#15: The Isley Brothers 'Between the Sheets'

Isleysheets.jpgIt's not like we haven't already waxed poetic about the brothers Isley during the course of this countdown. It simply goes without saying that "Between the Sheets" is their most popular joint, strictly by virtue of the generations introduced to the track via the various songs that have sampled it. The list is long. We can start with The Notorious B.I.G., Da Brat and Keith Murray who all used it the same year for extremely well-received singles. The most recent uses were by Gwen Stefani for "Luxurious" and Jay-Z's "Ignorant Sh!t." The track never goes out of style and almost guarantees a hit song.

Not unlike Marvin's "Sexual Healing," "Between the Sheets" is straightforward without being tacky; it's sensual and deliberate and is about making love as opposed to simply knockin' the boots. And even when Ron croons "I'll always be your freak," it's playful and teasing as opposed to crass. When we think of classic R&B music and what makes a song important to the culture, we often only include songs with significant social or political content, overlooking the babymaking music that brought many of us into this world. The reason these songs are just as important is that they celebrate physical love in a manner that grown folks can appreciate without feeling guilty after the fact. The classic Isleys conveyed this with great panache and this is possibly why so many artists that followed looked to it to fortify their own hits.

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The Isley Brothers: "Between the Sheets"

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