OK, we know this isn't a true 'quiet storm' album, but when we asked Andy he just said 'Well, some of it's quiet, and there's a storm on it!' so we left it at that.
We did ask him if he really intended to release an album of Motown covers, and he told us this:
'No. Although the Isley Brothers spent three years at Tamla Motown - during which time they recorded the 1966 classic This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You) - they had already had hits on other labels, notably with their own song Shout! in 1959 - memorably covered in the UK for her debut single in 1964 by 15 year old Scottish singing sensation Lulu - and a cover of the Topnotes' Twist and Shout - best known, perhaps, from the Beatles' version on Please Please Me, also a hit in 1964 when released as as a single in the US.
'The Isleys had first formed a band in 1954 - the year of my birth, as it happens - and had been gigging with a Seattle guitarist by the name of Jimmy James, who was, just a few years later, to embark on a successful solo career under his own name: Jimi Hendrix.
'Anyway, to get to the point - many believe that the Isleys' most enduring work came after they split with Berry Gordy, and released records on their own T-Neck label for Buddah and Epic. There must have been upwards of 40 covers of Jim Seals and Dash Crofts' Summer Breeze, but the Isleys' is the only one I've ever heard, so that's the one I was influenced by.
'I remember when Tracks of My Tears first came out, and it's been on of my favourite songs ever since. I didn't need to be told that it was Number 50 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time - in fact, it should have been higher. And I've always wanted to record it like this, as a guitar song. In fact, it was the Miracles' guitarist Marv Tarplin who came up with the idea, and singers Smokey and Pete Moore helped finish it off - so it was really a guitar number all along.
'Ooh Baby Baby, of course, is another Smokey Robinson song. Coincidentally, both Tracks of My Tears and Ooh Baby Baby - their previous single, also released in 1965 - reached the same position, Number 16, on the Billboard Hot 100, and both were covered by Linda Ronstadt. Not entirely coincidence, as I like her versions as well, and these are my two favourite Miracles songs. Not their most successful, by the way: Tears of a Clown - co-written by Smokey, Hank Cosby and Stevie Wonder - from the band's 1967 album Make It Happen - became their first Number 1 in 1970, eclipsed only by 1976's Love Machine (Part 1), another Number 1 hit, which was recorded after Smokey himself had left the band.
'Both the Isleys AND the Miracles had recorded versions of Heard it through the Grapevine before it was given to Marvin Gaye by producer Norman Whitfield, who had written the song with partner Barrett Strong. Both versions were rejected by Berry Gordy - as was Gaye's. A fourth version, by Gladys Knight and the Pips was accepted for release and became Motown's biggest selling single to date, reaching Number 2 in the US Pop charts in 1967. Whitfield still preferred the Marvin Gaye version, and arranged for it be included on Gaye's 1968 album In the Groove. It proved the most popular track on the album, and after pressure from DJ's, was released as a single. It remained at Number 1 for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969, sales eclipsing the previous version, which delighted everyone at Motown - except Gladys Knight and the Pips! A new recording by the Miracles' was released on their 1968 album Special Occasions, and their original version on a compilation Motown Sings Motown Treasures in 2004, but the Isleys' has yet to see the light of day.
The Pips were unable to equal the success of Heard it through the Grapevine until their 1972 Number 2 Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye). Like the Isleys before them, they had to depart to Buddah for their greatest single hit, Midnight Train to Georgia. Grapevine, meanwhile, received the rock treatment by Creedance Clearwater Revival in 1970. This version doesn't follow that arrangement, although it is, surprisingly, several minutes longer.'
Summer Breeze (Seals/Crofts) (13:25)
Tracks of My Tears (Moore/Robinson/Tarplin) (14:07)
Ooh Baby Baby (Moore/Robinson) (19:46)
Heard It Through the Grapevine (Whitfield/Strong) (15:12)
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