The Isley Brothers

The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters: 1959-1983

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In a way, the Isley Brothers have been taken for granted. Part of that is the group's unwitting doing because they were exceptionally steady. From 1966 through 1983, the Isleys placed at least one single on the Billboard R&B chart each year. They were always present, frequently at or near the top. For an extended period, they were among the most progressive groups, whether they were mixing gospel, soul, and rock, incorporating synthesizers without sacrificing the funk, covering pop hits and often surpassing them, or epitomizing quiet storm. When they retreated from the fore, they adapted with ease. Another factor in their undervalued status is that their vast discography has been reissued in chunks by various sources across the decades. The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters: 1959-1983, released by the Sony catalog's Legacy division, is a corrective measure in the form of a compact 23-disc box set. It doesn't cover the Isleys' brief '60s stints with Wand, United Artists, and Tamla, but it is remarkably generous with dozens of bonus tracks -- mono versions, single edits, instrumentals, and so forth -- and LP-replica sleeves for each album. As an extra enticement for those who dutifully rounded up those late-'90s Legacy and early-2010s BBR reissues, there's Wild in Woodstock, a previously unreleased recording of the Go All the Way-era band performing at Bearsville Studios. Intended for release with overdubbed crowd noise that was thankfully never applied, the set alternates between blistering and gliding and deserves a separate physical issue outside the box.

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