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  1. #1

    Cool What happened with the Isley Brothers at Motown?

    Listening today to "I Guess I'll Always Love You" and I thought, what a wasted masterpiece. What on earth happened to the Isley Brothers at Motown? They came out of the gate strong with one of the best records by any Motown artist, "This Old Heart of Mine," a song universally lauded and discussed in music magazine articles. But then, Motown did an odd thing; they followed up a trendsetter, a break from the past with a song that was exactly a return to the past: "Take Some Time Out for Love," which went nowhere. Then came the record that sounded like IT was supposed to follow the trendsetting "This Old Heart"- "I Guess I'll Always Love You." Apparently, either the momentum of the Isleys' career was lost with just one misfire -OR- Motown was satisfied that they proved they could get a hit on an artist that wasn't a homegrown creation and just left the subsequent records to fend for themselves.

    Either way, I never understood why Motown would follow up something that gave the Isleys a fresh, updated sound with a record, even though nice, was a huge throwback in style and sound. "I Guess I'll Always Love You" was such a a breathtaking record and sounds as if it was an upward progression of "This Old Heart." But hardly anyone in the listening public cared about the record. After this, the records just progressively did worse on the charts until, thankfully, the brothers broke from Motown to do something completely new.

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    Good question! There's no way to know for sure why Motown chose to follow up The Isley Bros. "This Old Heart Of Mine" with the [vastly inferior] "Take Some Time Out For Love". Also, that one misfire should not have thrown things completely off-track for The Isleys since they had other songs at Motown I feel should've been big hits [like "I Guess I'll Always Love You", "Got To Have You Back" & "Behind A Painted Smile"*]. Anyways, The Isleys stint at Motown ended and they set off as independent artists with their label T-Neck and enjoyed a great run of success during the '70s [and beyond].

    * As we know, "Behind A Painted Smile" did become a hit in England after being ignored as the B-Side of 1968's "All Because I Love You" here in the US [another mistake that Motown made with The Isley Bros.].
    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 01-17-2023 at 07:00 AM.

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    Come to think of it, since The Isley Bros. were not a 'home grown' Motown act their singles simply didn't get the attention they deserved. The company had so much going with The Supremes, The Temptations, Four Tops, etc., they put the group on their "B list" when it came to promotion. Another group that wasn't a 'home grown' Motown act [and signed with Motown at around the same time as The Isleys], Gladys Knight & The Pips, ran into some of the same problems. However, thanks to "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" [and the group's ability to do their own promotion with the disk jockeys], their career at Motown was a success.

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    Interestingly enough, when Behind a Painted Smile was released, I do not ever recall hearing it played on the air here in the east coast. It was only several years later that I became familiar with this song as a result of the Isley's Greatest Hits and Rare Classics. As a result, I today consider BAPS their greatest accomplishment. I see no reason it could not have sold as well as their This Old Heart of Mine had they given it some publicity. They dropped the ball on this one.

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    I really like "All Because I Love You", but only as a slow-burning album track and not as a great track for single release. "Behind A Painted Smile" was by far the superior side.

    Still, we are talking about the company that wouldn't allow Marvin's "Grapevine" to be released at all, that viewed Stevie's "My Cherie Amour" as only worthy of release as a B-side, that only realised the value in Stevie's "Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday" after its poor judgement regarding "My Cherie Amour" became rather obvious, and that allegedly would only allow "Tears Of A Clown" to be released as an album track.

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    If it weren't for the music the Isley Brothers left behind, their history with Motown is almost lost to time. I was listening to their Anthology this past weekend and the group actually made some great tunes with Motown. Their first album was almost completely done by HDH! I think most Motown act would have loved for HDH to produce an album for them. I've also just seen a couple of photos during this time period, no video clips during this era by the group and I've never even heard any live tracks from this era either. The group is never spoken about by any songwriters or producers from their time there. Like what actually happened? My guess is that it was partly timing and probably their stage act. When the Isleys joined Motown in late '65 many of the groups and artists were just hitting their stride and were consistently hitting the top 40 with their releases and the Isley's were just further down on the priority list for promotion. Secondly, Motown was also grooming all the top acts to play in fancy supper clubs and venues with standards and showtunes thrown in to show their versality. I don't think the Isleys were built for the supper club route and Motown didn't really prioritize those acts that couldn't cross over into the mainstream. Sure they had a hit or two before joining Motown, but they were not in the same league as the top Motown groups.

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    I remember that Motown tried to sue the Isleys when "Its Your Thing" became a big hit, saying they wrote it while signed to Motown.

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    There was a lot of animosity between the Isleys and Motown during their tenure and for years after. I remember reading an article way back in the 70s where Ronald Isley said they were mishandled at Motown. Motown did sue over royalties for the big hit It's Your Thing, the Isley's countersued that Motown deliberately mismanaged them. The Isleys claimed Reach Out I'll Be There was intended for them but given to the 4 Tops. When they hit big on T Neck, Motown countered by issuing an lp of vaulted material [[Doin' Their Thing) and a couple more singles to compete with their new material. It took several years for the dust to settle on all this. Being that the Isleys came from outside the company they likely questioned things that home acts didn't.

