The Isley Brothers - The Heat Is On
Ernie Isley (g, dr, perc, voc); Chris Jasper (keyb); O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley (voc); Marvin Isley (b)
Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley, Chris Jasper, Eric Sadler (A1)
1 LP, gatefold sleeve
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Columbia
Recording: 1975 at Kendun Recorders, Burbank (CA), by Kent Duncan
Production: The Isley Brothers
Originally released in 1975
Reissued in 2017
Side A :
Side B :
« 1975's The Heat Is On was the third album that the Isley Brothers recorded with their 3 + 3 lineup, and by that time, the lineup had really perfected its attractive soul/rock sound. The Isleys were providing great R&B long before keyboardist Chris Jasper, bassist Marvin Isley, and the distinctive guitarist Ernie Isley came on board in 1973; nonetheless, the newcomers added a lot to the group and helped it provide some of its best recordings. Marvin's basslines are as funky as it gets, and the Jimi Hendrix-influenced Ernie is a killer guitarist; he would have been perfect for Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, or Judas Priest if the Isley Brothers hadn't kept him busy in the 1970s. One of the 3 + 3 gems that no Isleys fans should be without is The Heat Is On, which is best known for the sweaty funk classic "Fight the Power" and the sexy quiet storm slow jam "For the Love of You." Lead vocalist Ronald Isley is as convincing on the funk scorchers as he is on caressing ballads like "Make Me Say It Again Girl" and "Sensuality." Meanwhile, "Hope You Feel Better Love" is brilliant because it contrasts those two sides of the 3 + 3 lineup -- the verses are sweetly melodic, but the chorus is forceful and explosive. Superb from start to finish, The Heat Is On is among the Isleys' most essential albums. » AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
« The Isley Brothers have been one of the most enduring rhythm and blues groups in musical history. Raised in Cincinnati, the brothers (Kelly, Rudolph, Ronny and Vernon) began their career as a gospel singing group with doo wop inclinations. They came to prominence in 1959 with the self-penned hit “Shout”. While this was a modest success at the time, the song has become a cultural touchstone. On different labels, The Isley Brothers still primarily a vocal group, had other top 20 hits including “Twist And Shout” and “This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)”. But in 1969, when they added Ernie Isley on electric guitar and drums, the group achieved significant crossover success with their biggest hit “It’s Your Thing”. The single reached # 2 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R & B chart. Significantly, the album was issued on their own label T-Neck Records. As the band expanded, it now included Ernie, Marvin, O’Kelly, Ronald, Rudolph and brother-in-law Chris Jaspar. The Isley brothers were a complete entity, handling songwriting, production and arrangement. Subsequent albums Givin’ It Back (1971), Brother, Brother, Brother (1972), 3+3 (1973) and Live It Up (1974) further established The Isley Brothers as major soul stars. Their next release, The Heat Is On represented an expanded soul and funk collection that brought socio-political themes and refined instrumentation into the repertoire. It went double platinum and reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Charts. This represented a commercial and creative peak for the group.
Speakers Corner Records has re-mastered The Heat Is On to 180-gram vinyl. This technology upgrade underscores the more sophisticated evolvement of the band. All of the songs were written by the band. Like many r & b artists in the 1970’s (Gil Scott Heron, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and James Brown), politics took a more prominent role in music. Side One opens with a classic song, “Fight The Power (Part1 & 2)”. It is a political statement (“…We gonna fight the powers that be…”) with a funky backbone. Ernie Isley’s smoking drums and Chris Jasper’s clavinet produce a relentless hypnotic groove. The growling, multi-dimensional vocals of Ronny Isley are gritty and compelling. A steady repeat chord sequence keeps the momentum going. Interestingly, this song was sampled by Public Enemy and used in the Spike Lee movie Do The Right Thing, giving it a second wind. “The Heat Is On (Part 1 & 2)” continues the soul/funk vine, but with a nastier feel.There are heavy, effect-laden guitars with full-out acid rock solos. ARP synthesizers (programmed by 70’s legends Malcolm Cecil and Robert Margouleff) deliver a texture to complement the raw acoustics. In a smoother arrangement, “Hope You Feel Better Love (Part 1 & 2)” is soulful, but with pop sensibilities. There is a spirited rock jam with searing, distorted guitar tones. A steady pulsating rhythm is hypnotic.
Side Two has a trio of mellow, slow dance mood shifters. “For The Love Of You (Part 1 & 2)” has a lilting Memphis-style wistfulness that is Al-Green worthy. Ronny’s transformative vocals (with falsetto) are emotional. Jasper’s electric piano and flute-synthesizer approximate a contemporary jazz translation, but with “in-the-pocket- soulful elegance. The atmospheric tapestry continues on “Sensuality (part 1 & 2)”. This is soul balladry at its best. Jasper’s glowing synth lines frame Isley’s quietly urgent passion. The finale, “Make Me Say It Again Girl (Part 1 & 2)” executes a never-ending refrain that goes on and on. The listener will not want this love-fest to end.
Speakers Corner Records has done its customary superlative job in re-mastering The Heat Is On to 180-gram vinyl. The layered instrumentation is thick, but not overly dense. Ron Isley’s distinctive higher-register tonality is dulcet and elastic. The occasional hard-edged guitar tones fit into the mix evenly. Hi-gloss gatefold packaging, protective sleeves and a pressing without hisses and pops makes this vinyl mandatory for any soul collection. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition, Oct 31, 2019
A glance at the discs, which rocked through the charts under the simple name of “Isley Brothers” will give you an idea of how a »long-lasting and self-generative family enterprise« (The Times) became a true soul factory. After a brisk start with popular rock’n’roll music, similar to that which a large number of black vocal groups turned out in the Fifties, followed a long march from one record company to another – all of whom were hard pushed to equate the dynamic musicality of these brothers with the 'own sound' of their productions. After hopping from one record label to the next, and not even getting a long-lasting break with the potent Motown label Tamla, golden days arrived when they set up their own label – T-Neck.
Amidst the turmoil created by strong competition from superb studio albums, the Isleys landed a smash hit in 1975 with "The Heat Is On", an album which achieved double platinum status with its collection of perfectly written numbers. Powerful, funky volleys ("Fight The Power"), gyrating riffs as a launch pad for harmonious vocals and a creative solo ("The Heat Is On") go their own way, which is also apparent in the bell-like, airy ballads that swing along tastefully – quite without the sugar-sweet strings so popular at that time.
AllMusic : 4.5 / 5 , Discogs : Rate Your Music :