Tuesday, May 6, 2003

Classic '3+3' shows great soul band
in its prime

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

In 1973, when the Isleys cut 3+3, they were R&B's all-star team, with enough depth in their lineup to do anything. With veteran Isleys Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly joined by younger brothers Ernie and Marvin on guitar and bass, respectively, and Rudolph's brother-in-law Chris Jasper on keyboards (including those weird new synthesizers) they took on some of the most unlikely material ever played by soul band and made it their own.

The big hit here is "That Lady," the classic funk-rock raveup that showcased Ernie' blazing guitar. The song opens and closes the set, the last being a live bonus track. But it's the odd, '70s hippie-rock that makes 3+3 such a joyous surprise.

The Isleys had a hit with Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze," as Ronald's soaring tenor and Ernie's Hendrix-inspired guitar squeezed every drop of soul out of the song.

Heard here, it remains an impressive feat. But they go even further on this long out-of-print set, working the same magic on James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," the Doobies' "Listen to the Music" and even Jonathan Edwards' laid-back country-folk tune, "Sunshine (Go Away Today)."

This is a masterful soul band in its prime, on an album that sounds even better today, when real soul is a lost art, than it did 30 years ago.

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Classic '3+3' shows great soul band in its prime
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