    Their first Motown lp was a good set, albeit too many covers. The second Tamla lp was strictly B-level, throw away material strictly to honor their contract. The group was off big again in 1966 but by the end of 1967 were ice cold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    There was a lot of animosity between the Isleys and Motown during their tenure and for years after. I remember reading an article way back in the 70s where Ronald Isley said they were mishandled at Motown. Motown did sue over royalties for the big hit It's Your Thing, the Isley's countersued that Motown deliberately mismanaged them. The Isleys claimed Reach Out I'll Be There was intended for them but given to the 4 Tops. When they hit big on T Neck, Motown countered by issuing an lp of vaulted material [[Doin' Their Thing) and a couple more singles to compete with their new material. It took several years for the dust to settle on all this. Being that the Isleys came from outside the company they likely questioned things that home acts didn't.

    Their first Motown lp was a good set, albeit too many covers. The second Tamla lp was strictly B-level, throw away material strictly to honor their contract. The group was off big again in 1966 but by the end of 1967 were ice cold.
    If their second Tamla LP was intended to be strictly B-level then Motown failed as there are some great tracks on there and, as far as I recall, only one non-Motown track.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sotosound View Post
    If their second Tamla LP was intended to be strictly B-level then Motown failed as there are some great tracks on there and, as far as I recall, only one non-Motown track.
    In my humble opinion Soul On The Rocks is a stunning LP every bit as good as TOHOM

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    I had mentioned earlier their Isley Brothers 60's - Greatest Hits and Rare Classics.

    I always found it interesting that the 22-track collection included Twist and Shout as well as It's Your Thing. Both of these are under license from CBS Special Products , a division of CBS Records, Inc. I don't understand licensing agreements at all. Maybe someone could shed a light on how these agreements are implemented, etc. Cost?

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodward View Post
    I had mentioned earlier their Isley Brothers 60's - Greatest Hits and Rare Classics.

    I always found it interesting that the 22-track collection included Twist and Shout as well as It's Your Thing. Both of these are under license from CBS Special Products , a division of CBS Records, Inc. I don't understand licensing agreements at all. Maybe someone could shed a light on how these agreements are implemented, etc. Cost?
    I don't understand the terms necessarily. But I assume that Motown asked for permission from CBS to include those recordings and probably gives them some sort of royalty for doing so.

    They did the same thing with their Supremes Greatest Hits and Rare Classics collection, licensing a Jean Terrell solo track from A&M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodward View Post
    I had mentioned earlier their Isley Brothers 60's - Greatest Hits and Rare Classics.

    I always found it interesting that the 22-track collection included Twist and Shout as well as It's Your Thing.?
    I never even knew they had a release in that series! I am amazed at some of the tracks that came into that series. Wasn’t George Solomon responsible for many of those? Anyway, I figured they’d be selling for $125 or something ridiculous and I just went on Amazon and found one for seven dollars with free shipping! There’s one other copy left. Someone should grab it. I almost bought both! I love their Motown period. Especially their second album. I think it’s a real underrated masterpiece like the Elgins album.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Motown Eddie View Post
    Good question! There's no way to know for sure why Motown chose to follow up The Isley Bros. "This Old Heart Of Mine" with the [vastly inferior] "Take Some Time Out For Love". Also, that one misfire should not have thrown things completely off-track for The Isleys since they had other songs at Motown I feel should've been big hits [like "I Guess I'll Always Love You", "Got To Have You Back" & "Behind A Painted Smile"*]. Anyways, The Isleys stint at Motown ended and they set off as independent artists with their label T-Neck and enjoyed a great run of success during the '70s [and beyond].

    * As we know, "Behind A Painted Smile" did become a hit in England after being ignored as the B-Side of 1968's "All Because I Love You" here in the US [another mistake that Motown made with The Isley Bros.].
    It's absolutely mind boggling to me about the "Take Some Time Out For Love" release. Actually, I'd understand it more if they had gone with that for the first release- a sort of nod to their past but with the updated Motown groove. Still, releasing "This Old Heart" was a stroke of genius, so THAT I understand.

    "Behind A Painted Smile" was completely wasted. That record is Ivy Jo at his best. The record is solidly Motown, but it moves the "Sound" forward. "All Because I Love You" is actually a great record, but not in the mono mix. The stereo mix reveals a much, MUCH funkier recording. I think though, it was in a strange place of being too black for pop sales and not black enough for R&B sales. I also think it was out of place for 1968 or '69. It may have done better in the 70s but with a much stronger mix highlighting the drums and horns.

    I really don't get why Motown signed all these people only to let them wither on the vine.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    There was a lot of animosity between the Isleys and Motown during their tenure and for years after. I remember reading an article way back in the 70s where Ronald Isley said they were mishandled at Motown. Motown did sue over royalties for the big hit It's Your Thing, the Isley's countersued that Motown deliberately mismanaged them. The Isleys claimed Reach Out I'll Be There was intended for them but given to the 4 Tops. When they hit big on T Neck, Motown countered by issuing an lp of vaulted material [[Doin' Their Thing) and a couple more singles to compete with their new material. It took several years for the dust to settle on all this. Being that the Isleys came from outside the company they likely questioned things that home acts didn't.

    Their first Motown lp was a good set, albeit too many covers. The second Tamla lp was strictly B-level, throw away material strictly to honor their contract. The group was off big again in 1966 but by the end of 1967 were ice cold.
    I can understand why Ronald would feel that Motown mismanaged the group. They did. Absolutely. The first album was fully enjoyable- yeah, there were a LOT of covers, but even then, it was still a good solid album [[although it's still a little jarring to hear Ify Jo's "Seek And You Shall Find" at the end- it was just so completely different than all the other HDH material.)

