Isley” was the second of two albums released that year by the Isleys. The first, “It’s Our Thing,” had the hit single “It’s Your Thing” on it, and both did pretty well in the charts. This LP was less successful, but “I Turned You On” also did well in the charts.


Filed under May 2010, Sounds

Sorry, no resemblance


This is what I found on the inner sleeve when I pulled tonight’s record from its jacket. I’m digging that little bit of art almost as much as the record it came with.

Almost. I’ll still give the slight edge to another early Isley Brothers album found in the dollar bins in my friend Jim’s back yard yesterday.

“Brother, Brother, Brother,” released in 1972, was a pivotal album for the Isley Brothers.

It was the last time they’d offer pleasure via the Buddah Group, at least on a studio album. After “Brother, Brother, Brother” came out, they dropped a live album to fulfill their contract, then took their T-Neck label over to Epic Records.

It also was the last album for the Isley Brothers as a trio. Guitarist Ernie Isley, bass player Marvin Isley and keyboard player Chris Jasper — all barely past 20 — were emerging as full-fledged members of the group. They were in their teens when they started backing the original vocal trio of Ronald, O’Kelly and Rudolph Isley in 1969. It wasn’t long before the six-member group became a soul and funk force.

Yet on “Brother, Brother, Brother,” the Isleys stayed with a strategy that served them well at mid-career. They mixed soul and funk originals — the hits “Work To Do” and “Pop That Thang” are on this one — with pop covers given the distinctive Isley sound.

On their previous album, 1971’s “Givin’ It Back,” they’d covered James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Stephen Stills, Eric Burdon and War and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. On this one, they covered Carole King and Jackie DeShannon.

Here, then, a little slice of what that sounded like.


“Sweet Seasons/Keep On Walkin’,” the Isley Brothers, from “Brother, Brother, Brother,” 1972. Out of print but available digitally.

In which we start with roughly 3 minutes of King’s top-10 single from earlier that year. Karl Potter’s congas propel an arrangement featuring the Isleys’ smooth vocals and some nice organ work by Truman Thomas. Then, with little warning, Ernie Isley cranks up his guitar and leads a segue into 2 minutes of something much funkier.

Pleasure from the Buddah Group, indeed.

Once Evan sees that, he’ll say: “Dad, that looks just like you!”

And I’ll say: “Sorry, pal, no resemblance.”

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Filed under May 2009, Sounds

Lacking momotum

We’ve reached the point in a typically long Wisconsin winter that it’s starting to wear me down. I’m lacking momotum.

What’s momotum? It’s momentum, but we once heard Ahmad Rashad say it that way during some game, and so it’s momotum forever.

thankyoumatchbook2So this will be a post that may not meet our usual standards — if we indeed have any — as we address some lingering odds and ends.

1. Early last week, we surpassed 200,000 visitors. Thanks, everyone.

2. The blogroll is fluid, always changing, and we’ve had a few swell additions.

Analog Apartment is for those of us who have turntables and lots of vinyl records, and the storage and design issues that come with them.

You’ll find fine tunes at Boogie Banger, Derek’s Daily 45, Doctor Mooney’s 115th Dream and Rollo & Grady.

Our man at Retro Music Snob has spun off a second blog, Rock God Cred. Between the two, they link to posts about classic rock from the ’60s to the ’90s.

3. You’ll find me on Facebook if you’re so inclined. If you’re a fan or a friend of this blog, you’ll find the AM, Then FM group on Facebook.

appshow02080914. I took a little road trip last Sunday and went to a record show, of course. The first guy I saw was a photographer from the local paper, a guy I used to work with. Thankfully, he kept me out of his photos. Well, almost.

The big guy at far left, digging through a crate, that’s me.

The guy in the foreground is Jim, from whom I’ve bought lots of albums in the last couple of years. He organizes the show. He’s the guy who sells records from a tent in his back yard when the weather is good.

If you want to see what a record show in our corner of Wisconsin is like, click here to see my friend Pat’s pictures.

Despite a limited budget, I picked up five nice albums.

Here are a couple of tunes from one, a $4 record.


“Somebody Been Messin'” and “I Must Be Losing My Touch,” the Isley Brothers, from “It’s Our Thing,” 1969. (The album link is to a 2-on-1 import CD that also has “Go All The Way,” their 1980 album.)

The Isleys start to get funky, as these two bass- and horn-driven scorchers demonstrate. “It’s Our Thing” was the Isleys’ first album after splitting from the Motown label. If you couldn’t tell from the title that they were delighted to be on their own, and on their own label — T-Neck — the liner notes go into great detail about just that.

This album hit No. 2 on the R&B charts. The single “It’s Your Thing” hit No. 2 on the pop charts and No. 1 on the R&B charts. This one also has a couple more familiar Isley cuts — “I Know Who You Been Socking It To” and “Give The Women What They Want.”

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Filed under February 2009, Sounds