Monday, June 7, 2010

Marvin Isley

I just read that Marvin Isley, bass player for the Isley Brothers, died today. While this is sad news, especially since the brother was only 56, it does provide a fantastic opportunity to highlight one of my favorite funk/rock albums of all time, 3+3. 

After leaving Motown and starting their own label, T-Neck records, the Isley Brothers added two guitar playing little brothers, Marvin and Ernie, and their pianoman cousin Chris Jasper. The Isley's had been making hits since the late fifties, but the youthful funk of their younger siblings made 3+3 something special.
Doubt it? Check out "Who's That Lady" and peep Ernie's soaring Hendrix-inspired* guitar riffs being perfectly balanced by Marvin's funky bass lines. Trust me, you need this album in your life.


*It's not widely known that Jimi Hendrix actually played with the Isley's back in the day before he hit it big in rock. From Rickey Vincent's Funk: The Music, The People, and The Rhythm of the One:

Hendrix wound up in Harlem in late 1963 looking for lead guitarist gigs in an R&B act. He was picked up when Ronnie Isley went to the Palm Cafe looking for a lead guitarist for an upcoming Isley Brothers tour of Bermuda.
Hendrix thrived in the Isley Brothers band, performing his wild stage show, licking the air, biting his guitar, wearing loud bandanas, and getting the most out of his solos. He made $30 a night and didn't complain. 

Check him out on the group's mid-60 release, Testify Parts 1+2.