    I remember being excited about finding the "Soul On the Rocks" album and kinda feeling a letdown. Don't get me wrong, there are good songs on it, but to me, it didn't have the alchemy, the cohesion of the "This Old Heart" album. At first, I chalked it up to the fact that there was material from a variety of producers here, but then look at the Marvelettes' "Pink" album- that one had a variety of producers too, but the tracks were so well chosen, that thing plays like an actual album as opposed to just a bunch of tracks thrown together. Over time, I started appreciating that "Soul On The Rocks" was an album that you really had to grow to appreciate. There's not really anything on there I don't like, but there just seems to be something kinda lacking at the same time.

    In the UK, Tamla Motown released "Tamla Motown Presents The Isley Brothers", which was compiled from tracks we'd NEVER heard here in the US. THAT album was much stronger than "Soul On The Rocks." The UK, as always, seemed to have something US Motown didn't have: a real appreciation for the music and artists.

  16. #16
    OH! And when you have a song as good as "I Can't Go On Sharing Your Love", an HDH original, and you don't put THAT out as a single? What was going on with the company and Quality Control?

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    You can add "A weakspot in my heart" to that list.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by snakepit View Post
    You can add "A weakspot in my heart" to that list.
    OOOOOOOOOHHHH YES!!!!! Wow. That one is tough for me to listen to because it's basically the story of my folks- divorced, but when my mother became ill, my father was RIGHT there for her; it showed that even if marriage doesn't work, it doesn't necessarily erase the love that was there. But the fact that it's hard for me to listen to this without getting a bit emotional shows that Motown wasn't just all frivolous dance music. Those writers could come up with songs that connected on a deeply emotional level as well. That one should have been some kind of single- if Motown had mapped out the Brothers' releases as carefully as they did their bigger acts. Good one, Snakepit!
    Last edited by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance; 01-18-2023 at 04:08 AM.

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    I guess The Isley Bros wanted a level of artistic freedom that Motown wasn't prepared to give at the time. Something that Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye managed to achieve a later.

    I always enjoyed all of their music from their time at Motown, never once thinking it was B list material. Their Motown Anthology 2 CD set is excellent in showcasing their time on the label. I especially like the stereo mix of This Old Heart Of Mine which gives the same overall feel as the mono single mix. A much better effort than the original album stereo mix.

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    I went to both of the Isleys Brothers concerts in the UK later in the 7T's when they were the three key singers and then later in the early 8T's, when then they had six members of the group rather than just the original three. At each of the concerts other than a quick 2 minute run down of Motown songs that was it, they only then focused on their own songs that they owned.
    From both concerts quite a number of paying attendees had expected Motown records and songs, and that wasn't to be. After the 2nd concert ended I took a few of their more recent albums to get them signed after the concert, [having waited] they [some] agreed to sign the albums I had. But I did try having a chat about Motown, which they avoided it a lot and changed the subject, however they did mention it and made it clear that legally they are not allowed to use any Motown [Jobete] music.
    I do feel, and pretty obvious they can use "Jobete" but don't want to pay and don't want anything to do with Motown [Berry Gordy].

    Both of the events a significant number of paying "Motowners" were not impressed especially the 8T's event which had more modern music and longer guitar versions. I enjoyed it, but a lot had been put out in thinking they would also be playing "Motown" and would not attend again.

    The Isleys is one of my favourite groups, I like the early "stuff" but I do love their Motown period. I have their Albums but the favourite and the best of any of their Motown Albums, is this one below & the song Nowhere To Run" [never issued on 45 only on Album] I purchased this copy in 1972 for the sum of 99p.
    I just loved the album cover with a great picture of the brothers & wow how good are those suits.
    You can easily pick up a copy from Ebay. [If you want the track list I can add it on]

    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 01-18-2023 at 08:18 AM.

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    Isley Brothers [[UK) Greatest Hits
    Listings:

    Attachment 20252

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    I actually am looking at the EMI/Starline SRS 5098 vinyl album released in the UK. There are 12 songs included in it [including 7 previously unissued tracks].

    Tell Me It's Just a Rumour Baby
    You've Got So Much to Shout About
    It Moves Me to Tears
    Why When Love Is Gone
    Trouble
    No Good Without You

    Whispers [[Gettin' Louder)
    All Because I Love You
    Leaving Here
    One Too Many Heartaches
    Share a Little Love With Me [[somebody)
    I Can't Help It [[I Love You)

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    Ahh the 1st issue is ZSRS 5043, the 2nd SRS 5098

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    Although in the mid 60s, I was listening and loving practically everything I heard from Motown, my introduction to the Isley Brothers was probably not the best way to learn to appreciate them. I don't know what collection or album I was listening to as my indoctrination to them; but what I recall thinking is, "All they seem to be doing are covers of the Supremes' songs" which at that time was not a good thing for my ears. The Isley Brothers' deliveries and vocals were rather distracting to tracks that I had already associated with my favorite group. Then later, when I started listening to their other outings, that stigma of my initial introduction still stuck in my psyche.

