Enough of this singin’…let’s make luuuuuuuv!
This line, delivered (uttered? mumbled?) by Ron Isley 2/3 of the way into “Between The Sheets,” sums up the purpose of this song without the extra five minutes and thirty-five seconds attached to that line.
But you NEED that extra five minutes and thirty-five seconds. Recorded as a response to Marvin Gaye’s epochal “Sexual Healing”, “Sheets” is a sensual masterpiece (not as good as the song that inspired it, but can you name many songs better than “Sexual Healing”?) And it would be influential enough as the sensual masterpiece it was, but then consider three things:
One-it was the title track of the last album recorded by The Isley Brothers’ classic “3+3″ period. Chris Jasper, Marvin Isley and Ernie Isley officially joined Ron, Rudolph and Kelly in the early ‘70s, and were credited with changing the band’s sound to make them the rock/soul giants they became. Feeling increasingly stifled, the younger trio jumped ship in late ‘83, splitting the band in two. The remaining brothers made one album before Kelly passed away in 1986. There’s never been an official reunion (and Marvin has also since passed away).
Two-”Between The Sheets” has proven wildly influential. Not only did it help set a template for slow jams in the ‘80s, but it has been sampled arguably more than any other ‘80s song in existence, I can think of two songs off the top of my head that base their music on a loop of “Between The Sheets.”
Three-The Isleys were, up till 1983 at least, a pretty conventional soul band. “Between The Sheets” was mostly synthesized, and felt ahead of the curve (or right on the curve) for the electronic revolution in black music. It’s immediately recognizable to multiple generations.
Bottom line: a fucking great song, and a great fucking song (and you can take “fucking” to mean whatever you want it to in this context.) Hell, even the way Ron Isley pronounces the word “freak” in verse 2 will send a charge right to your libido.