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Non-Prog DVD/Video Reviews

The Isley Brothers

Summer Breeze - Greatest Hits Live DVD

Review by Gary Hill

I came at this one with a slightly blasé approach. I mean, I had heard the name, and knew that I had heard one or two of the band's songs. I couldn't have named them for you. Frankly, when I was growing up I was a metal and progressive rock guy - and anything before 60's psychedelia was out of the question - as was Motown R & B. Well, as I've gotten older my tastes have gotten more diverse and I've learned to enjoy both a lot of older music (although I still can't tolerate doo wop and that lot) and varying styles. R & B, when done well - I've learned - can be good. So, considering the legend of the Isley Brothers, I wanted to check this one out, but I also expected it to be a retro rehash - probably very entertaining, but not great. Was I ever surprised! I have to say, these guys ROCK!

As you watch this video you will recognize a lot of the music. That's partly because there are incredibly legendary songs that the outfit wrote ("Shout" and "Twist and Shout" for example) but partly because they covered a lot of songs - in some cases recording the version that becomes the one everyone recognizes ("Summer Breeze" is one). The thing is, though, this doesn't come across as some oldies show. The music here is vital and powerful. It rocks out, but still maintains that old school R & B cool that I've grown to appreciate. These guys know how to put on a show that really entertains, too - not stingy with staging and back up singers, dancers, etc. They are entertainers in the most real sense of the word - and it shows.

The video itself is top notch, being both visually and audibly clear and strong. The menu is easy to navigate and top notch. There are interview segments with the two remaining Brothers of the band, and those are great, too. They show that these men are grounded and yet understand the impact that their sound has had on music. They acknowledge the contribution in terms of influencing other artists that they have had, but yet they are humble about it. As Ernie says songs like "Shout" belong to the world. He says that although they may have written the song and done it first, they are universal songs that belong to everyone. Now, that is humility.

Whether you have always been a fan of this outfit, or you have never really heard them, this one is a must have. I find it hard that enjoys good mainstream rock and R & B would not appreciate this. There probably is no better introduction to this legendary group. I will tell you that I'm hooked now. Just wish I had discovered these guys a long time ago.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

 
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