"Isley Brothers 3.51"; they called themselves "Isley Brothers 3+3", and it was the title of their first LP, from 1973. Version 3 was the funky group, most famous for the classic "It's Your Thing" 45 from 1969. They had resurrected their family-run label T-Neck (as in Teaneck, New Jersey), and scored a distribution deal with CBS. 3+3 was the reinvention of the Isleys as a rock band, with singers Ronnie, Kelly, and Rudolph officially adding little brother Marvin on bass, cousin Chris Jasper on keyboards, and, The Secret Weapon, little brother Ernie, on Hendrixian lead guitar. Ernie also played drums on the albums.

The biggest hit from the LP was "That Lady", a reworking of "Who's That Lady", done originally by Isleys 2.0 around 1964; "That Lady" gained radio airplay in its edited, non-jamming version. This was another classic, a melding of the church-grown vocal harmonies of the Elder 3 with the conga-driven latin rock of the Younger 3. Showbiz politics being what they were/are, the band had to carefully straddle the rock and rhythm and blues divides, resulting in great, innovative stuff on the one hand, and execrable nonsense like "soulful" covers of material like Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze" on the other. The dichotomy predated 3+3 and would continue for a few more years, before they decided to finally land in R&B-ville.

At their best, the Isleys and Funkadelic were worthy successors to the Band of Gypsys, but the "black rock" thread would end up lying fairly dormant until the advent of the Black Rock Coalition (with bands like Living Colour) in the 80s.

They stayed together for ten more albums, over the space of a decade, some highlights were "Fight the Power", from 1975's The Heat Is On (later featured in Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing), "Take Me to the Next Phase", from 1978's Showdown, and a large chunk of Go for Your Guns, from 1977. After the band broke up, the younger half worked together for a while as Isley Jasper Isley, recording three albums in R&B-ville.

And, of course "3+3" equals 6, no matter what Big Brother might try to tell you - I see he's already gotten you to believe that thing about "2+2".

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