Album Review: Power of Peace by The Isley Brothers
Fairly Good, Based on 6 Critics
Record Collector - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Culled from a four-day recording session last year that generated 16 songs, Power Of Peace is a rather splendid late career pairing for both Carlos Santana and Ronnie and Ernie Isley. Power Of Peace locks into a loose groove reminiscent of the Isleys' peak-period T-Neck recordings in the early to mid-70s. The opening salvo of The Chambers Brothers' Are You Ready, Swamp Dogg's Total Destruction To Your Mind and Stevie's Higher Ground is exhilarating: there is no letting up.
Supergroup pairings rarely work. Either there are too many egos involved or the magic promised on paper doesn't materialize because there are too many cooks in the kitchen, or record label and managerial bluster get in the way of actual spontaneity. That's not the case with Power of Peace, delivered by the Santana and Isley families in a Las Vegas studio without prior rehearsal.
This iconic pairing is full of inspired jams: Swamp Dogg's 1970 "Total Destruction to Your Mind" morphs from a Sly Stone workout into a Funkadelic guitar display, and Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" gains heavy-metal bulk. But while Carlos Santana's guitar shines - Ernie Isley's, too - 76-year-old Ron is the lodestar, donning a falsetto smoking jacket for the Eddie Kendricks proto-disco "Body Talk," and investing Bacharach-David's corny "What the World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love" with fresh gravitas. .
Surely only a churl would baulk at the sentiments presented on the title of this pairing of titans whose reputations were forged in the heady days of the 1960s? While the Isleys are in fine voice throughout, and Carlos Santana's mastery of his instrument remains as idiosyncratic as ever, your enjoyment of this collection of covers (and one new song) will rather depend on your relationship with the originals. The winners prove to be the moments where the participants hold back on the bombast to groove. Billie Holliday's God Bless This Child is silky smooth.
Yes, it's true. The Isley Brothers and Santana, two of music's most sustaining acts, have decided to record an album together. The result is Power of Peace, a declaration of global love that collects a dozen soulful covers and one original, "I Remember", featuring vocals from Santana's wife and the band's drummer, Cindy Blackman Santana. The Isley Brothers are one of the most important bands in the development of rock, funk, soul, and hip-hop.
It's a risky proposition when two established artists with very distinctive styles collaborate on a project. Sometimes it works. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong had very different approaches to recording a song, but they were sensitive enough to listen carefully to each other, and find ways to create music that reflected both of their strengths.