THE ISLEY BROTHERS
Throughout a 50-plus year career, Ron Isley and his brothers have explored gospel-infused soul, gritty R&B, sizzling funk-rock and smoothly seductive baby-makers, acing everything they’ve played. A pit-stop at Tamla Motown is barely a career high point for the siblings who introduced the infectious call-and-response raver “Shout” into our cultural DNA, and gave a fledgling guitarist named Jimi Hendrix one of his first recorded gigs. Hendrix was a key influence on guitarist Ernie Isley, whose snaky riffs made The Isleys hit as hard as any 1970s rockers, Led Zeppelin included. Starting in the ’80s, frontman Ron dropped his natural, full-throated register that fueled the rump-shaking funk powerhouse “It’s Your Thing” for the cool and creamy falsetto he lent to R&B collaborations with R. Kelly and Trey Songz. Nowadays, death and diverging careers have pared The Isleys down to Ron, Ernie and a backing band. Ron slightly favors his recent, sweet, adult contemporary confections over his blistering back-catalog, and Ernie’s fiery guitar too often simmers on the back burner, but The Isleys haven’t lost their uncanny knack to make music that stirs the soul.