Why We Picked This
VMP: Of all The Isley Brothers records, why’d you pick this one?
As the Classics A&R at VMP, this year, I’ve really been looking at bigger-named artists that have albums that could really use this high-quality reissue that we do with Classics, in addition to the crate digger stuff we do as well. I’ve loved The Isley Brothers since I was a kid, and I discovered “Twist and Shout” and “Shout” like just about everybody. But this record, particularly, was the one I zeroed in on because I think this is their best album. They made 30 studio albums, and this is exactly the midway point, their 15th record, and it’s this record that finds them leaving the R&B stuff that they’d been doing previously, and becoming a pretty muscular funk group. They’re making really rubbery, hard-hitting funk music on this record.
When I started thinking of The Isley Brothers as a group and which record to reissue, it occurred to me that they secretly might be the most important American rock band ever. They influenced the Beatles — their “Twist and Shout” is a cover of The Isley Brothers’ — but they also influenced Ice Cube because he raps over “Footsteps in the Dark” on “Today Was a Good Day.” (And “Footsteps in the Dark” is on this Go for Your Guns record.) The Isley Brothers charted an album in the ’50s, the ’60s, the ’70s, the ’80s, the ’90s, and the 2000s. For 60 years, they have been a presence in the American rock culture, and it feels like they do not get enough nods for that; they’ve been around that long.
That’s really where I decided it needs to be an Isley Brothers record, and — sentimentally — this is the one I love the most. This record made me realize they made a lot of music outside of the classic rock songs you hear from them that everybody knows. I picked this, and then two or three weeks later, they announced that they were headlining one of the nights at Pitchfork Festival. So, it felt like really good timing: It’s The Isley Brothers’ 60th anniversary as a band, it’s a big moment for them, and we’re getting to honor one of their coolest records in that same month.
What our reissue packaging looking like?
At Classics, the thing that we’ve been doing since Al Green — and we’re doing again here — is that this album’s pressed at QRP in Kansas: It’s considered one of the best pressing plants on Earth. It’s on 180-gram vinyl, and it’s been remastered from tape at Sterling Sound by Ryan Smith. It’s all triple-A analog, and it’s as good as this record’s ever going to sound for vinyl, so your $8 thrift store copy is not going to stand up to this edition. It comes, like always, with a tip-on jacket, and I wrote the liner notes for this one. You’ll be able to read that on the Vinyl Me, Please Magazine, as well as finding it in your copy of this record.