    With that said, I, too, don't know where they really fit in at Motown and in Motown's history. Apparently, they did have some success being that they have recognized by the Grammy awards through wins and nominations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by woodward View Post
    I actually am looking at the EMI/Starline SRS 5098 vinyl album released in the UK. There are 12 songs included in it [including 7 previously unissued tracks].

    Tell Me It's Just a Rumour Baby
    You've Got So Much to Shout About
    It Moves Me to Tears
    Why When Love Is Gone
    Trouble
    No Good Without You

    Whispers [[Gettin' Louder)
    All Because I Love You
    Leaving Here
    One Too Many Heartaches
    Share a Little Love With Me [[somebody)
    I Can't Help It [[I Love You)
    On that LP, "Tell Me It's Just A Rumour Baby" is the longer unedited version.

    After "Behind A Painted Smile" hit the UK charts, the UK Tamla Motown label re-issued "Soul On The Rocks" with two additional tracks and an amended running order as "Behind A Painted Smile", and I was lucky enough to get a copy for less than the equivalent of 50p from W.H. Smith, who astutely bought out loads of just-deleted mono pressings of a number of Motown albums probably for next to nothing after EMI decided to stop offering albums in both mono and stereo versions.

    The extra tracks on TML11112 were "Take Me In Your Arms [[Rock Me A Little While)" in its superior mono mix, and "All Because I Love You" folded down from what I consider to be its superior stereo mix. That was a serious 14-track album!

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    My introduction to Motown was the summer of 1967.
    In school holidays, a few friends and myself would go swimming in the morning, and spend the afternoons playing Monopoly against a backdrop of records my friend had...all Soul 45s, Motown and other sounds.
    The A & B sides were heavily rotated and I was drawn towards the strange sounding, exotic looking Tamla Motown label. Great B sides.
    The one that got under my skin was "There's no love left".
    I was hooked

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    There's an interesting stereo edited version of Tell Me It's Just A Rumour on the This Is Northern Soul : The Motown Sound album. Very different mix to the stereo full length album version.
    Last edited by rovereab; 01-19-2023 at 08:50 AM.

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    As I recall, " Rumour" was played on the Northern /Rare Soul scene as an LP track off the Starline LP.
    Extremely rare for DJs to use LPs then.
    I'm sure that when EMI issued it due to demand they messed it up with the editing of the intro.

  29. #29
    "Tell Me It's Just A Rumour" was another strong contender as a single. I know Motown could have only released so many tracks, but I always thought that one track was a standout on the "Soul On The Rocks" LP and apparently, a lot of people in the UK felt the same.

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Jarvis View Post
    I went to both of the Isleys Brothers concerts in the UK later in the 7T's when they were the three key singers and then later in the early 8T's, when then they had six members of the group rather than just the original three. At each of the concerts other than a quick 2 minute run down of Motown songs that was it, they only then focused on their own songs that they owned.
    From both concerts quite a number of paying attendees had expected Motown records and songs, and that wasn't to be. After the 2nd concert ended I took a few of their more recent albums to get them signed after the concert, [having waited] they [some] agreed to sign the albums I had. But I did try having a chat about Motown, which they avoided it a lot and changed the subject, however they did mention it and made it clear that legally they are not allowed to use any Motown [Jobete] music.
    I do feel, and pretty obvious they can use "Jobete" but don't want to pay and don't want anything to do with Motown [Berry Gordy].

    Both of the events a significant number of paying "Motowners" were not impressed especially the 8T's event which had more modern music and longer guitar versions. I enjoyed it, but a lot had been put out in thinking they would also be playing "Motown" and would not attend again.

    The Isleys is one of my favourite groups, I like the early "stuff" but I do love their Motown period. I have their Albums but the favourite and the best of any of their Motown Albums, is this one below & the song Nowhere To Run" [never issued on 45 only on Album] I purchased this copy in 1972 for the sum of 99p.
    I just loved the album cover with a great picture of the brothers & wow how good are those suits.
    You can easily pick up a copy from Ebay. [If you want the track list I can add it on]

    I'm not at all surprised the Isleys didn't perform music from their Motown days. Again though, I have to believe this is a difference between how people in the US view older records vs. people in the UK. When I was a kid in the 70's, the Isleys were HUGE in the black community. I think they had some success on the pop charts, but I'd wager the group was now primarily an R&B/Urban group. I never, NEVER heard "This Old Heart Of Mine" until I really got into Motown, and by the time I even knew they had been with Motown, it was the 80s. Absolutely nobody in my circle of friends, among my much cooler and hipper older brother and relatives never said anything about the Isley's Motown music- and honestly, I don't think anyone in the US under 30 even would have cared. This is the thing I've also come to recognize- here in the states, as I was growing up, it seemed that everyone only cared about a band's latest hits and albums. If a song was more than a few years old, it was kinda forgotten, or as the kids in my high school would say- "Man that's played out" meaning it's so old nobody was thinking about it anymore.

    I'd love to know if I'm wrong here. Did the Isleys ever perform "This Old Heart" in live performances here in the States in the 70s and 80s? I would be surprised to find out if they did because not many people under 30 were really into Motown or anything considered old. At lest, the audience for the Isleys more than likely wouldn't be interested in the old stuff. I don't really think Motown gained a renewed relevance until maybe after Motown 25, but even now, nobody here that I know is into Motown, not even in the most casual of ways. So yeah, I would actually have been MORE surprised if you told me they had done any of their Motown stuff in those 70s and 80s concerts.

