Selected by Dan
Four decades of funk
the latter generation funk of Jamiroquai and Destiny' Child, not to
mention a thousand Japanese imitators, Tokyo will also be host this fall
to two seminal funk bands who, between them, have the better part of a
century of music-making between them.
weekend, Earth, Wind and Fire will be bringing their monster show to the
Budokan, while in December, this fall's comeback sensation The Isley
Brothers, hit the more intimate Shibuya Ax for two dates.
While the Isley Brothers have bequeathed a musical legacy to pop
equal even perhaps to that of James Brown, their recent stature預t least
until the August release of Eternal
揺as been inexcusably low. Formed in Cincinnati in the early ・0s by
O'Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald, the Isleys penned the first of many hits with
"Shout," now an R&B classic, in 1959.
Jumping from label to label, the group's stint with Atlantic
Records produced the 1964 song, "Who's That Lady?" which
showcased Ronald Isley's sweet but powerful tenor vocals. They also did a
stint with Motown, but庸ed up with labels telling them what to do葉hey
launched their own company, T-Neck Records, in the mid-・0s.
The move was unprecedented for black artists at the time, but it
was only one of the Isley's forward-thinking moves. Around this time they
also signed a young guitarist whose explosive style and experimentations
were to shape a generation of guitarists. Testify
featured Jimi Hendrix on lead guitars, giving him free rein to show off
his virtuosity. But, perhaps ahead of its time, the album was not a
Adding brothers Ernie (guitar), Marvin (bass) and cousin Chris
(keyboards), the Isleys, now a sextet, reached the apex of their career
with a string of sizzling funk hits in the early ・0s. 1975's The Heat Is On was the most successful distillation of the group's
experimental, yet slick soul, producing the Top 10 single "Fight The
Power," an incendiary Black power anthem.
In the ・0s, the Isleys receded into obscurity as fans found a
new generation of funk in Prince and others. But, despite even the death
of brother O'Kelly, they soldiered on. 1996's Mission To Please was
exactly that, an attempt to please young listeners with ・0s-style
But it wasn't until the surprise success of Eternal
this fall that the Isleys have been able to reclaim their place in the
R&B firmament. They have also been recognized by the new generation of
R&B stars, with, for example, the late Aaliyah notching a hit with a
recording of the Isley痴 hit "At Your Best."
Isley Brothers play Shibuya Ax Dec 5-6. See listings for details.