Yesterday, the Morning Groove featured a cover by The New Birth of a Bobby Womack song. Today’s Morning Groove is going to be another cover, by the band that spent the early 70s covering a lot of pop and rock songs and giving them a soulful, funky twist. What Luther Vandross was to R&B covers in the 80s, the Isley Brothers were in the early 70s. Songs by Bob Dylan (“Lay Lady Lay”), Carole King (“It’s Too Late”), the Doobie Brothers (“Listen To The Music”) and Todd Rundgren (“Hello It’s Me”) were all put in the Isley spin cycle during that period. The song I’m featuring today comes from an album (3 + 3) that contained four covers (the aforementioned Doobie Brothers song, plus James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”, and Jonathan Edwards’ “Sunshine (Go Away Today”)), plus a reworking of a song they did in 1964 (“Who’s That Lady” became “That Lady”).
You may have noticed that I only have three of the covers listed above from that magical album. Released in 1973, 3 + 3 was a major highlight in the career of the Isley Brothers. The three original brothers (lead singer Ronald, Rudolph and O’Kelly) were joined by younger brothers Marvin and Ernie, and cousin Chris Jasper, and their sound changed overnight into a rock-funk-soul mixture that saw them become immensely popular over the next decade. But it all started with this album.
Oh, sorry. Got a bit distracted. That fourth cover? Seals & Crofts’ “Summer Breeze.” It’s the Morning Groove for today.
I know it’s not quite summer yet, but who cares about that when you got a track as hot as this?
My first guitar hero wasn’t Carlos Santana, bad as he is. It wasn’t Clapton, or Beck, or Page, or even Jimi Hendrix. To my ears, Ernie Isley was the baddest guitar player I ever heard (I was seven; I didn’t know much about history…to borrow from Sam Cooke). The way that man tears into the leads on this song, and “That Lady” also, how could you not enjoy his skills.The way he carries this one out to the fade…my goodness. It was much later that I found out that Hendrix spent some time playing with his older brothers, so Ernie probably soaked up as much knowledge as he could. When he was ready…oh boy.
Please enjoy this Morning Groove. And as always, thanks for listening and reading.