Written by 5:30 am Audiophile Music

Sweet Soul Reissues: Vintage Isley Brothers & Impressions Albums Find New Life

Mark Smotroff discovers some vintage rock ‘n soul LP reissues without breaking the bank for original pressings.

Think about it: without this 1959 release by The Isley Brothers on RCA Records — Shout! — we might never have had the joy of seeing the imaginary soul review Otis Day and the Knights perform it on film for eternity in National Lampoon’s Animal House in the late 70s, ensuring the song’s status as rock anthem for the ages. Shout has been played by countless bands over the years from Bruce Springsteen to The Beatles.

AR-IsleyBrothers.jpgYet I’m willing to bet a vast majority of you haven’t really heard the original song and even more of you haven’t heard or even seen a copy of the original album. I mean, I hadn’t heard the album in its entirety until i recently discovered a new reissue of this long out-out-of-print collectors item selling for a mere $10 — brand new, sealed! This looks like a real release, not a pirate or dubious “gray market” release, replete with high quality original cover art and period accurate black “Nipper” RCA label. My copy is stereo, even though it doesn’t have the Living Stereo banner across the top as some original pressings apparently had.

I’ll live.

The package does not indicate as such but I’m willing to bet that this thick, quiet and well pressed album is close to 180-gram, if not exactly. Like the picture of the band on the cover, I am happy to have this groovy slab of rock and roll history in my collection now. Especially since original pressings have commonly commanded high prices on the collectors market putting it out of reach for what I’d be willing to pay — there are copies up on eBay going for $100-150! But for $10 – 15 (which you can find on eBay and Amazon) I’m totally down with it.

AR-IsleyBrothersNipperLabel.jpgThis is a fun album of early post-Buddy Holly rock ‘n roll served up in fine spirited fashion by the band; amazing to think that this is the same Isley Brothers who later went on to be soul/funk pioneers with their smash Grammy winning hit “It’s Your Thing” in 1969. The influence of this band is not to be understated. Think about it: The Beatles played Shout early in their careers and their hit version of The Isley Brother’s follow up hit, “Twist & Shout” helped seal their early success and appeal, their version considered by many to be a rock & roll landmark.

Now I have to find a reissue of The Isley’s Twist & Shout album!

Check Out Your Mind is the last album by The Impressions with Curtis Mayfield still in the group. With Curtis writing and producing all the tunes, its fair to say that the writing was on the wall for the man to start his solo career — some of the tracks certainly sound like a Curtis Mayfield record, what with its slinky grooves and impassioned lyrics ‘n all.

AR-Impressions.jpgThe thing that is great about this this reissue is that it enables us who missed this great music the first time around to get these sweet soulful sounds into our collections for a very fair price and in pristine condition. You see, as I have been going deep on collecting vintage soul albums and singles in recent years I can attest to the fact that it is often difficult to find original pressings in good condition. I mean, a lot of these albums were primo party records so they got played a whole lot. Thus getting this nice reissue (manufactured by Rhino, according to the little white sticker on the back of the shrink wrap) bearing an original “Curtom” label and with high quality period accurate cover art make this a winner. Tracks like “Say You Love Me” and “We Must Be In Love” are classic Mayfield melodies, making this an essential — if transitional period — for fans of the man’s music.

Sweet stuff! For $10, you really can’t go wrong.

Mark Smotroff is a freelance writer and avid music collector who has worked for many years in marketing communications for the consumer electronics, pro audio and video games industries, serving clients including DTS, Sega, Sony, Sharp, AT&T and many others. www.smotroff.com Mark has written for EQ Magazine, Mix Magazine, Goldmine/DISCoveries Magazine, BigPictureBigSound.com, Sound+Vision Magazine and HomeTechTell.com. He is also a musician / composer whose songs have been used in TV shows such as Smallville and Men In Trees as well as films and documentaries. www.ingdom.com Mark is currently rolling out a new musical he’s written: www.dialthemusical.com.

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