Summer Breeze

I imagine we’re all finding some kind(s) of silver lining(s), somewhere, within our current moment. One of mine has been the discovery of cover versions of favorite songs that I had no idea existed. My last post addressed one such discovery. While Hall and Oates’ cover of Ooh Child, by The Five Stairsteps, wasn’t drastically different, musically–it was a few tweaks to the lyrics that stood out for me–the difference in this pairing is much more striking.

Seals and Crofts released their album Summer Breeze in August of 1972. The title cut was an immensely pleasing–to this writer, anyway–soft rock tune, and it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart here in the U.S.

Until one of my recent ‘quarantine walks’, I’d been blissfully unaware that, almost exactly one year after Seals and Crofts’ paean to breezes blowing through jasmine first appeared on vinyl, the Isley Brothers released a cover on their album 3+3. (The title refers to the original iteration of the Isley Brothers–Ronald, O’Kelly and Rudolph–being joined by Ernie and Marvin, as well as their cousin Chris Jasper).

Not only is the Isley’s version of Summer Breeze nearly twice as long (6:12 vs. 3:25), it has a very different feel: it has more edge, more soul. And while we hear electric guitar in the original, Ernie Isley takes it front and center, culminating in a solo that begins at 3:50 and then turns into a blistering outro at around 4:15.

Regular readers of this blog may (or may not) recall that I have been transfixed by many an electric guitar solo over the years…I always struggle to convey the effect that powerful, sustained, bent notes have on me, and always feel that I come up woefully short. (Past attempts at celebrating great guitar lines are here, here, here, and here.) I can only hope that others might listen to what I write about and think, “Yup, I get it.”

I love these versions equally…in different ways. See what you think.

See the curtains hangin’ in the window, in the evenin’ on a Friday night
A little light a-shinin’ through the window, lets me know everything is alright

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

See the paper layin’ in the sidewalk, a little music from the house next door
So I walked on up to the doorstep, through the screen and across the floor

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine’s in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
And I come home from a hard day’s work
And you’re waiting there, not a care in the world
See the smile a-waitin’ in the kitchen, food cookin’ and the plates for two
Feel the arms that reach out to hold me, in the evening when the day is through

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind


Trivia tidbit: Ernie Isley’s first appearance on a recording with his brothers, playing bass, was this classic; he was just 16 years old. It’s impossible for me to remain still when I hear this…always has been, always will be.

6 comments

  • Oh yeah!! Summer Breeze is now remembered with pleasure. I definitely vote for the Seals and Crofts version, probably because that’s the one I remember hearing.

    I’ll forward this blog to Joe and get a second opinion from someone who probably played it many, many times with his original group in NYC.

    Hearing this brought back memories of riding to high school with my best friend, Billie Lee Sauls. My parents had moved us from Tampa to Tallahassee (my senior year, if you can believe that) and were building a house. Meanwhile, we were living in the Kinsey Motel far from town on the Jacksonville Highway. Billie Lee would pick me up on the other side of the highway, music playing and singing all the way as she drove us to Leon High School. It my first experience hearing someone sing who was truly tone deaf. And it didn’t bother her one whit. She was an outgoing, gregarious, popular little darling who loved singing—totally off key—in the car. I could never understand how she did it. She is my one friend from those pre-college years with whom I remained in touch.

    Thanks for the fun memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Have to admit to not being a fan of the original, so pleasantly surprised by the Isley’s version. A little more funky, a little less, er… breezy. Ernie’s solo is goosebumpy–more fiery yearning than jasminey waftiness. Terrific enough to mangle a few descriptors.

    Liked by 1 person

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