  31. #31
    Further on the subject of the Isley Brothers' time at Motown; it really does seem as if Motown only ever had one photo session with the brothers. Pretty much any and all pictures I've ever seen of the Motown days are of them in those orange suits. It would be fantastic if there were other photos discovered deep in Motown archives. I'd have to think there would be, considering the photo used on the cover of "Soul On The Rocks." No orange suits there- and I wouldn't think the photo session for that cover would be just that one picture! Surely the photographer took multiple photos so there'd be a nice variety to choose from for the photo cover. I swear, it's like the only reason the brothers were signed to Motown was because maybe it would be seen as some sort of feather in Motown's cap, as if to say "See? We're so good, we can get ANYONE we want!"

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    According to Wikipedia the Isley Brothers have released three live albums in the years: 1969, 1973 and 1993. This Old Heart Of Mine does not appear on any of the albums. Yet can someone explain to me why Ron Isley would do a duet together with Rod Stewart on the song?


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    Quote Originally Posted by SatansBlues View Post
    According to Wikipedia the Isley Brothers have released three live albums in the years: 1969, 1973 and 1993. This Old Heart Of Mine does not appear on any of the albums. Yet can someone explain to me why Ron Isley would do a duet together with Rod Stewart on the song?

    Money, perhaps?

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    One more thing about The Isley Bros. stint at Motown. It's a shame that they never got to finish & release "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted". We know about the embryonic version of the song the The Isleys did [then called "Smile"] that was shelved for decades. I'm sure that "WBOTBH" would've made a Great follow up to "This Old Heart Of Mine" [and I'm sure that it annoyed The Isleys no end when Jimmy Ruffin had the big hit with "What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted" in 1966].

    Last edited by Motown Eddie; 01-19-2023 at 06:38 AM.

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    The Isley Brothers had been label-hopping [[without any significant hits) for years in the early 60s. It probably made sense at the time to jump to Motown and they at least had some singles success from their first H-D-H album.

    What I can't understand is why the brothers - who had song-writing talent - didn't at least have some songs they had written to suggest as album-fillers or singles B-sides at the least.

    Seems even stranger that when they left Motown their self-penned singles for their new label had chart success.

    It would have made sense to me to have Motown's Isley albums as being one side H-D-H [[or Ivy Jo) written & one side Isley. Seems a waste of song-writing talent.

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    "Tell Me It's Just A Rumour Baby" Although recorded in 1967 it was never issued on 45 in the U.S. only in the UK in 1973 due to the demand from the Northern Soul scene. Fuqua, Bristol & Bullock the song writers. [BSide "Save Me From This Misery"]

    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 01-19-2023 at 08:11 AM.

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    "What Becomes of The Broken Hearted" was issued in 2009, a Double CD of the Isleys Motown-50 is incredible . Checkout "My Love Is Your Love Forever"

    Unbelievable that you can pick up this CD on Ebay for £8.99 & £10.00.
    There are "Forty Two" unissued tracks of the fifty two on the two CD's. With a few from the 9'T's the rest from 2005-2009

    Paul Nixon did the research for the project & the sleevenotes.

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    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 01-19-2023 at 01:33 PM.

  38. #38
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    The Isley Brothers had been label-hopping [[without any significant hits) for years in the early 60s. It probably made sense at the time to jump to Motown and they at least had some singles success from their first H-D-H album.

    What I can't understand is why the brothers - who had song-writing talent - didn't at least have some songs they had written to suggest as album-fillers or singles B-sides at the least. Surely rhis might have been discussed even before they signed on?

    It would have made sense to me to have Motown's Isley albums as being one side H-D-H [[or Ivy Jo) written & one side Isley. Seems a waste of song-writing talent. And about the time they joined the label, Motown could've used some additional song-writers.

    Seems even stranger that when they left Motown their self-penned singles for their new label had chart success.

  39. #39
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    Ron Isley interview from Blues and Soul Magazine. His statements as to the Motown experience. http://www.bluesandsoul.com/feature/...e_names_isley/

    "I'm so thankful for my history and so proud of my past. I also feel blessed to be able to change and to come up with new things. I think this record's going to make some history. I want everything I do to try to make some more history.
    We talk about the famed Motown days of course, and Ron tells me an astounding fact about why they left in 1968. "We did a lot of records there and a lot of people were jealous of our success, and complained to Berry Gordy that we were getting all the better songs. He took the records off us and gave them to other people. I first did the record Grapevine that Marvin did. He took it off me and gave it to Smokey, and he didn't do it that well. Then Gladys Knight came along and she did a different version of it. Later on Marvin did the same version that I had done. The same thing happened with the Four Tops. One of the records they were doing was Reach Out. We had it first. That was one of the reasons we were angry enough to say; hey man, we don't want to be doing this any more. We want to be doing our own thing. Then we came out and did This Old Heart Of Mine and that hit right away. Holland Dozier were so crazy about us, as all our records were hits. Then we left and Holland Dozier left, and that started the thing at Motown when everyone wanted to leave. The Temptations wanted to go, the different producers were leaving after we left. Then we did 'It's Your Thing' on our own label T-Neck, and we were sued by Motown. I don't know why he sued us. He believed that was one of the songs Holland and Dozier wrote, and we said he must be crazy. Friends of ours still at Motown would come to our house in New Jersey and talk about leaving the label. Motown argued that the group recorded the song while still under their Motown contract. A 1975 court decision eventually ended in the Isleys' favour. Ron has mixed emotions about the Motown days, but is grateful for everything they learned there that stood them in good stead to run their own T-Neck label and steer their own career. And for the friends they made and still have, such as Stevie Wonder."

