Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Isley Brothers: Timeless [T-Neck, 1978]
The Isleys are one of the great music-business success stories--in a decade when the artists were supposed to take over the industry, they're one of the few (along with Jefferson Lear Jet) to make a go of their own label. But though T-Neck puts out excellent product, product is all it is. This two-LP compilation, in which their Buddah-distributed material reverts to the Isleys' company (it's virtually identical to Buddah's 1976 The Best . . . package), reminds us that even back when they were inventing their shtick they were also victims of it. The only great songs are "It's Your Thing" and "Work to Do"; they reuse the same harmonies and dynamics again and again. The Isleys to own, probably--but there's no doubt you can live without it. B+