Under the covers

I hit the used record store the other day, but I was on the clock.

I was traveling with my dad, who doesn’t get around all that well. Fortunately, it was a sunny winter day, and he was cool with waiting in the car while I ducked into the Book Cellar for a few minutes to check out the vinyl in the basement.

The great thing about the Book Cellar is that it’s well organized by genre and most everything is in alphabetical order. So I went right to the soul/R&B/funk and started digging.

I came up with “Givin’ It Back,” by the Isley Brothers, a 1971 album of covers. Most of the tunes are familiar and the Isleys’ vocal and guitar work is outstanding as always. As is the work of their backing band.

The Wikipedia entry on this album rather curiously casts the Isleys’ decision to cover tunes by Bob Dylan, James Taylor and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young as a black/white thing. As in, white guys are covering our tunes, so we’re covering theirs. Could be, but I’m skeptical.

However, Mojo’s Andrew Male said last month that the Isley Brothers “give masterclasses in the art of the soul cover of the white pop hit” on this album. Most of his comments, however, are directed toward Side 1.

In any case, enjoy Side 2, with covers of tunes by Eric Burdon and War, Bill Withers and Stephen Stills. Withers plays lead guitar on his “Cold Bologna” with Ernie Isley on rhythm guitar.


“Spill the Wine,” “Nothing To Do But Today,” “Cold Bologna” and “Love the One You’re With,” the Isley Brothers, from “Givin’ It Back,” 1971. It runs 16:35.

Explore posts in the same categories: March 2008

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2 Comments on “Under the covers”

  1. whiteray Says:

    Nice stuff . . . an album I’m going to have to dig for, somehow! Thanks, Jeff!

  2. Chronwell Says:

    Brilliant folksy funk rock here! This is one of my favorite Islets albums!I dont think the Isleys were tryin to humble the whiteboys, they were just doin their normal thing covering some of the cooler tunes of the day. Would it have made sense for them to cover black bands who were on the same radio formats and concert stages as them? look at it as early alternative rock!

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