    Ron and The Isleys seldom talk about Motown in any interview. They clearly moved on many many years ago, and given their enormous subsequent success as independent funk / soul trio / sextet/ performers / composers/ label owners, didn't feel the need to discuss the Motown period, where they had no input nor control. In one interview I heard Ron reference their time at Motown, saying they wanted to do their own thing, and were inspired by a rougher sound as captured by Johnnie Taylor and 'Who's Making Love'. They originally opened TNeck label in 1964, dormant whilst at Motown until they left in 1968, and released their album 'Get Into Something' on TNeck in 1969. This was completely written and produced by the Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly, only an arranger George Patterson contributed, otherwise all home grown.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK View Post
    Ron Isley interview from Blues and Soul Magazine. His statements as to the Motown experience. http://www.bluesandsoul.com/feature/...e_names_isley/

    "I'm so thankful for my history and so proud of my past. I also feel blessed to be able to change and to come up with new things. I think this record's going to make some history. I want everything I do to try to make some more history.
    We talk about the famed Motown days of course, and Ron tells me an astounding fact about why they left in 1968. "We did a lot of records there and a lot of people were jealous of our success, and complained to Berry Gordy that we were getting all the better songs. He took the records off us and gave them to other people. I first did the record Grapevine that Marvin did. He took it off me and gave it to Smokey, and he didn't do it that well. Then Gladys Knight came along and she did a different version of it. Later on Marvin did the same version that I had done. The same thing happened with the Four Tops. One of the records they were doing was Reach Out. We had it first. That was one of the reasons we were angry enough to say; hey man, we don't want to be doing this any more. We want to be doing our own thing. Then we came out and did This Old Heart Of Mine and that hit right away. Holland Dozier were so crazy about us, as all our records were hits. Then we left and Holland Dozier left, and that started the thing at Motown when everyone wanted to leave. The Temptations wanted to go, the different producers were leaving after we left. Then we did 'It's Your Thing' on our own label T-Neck, and we were sued by Motown. I don't know why he sued us. He believed that was one of the songs Holland and Dozier wrote, and we said he must be crazy. Friends of ours still at Motown would come to our house in New Jersey and talk about leaving the label. Motown argued that the group recorded the song while still under their Motown contract. A 1975 court decision eventually ended in the Isleys' favour. Ron has mixed emotions about the Motown days, but is grateful for everything they learned there that stood them in good stead to run their own T-Neck label and steer their own career. And for the friends they made and still have, such as Stevie Wonder."
    It's always about the timeline... and, with that in mind, I take a lot of what Mr. Isley says with a grain of salt. Jealousy of the Isleys at Motown? Maybe when they first came in and were immediately paired with top producers HDH? But... "This Old Heart Of Mine" was their first single at Motown released January 28, 1966 and reaching US Pop #12. Definitely a big hit, but... then no future releases get any higher than Pop #61 ["I Guess I'll Always Love You"]. Did they obviously record a lot more than was released? Absolutely--just like many other top- and middle-tier Motown acts. Could it be that they recorded "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" using the same music track as Marvin's? Maybe? The two known songs they recorded with Norman Whitfield were "That's The Way Love Is," [recorded in August 1966] and two versions of "Save Me From This Misery"--the first recorded in September 1966 and the second recorded in June 1967. Marvin's Grapevine had the track and his vocals recorded in February 1967. Unless there's an uncovered version of The Isley's "Grapevine" languishing in the vaults that was missed during the time their Anthology was being put together or when "Motown Unreleased: 1966" or "1967" were being prepared, I'm more inclined to think...that may not have happened. As for "Reach Out" supposedly being taken away from them to be given to The Four Tops, again... it may have happened, but... I think HDH was focused mainly on writing for The Supremes and The Four Tops and anyone else was secondary. I question whether "Reach Out" got so far with The Isleys before being taken away and given to the Four Tops. About them leaving and then HDH leaving... It appears some of The Isleys last [known] vocal dates were in April 1968. HDH were already gone by then. And if the Isleys had a 3-year contract[?], it would have run through to the fall of 1968...just before they left, recorded "It's Your Thing" and had Motown suing them saying, "you wrote that at Motown!"

    Did The Temptations really want to leave Motown in the 1960s? I'm not a Tempts scholar, but I would venture to say, "no," because for all their problems with David Ruffin, they were still a priority group for Motown. In fact, I'd say they became even more of a priority after they started working exclusively with Norman Whitfield in 1969 and beyond. The Tempts probably didn't start feeling like it might be time to go until 1974-75 when they weren't doing as well on the charts and were trying to get away [had gotten away] from Norman Whitfield. Of course, they eventually did leave Motown by 1977 for Atlantic.

    I can't think of anyone else, performer-wise, who would've gone to The Isleys' New Jersey home [presumably while performing in NYC] to grumble about Motown and say they wanted to leave? Producers or songwriters? Maybe. By 1968 or 1969, who was still at Motown, languishing, and possibly connecting with The Isleys to complain about Motown?

