Ernie Isley

isley brothers

The Isley Brothers have scored hits in six different decades thanks to an ever-evolving sound, stretching from doo-wop to psychedelic funk to disco. Guitarist Ernie Isley joins Jim and Greg for a career spanning discussion.

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Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently released an official Spotify playlist for her 2016 campaign, featuring the likes of Katy Perry and Ariana Grande. Jim doubts that Clinton made the playlist herself, suggesting that the featured artists are more in tune with the tastes of a young campaign staffer. But President Obama’s playlist is more authentic, featuring tracks by The Tempations, The Isley Brothers, and even one of Jim’s favorite bands, Low Cut Connie. But this isn’t to say that Obama’s playlist is flawless – Jim is sorely disappointed by the Coldplay pick.

Speaking of presidential candidates, New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently issued a statement proclaiming his adoration for Bruce Springsteen. The politician writes that the Boss gave voice to the suburban kids like me who were filled with dreams and doubts. He was one of us. Christie goes so far as to say Born to Run is my Desert Island disc. Greg is surprised by the pick, given Christie’s preference for Bon Jovi, another New Jersey native. Jim thinks that his home state has quite a lot to be embarrassed about these days.

From time to time Jim and Greg like to sit down and take a look at the Billboard Chart to discuss the country’s most popular albums. Country rocker Luke Bryan is at #1 with his new album Kill the Lights, but Jim doesn’t see what’s so great about this seemingly generic country music. Familiar artists Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift continue to dominate, with the #2 and #7 records, respectively. Greg is happy to see former The Voice contestant Melanie Martinez on the charts, a former member of Jim’s favorite artist Adam Levine’s team. And let’s not forget about the #8 artist, Bullet for my Valentine, a Welsh heavy metal band that Jim and Greg just can’t get enough of. But perhaps the most interesting chart topper this week is Elvis Presley, whose retrospective album Elvis Forever is selling big in your local Post Office.

Ernie Isley

Few groups can claim the sustained success of The Isley Brothers, in no small part due to the contributions of our guest Ernie Isley. The Isley Brothers formed in the 1950s as a doo-wop vocal group in Cincinatti, scoring huge hits with the wedding staples Shout and Twist and Shout. They managed to survive the British Invasion, assisted by the incredible playing of their young guitarist Jimi Hendrix. With the addition of two more brothers, Ernie and Marvin, the band started to branch out into funk, soul, psychedelia, rock, and disco. It’s this willingness to defy categorization that’s led to the Isleys’ longevity – the band scored the rare feat of charting in six consecutive decades.

Ernie Isley picked up where Hendrix left off on guitar, creating an unmistakeable tone featured on hits like That Lady and Summer Breeze. But his contributions as a songwriter were just as vital, including a pair of sociallly conscious anthems in 1975: Harvest for the World and Fight the Power, which Ernie penned in the shower before a trip to Disneyland. The Isleys’ influence continues to be heard today in the hip-hop realm. Artists from Ice Cube to Notorious B.I.G. to Kendrick Lamar have crafted iconic songs from Isley Brothers samples. The band is now being honored with a massive boxset called The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983), and even that just scratches the surface of the Isleys’ long career.

The Most Lamentable Tragedy Titus Andronicus

The Most Lamentable Tragedy

The New Jersey punk band Titus Andronicus recently released their fourth album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy. The thematic nature of the record is about lead singer Patrick Stickles’ battle with manic depression. It’s a rock opera, complete with five different acts, a silent intermission track and even a couple of covers. For Greg, every note oozes with importance and passion. He thinks the album as a whole is definitely overwhelming and opulent but ultimately a distinctive piece of work. He gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees and says that the music can overtake the listener, but one doesn’t have to follow the somewhat complicated story to enjoy it. He thinks Titus Andronicus does a good job mixing a Celtic lilt with traditional punk sound and even thinks the album is on par with Hüsker Dü’s Zen Arcade and Fucked Up’s David Comes to Life. The Most Lamentable Tragedy receives a double Buy It.

Greg

After talking about the Isley Brothers’ extensive box set earlier, it reminded Greg of another box set he recently received by British rockers, The Faces. The band, which included members Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, was often perceived as a group of drunken rogues and were most famous for their song Stay With Me. Even though a number of the key members are now long gone, the group influenced acts like Wilco and The Replacements with their English rock sound. Despite their rowdy reputation, their song lyrics indicate that they were actually just young men afraid of having their hearts broken. For this episode’s Desert Island Jukebox pick, Greg wanted to play the title track from their last album, Ooh La La that really highlights Ronnie Wood’s singing as well as his songwriting skills (he co-authored the track with bandmate Ronnie Lane.)

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