The Isley Brothers’ 1969 album It’s Our Thing has been remastered and reissued by Iconoclassic Records. The group’s signature hit “It’s Your Thing” has remained popular for over forty years. What has been largely forgotten are the other worthwhile tunes that make the entire album worth hearing. The album’s title carries a touch of irony, as “their thing” was clearly an amalgam of the styles of other pioneering artists of the day. But that doesn’t make the music any less enjoyable.
The ten tracks were all original collaborations by Ronald, Rudolph, and O’Kelly Isley. Following several years as part of the Motown machine, the Isleys had emerged with a new sound. Their approach was heavily influenced by the funk of James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone. With the exception of a few ballads, the music on It’s Our Thing is all about thick grooves with elastic bass lines and percussive horn accents. Ronald Isley’s voice is perhaps the most underrated of his generation, and he’s in fine form throughout.
The Godfather of Soul himself was listening closely. After “It’s Your Thing” became a massive hit, James Brown fired back with “It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who To Sock It To),” which he wrote and produced for Marva Whitney. The similarities were strong enough that Brown was forced to share writing credits for “It’s My Thing” with the Isleys. The James Brown influence was strong throughout, with “Give the Women What They Want” coming off like a cross between “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “Cold Sweat.” But the playing and singing are strong enough to allow the music to stands on its own.
The album’s lead-off track, “I Know Who You Been Socking It To,” is another highlight, a boisterous jam that rivals the better known “It’s Your Thing.” Of the ballads, “Feel Like the World” burns brightest, with searing lead vocal. The other ballads are a bit generic, typical for the genre at that time.
The entire album clocks in at a very brisk 27 minutes. There aren’t any bonus tracks included on the album. As for the remastering, considering its age the album sounds decent. As explained in the CD booklet, the two closing tracks (“Don’t Give It Away” and “He’s Got Your Love”) were taken from a vinyl source due to badly damaged master tapes. These songs blend in just fine with the rest of the album. Give the bass a boost and crank the volume. It’s Our Thing is classic funky soul and Iconoclassic Records should be commended for reissuing it.