    The one thing I believe without a doubt is that The Isleys wrote "It's Your Thing" themselves. Nothing could stop them from writing their own songs... and if they had their own home studio in New Jersey the whole time--not being Detroit-based--then they could've cut it whenever they wanted. I just think that the loss of HDH and then they loss of "potential" hit-makers, The Isleys, caused Berry and his attorneys to lash out. At that point, artists CAME to Motown, they didn't LEAVE! was likely the reasoning.

    Again, it's always the timeline that throws claims into question. Short of documenting every moment of every day, things can become blended, remembered out of order, etc., for artists who are [usually] constantly working.

    All this said, I liked the work The Isleys did at Motown and wish they'd been able to get more hits while there. Sadly, sometimes there's just not enough money to promote every single artist at the same level, at the exact same time.
    Last edited by danman869; 01-19-2023 at 03:21 PM. Reason: typos

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK View Post
    Ron Isley interview from Blues and Soul Magazine. His statements as to the Motown experience. http://www.bluesandsoul.com/feature/...e_names_isley/

    "I'm so thankful for my history and so proud of my past. I also feel blessed to be able to change and to come up with new things. I think this record's going to make some history. I want everything I do to try to make some more history.
    We talk about the famed Motown days of course, and Ron tells me an astounding fact about why they left in 1968. "We did a lot of records there and a lot of people were jealous of our success, and complained to Berry Gordy that we were getting all the better songs. He took the records off us and gave them to other people. I first did the record Grapevine that Marvin did. He took it off me and gave it to Smokey, and he didn't do it that well. Then Gladys Knight came along and she did a different version of it. Later on Marvin did the same version that I had done. The same thing happened with the Four Tops. One of the records they were doing was Reach Out. We had it first. That was one of the reasons we were angry enough to say; hey man, we don't want to be doing this any more. We want to be doing our own thing. Then we came out and did This Old Heart Of Mine and that hit right away. Holland Dozier were so crazy about us, as all our records were hits. Then we left and Holland Dozier left, and that started the thing at Motown when everyone wanted to leave. The Temptations wanted to go, the different producers were leaving after we left. Then we did 'It's Your Thing' on our own label T-Neck, and we were sued by Motown. I don't know why he sued us. He believed that was one of the songs Holland and Dozier wrote, and we said he must be crazy. Friends of ours still at Motown would come to our house in New Jersey and talk about leaving the label. Motown argued that the group recorded the song while still under their Motown contract. A 1975 court decision eventually ended in the Isleys' favour. Ron has mixed emotions about the Motown days, but is grateful for everything they learned there that stood them in good stead to run their own T-Neck label and steer their own career. And for the friends they made and still have, such as Stevie Wonder."

    Ron and The Isleys seldom talk about Motown in any interview. They clearly moved on many many years ago, and given their enormous subsequent success as independent funk / soul trio / sextet/ performers / composers/ label owners, didn't feel the need to discuss the Motown period, where they had no input nor control. In one interview I heard Ron reference their time at Motown, saying they wanted to do their own thing, and were inspired by a rougher sound as captured by Johnnie Taylor and 'Who's Making Love'. They originally opened TNeck label in 1964, dormant whilst at Motown until they left in 1968, and released their album 'Get Into Something' on TNeck in 1969. This was completely written and produced by the Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly, only an arranger George Patterson contributed, otherwise all home grown.
    Thanks for posting this interesting bit. This is the first time hearing that the Isley Brothers did a version of Grapevine or that Reach Out was intended for them as well. And who owns the publishing rights to It's Your Thing? DFTMC lists the song as a Jobete song... And wasn't it Brenda Holloway who wrote in her good bye letter to Berry Gordy where one of her issues was artists who were signed to the label after her but still were given two album releases?

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Jarvis View Post
    "What Becomes of The Broken Hearted" was issued in 2009, a Double CD of the Isleys Motown-50 is incredible . Checkout "My Love Is Your Love Forever"

    Unbelievable that you can pick up this CD on Ebay for £8.99 & £10.00.
    There are "Forty Two" unissued tracks of the fifty two on the two CD's. With a few from the 9'T's the rest from 2005-2009

    Paul Nixon did the research for the project & the sleevenotes.

    Name:  DSC_1455.jpg
Views: 571
Size:  88.4 KB
    This anthology provided me with the most excitement - probably my favourite Motown group - the one that got me into it all - take a listen to I Can't Go On Sharing Your Love - wow..

  43. #43
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    The Anthology set is a real achievement. I am pleased that the mono versions of the albums were used as we already had the stereo twofer of the albums. The mono mix of Whispers Getting Louder is superb and the guitar work perhaps gave a foretaste of what was to come when the group left Motown.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by rovereab View Post
    The Anthology set is a real achievement. I am pleased that the mono versions of the albums were used as we already had the stereo twofer of the albums. The mono mix of Whispers Getting Louder is superb and the guitar work perhaps gave a foretaste of what was to come when the group left Motown.
    The mono mixes were chosen especially for that reason

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEW-UK View Post
    Ron Isley interview from Blues and Soul Magazine. His statements as to the Motown experience. http://www.bluesandsoul.com/feature/...e_names_isley/

