Throwback Thursday: The Isley Brothers Share “World Series”–A Smoky, Unreleased Studio Outtake Ca. 1980 [OKP Premiere]

zo Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers…
Vibe To A Never-Heard Groove From The Isley Brothers

Vibe To A Never-Heard Groove From The Isley Brothers
Photo courtesy of Sony Legacy Recordings

By 1980, The Isley Brothers had already seen 10-straight chart-topping records, all classics in their own right. Former hippies had donned neck-ties and the disco that filled the dance halls and radios of the late ’70s was beginning to transform itself into a more sophisticated strut, doing away with four-to-the-floor anthems and ushering in the infancy of hip-hop (all of which would later take them in as a foundational building block in the sampling tradition).

But with creative differences looming, their much slept-on ’81 release Grand Slam was gearing up to be one of the final outings for the original six members, three of which would go on to form Isley-Jasper-Isley after the platinum selling, now iconic Between The Sheets LP in 1983–with only marginal success as a boogie-drenched splinter group that no longer included its howling lead vocalist.

Flash forward to 2015, and the subsequent waves of music have only underscored our reverence for the Isleys. Which makes the fact that we’re only just getting to hear the musical wizardry that took place in the sessions leading up to Grand Slam an exciting development and a gap in funk history satisfyingly filled. These sessions comprise a cornerstone recording on the tail-end of The Isleys’ time with T-Neck Records, quickly coming to a close as the band’s tensions escalated and fractured the six-man foundation. Thanks to the good folks at Sony Legacy, we are being gifted an exclusive lens into the formidable and, of course, very funky late T-Neck years with this Okayplayer premiere of a never-before-heard studio jam from the Grand Slam sessions, aptly dubbed “World Series,” which will be included on the expansive forthcoming box-set The RCA Victor and T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983) on August 21st.

“World Series” is the sort of endearing, sweat & sex-soaked r&b that late ’70s masters like Marvin Gaye had been wielding at the time, anchored by keyboardist Chris Jaspers’ rhodes-y silk groove and sensual scatting, backed by a mid-tempo shuffle from drummer Everett Collins and percussive punctuation from Koko Jones on congas. Die-hards will recognize the groove from its later incarnation as the backbone for the sensual album cut “Tonight Is The Night (If I Had You),” but this studio outtake is the very first time you will hear that magic at work. And we couldn’t be happier to share it with you as a motherlode of a throwback on this particular Thursday. Listen to earliest stages of that cut on The Isley Brothers’ “World Series” below and pre-order the anxiously anticipated box-set on Amazon today. 

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