    "I'm so thankful for my history and so proud of my past. I also feel blessed to be able to change and to come up with new things. I think this record's going to make some history. I want everything I do to try to make some more history.
    We talk about the famed Motown days of course, and Ron tells me an astounding fact about why they left in 1968. "We did a lot of records there and a lot of people were jealous of our success, and complained to Berry Gordy that we were getting all the better songs. He took the records off us and gave them to other people. I first did the record Grapevine that Marvin did. He took it off me and gave it to Smokey, and he didn't do it that well. Then Gladys Knight came along and she did a different version of it. Later on Marvin did the same version that I had done. The same thing happened with the Four Tops. One of the records they were doing was Reach Out. We had it first. That was one of the reasons we were angry enough to say; hey man, we don't want to be doing this any more. We want to be doing our own thing. Then we came out and did This Old Heart Of Mine and that hit right away. Holland Dozier were so crazy about us, as all our records were hits. Then we left and Holland Dozier left, and that started the thing at Motown when everyone wanted to leave. The Temptations wanted to go, the different producers were leaving after we left. Then we did 'It's Your Thing' on our own label T-Neck, and we were sued by Motown. I don't know why he sued us. He believed that was one of the songs Holland and Dozier wrote, and we said he must be crazy. Friends of ours still at Motown would come to our house in New Jersey and talk about leaving the label. Motown argued that the group recorded the song while still under their Motown contract. A 1975 court decision eventually ended in the Isleys' favour. Ron has mixed emotions about the Motown days, but is grateful for everything they learned there that stood them in good stead to run their own T-Neck label and steer their own career. And for the friends they made and still have, such as Stevie Wonder."

    Ron and The Isleys seldom talk about Motown in any interview. They clearly moved on many many years ago, and given their enormous subsequent success as independent funk / soul trio / sextet/ performers / composers/ label owners, didn't feel the need to discuss the Motown period, where they had no input nor control. In one interview I heard Ron reference their time at Motown, saying they wanted to do their own thing, and were inspired by a rougher sound as captured by Johnnie Taylor and 'Who's Making Love'. They originally opened TNeck label in 1964, dormant whilst at Motown until they left in 1968, and released their album 'Get Into Something' on TNeck in 1969. This was completely written and produced by the Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly, only an arranger George Patterson contributed, otherwise all home grown.
    Thank you for posting this interview! This, as well as all the comments others have made is EXACTLY what I was hoping for. It just seems the time the Brothers were at Motown has always been somewhat murky and vague.

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by paul_nixon View Post
    The mono mixes were chosen especially for that reason
    I was absolutely elated to find that the albums were both the mono mixes. That was as big of a happy, unexpected surprise as getting the mind-blowing 2 sets of Marvelettes albums and extras. Did I read it somewhere- the liner notes with the CD set, or someone's comments here that the mono version of "Soul On The Rocks" was something specifically mixed for the UK market? I never could find a mono mix of the album here in the US, so I wondered if there even was a mono American LP. At any rate, I'm so appreciative for this set and your research was incredibly thorough.

  47. #47
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    I also like the two stereo mixes of This Old Heart and There's No Love Left where the levels of the instruments is the same as the mono mixes. Normally the stereo mixes have a different balance to the instrumentation which can spoil the song for me. A stereo mix with the same "balance" as the mono mix is a revelation.

  48. #48
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    Great thread.

  49. #49
    They may only have made two LPs, but when you're an Isleys fan, well....... these are my CDs. I'm sure you understand.

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    I would always feel a thrill when I used to play Motown Disco Classics Vol. 2 on LP - the 'Non-Stop' one with the 'M' cut out and that 'gold' paper poster inside that for some reason absorbed your fingerprints. When 'There's No Stopping Us Now' ended, the fuzz guitar of 'Got To Have You Back' immediately kicked in. Pure Ivy Hunter magic! It's so true that the Isley Brothers never made a bad side at Hitsville.

  50. #50
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    Have to agree with you TBF, The Isley's never mada bad record with Motown - those gospel tinged backing harmonies are enough to give you the goosebumps - and I always listen through headphones - it's a magical experience.

    Your photo has reminded me that I still haven't added the "Behind A Painted Smile" CD [[top left) to my collection I think - isn't that on a Tamla label? There's also one on Charly which I've not got. I have all the other CDs on the photo [[plus others) but have yet to upload the "Classic Tracks" CD [[bottom right) to my Flickr site. You can see the Isley's albums and CDs [[Motown period) here - I don't now have any Isley's vinyl having sold almost all vinyl in 2018.

    See here https://www.flickr.com/photos/cookep...77720304362491

    The UK 2fer of around 2001 is well worth acquiring as the mastering and artwork is great plus there are 3 bonus sides added for completeness. See all artwork here:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/cookep...57713547573526

    For a long time I wasn't sure how to title the group - Isley Bros, The Isley Bros, Isley Brothers or The Isley Brothers. I just stick to The Isley Brothers these days.

    For the record my Top 5 fave tracks would be
    1 - "There's No Love Left"
    2 - "I Cant Go On Sharing Your Love"
    3 - "Got To Have You Back"
    4 - "All Because I Love You"
    5 - "Why When Love Is Gone"

    I'm inclined to believe Ron Isley about the tracks passed on to others - I can really hear them singing "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and would love to have it, if it were possible. Less sure about "Reach Out" though.

    On a final thought, The Isley's were perhaps just too good for Motown [[at least for that time when so much was happening there).

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