SONG: Shout (Parts 1 & 2)
ARTIST: The Isley Brothers
Listen to it here:
Shout (Part 1 and 2) were written and recorded by the Isley Brothers in 1959. During their performances the previous year, the original 3 Isleys would end their set with “Lonely Teardrops” by Jackie Wilson. At a show in Philadelphia they noticed the audience got up and started dancing, so lead singer Ronald incorporated a gospel-inspired call and response and added “you know you make me wanna…shout!” It eventually evolved into its own separate song during rehearsals and they talked their producers into recording it, bringing in friends and family for more of a responsive, “party” atmosphere. The song was split in 2 on the A and B sides of the album (hence Part 1 and 2). It was the Isley’s first charting hit and eventually reached gold status.
The Isley Brothers are a group of mostly actual brothers from Cincinnati, Ohio, originally consisting of brothers O’Kelly, Rudolph and Ronald in the 1950s, adding fourth brother Vernon until his untimely passing. The trio saw their first taste of success in 1959 with their hit single “Shout”. The 1960s were generally quiet for the trio and they moved their operation to New Jersey, where they enjoyed Isley’s 2nd wave of huge success starting in 1969 with “It’s Your Thing”, which ended up being their 2nd million selling single and earned them a Grammy award. The 1970s saw other brothers Ernie and Marvin and Rudolph’s brother-in-law Chris Jasper join the group and they released hit after hit album – Brother, Brother, Brother; 3+3, Go For Your Guns, and Showdown.
The 1980s were when health problems started to plague the members – O’Kelly died of a heart attack, Marvin had his legs amputated due to diabetes complications and had to retire. Rudy retired to join the ministry, leaving Ernie and Ron as the sole Isleys, so they changed their name to Isley-Jasper-Isley. Although the Isley’s output was more modest in the 1980s and 1990s, they still saw a generous amount of success and exposure through their songs being sampled by heavyweight rappers including Ice Cube and Notorious B.I.G. The Isley’s have released music as recently as September, 2022.
In 1964 the Isley Brothers’ lead guitar player was none other than Jimi Hendrix.
Fourth Isley Brother Vernon died at age 11 when he accidentally bicycled into an oncoming truck. The other brothers were so devastated they didn’t make music for a whole year.
Talk about iconic! I’m pretty sure this song has been on almost every wedding playlist for the last 30 or so years. And with good reason! I mean how fun is it, right from the very first “weeeeeeelllllllllllllll” to the final ‘heeee-eeyy-eyyeeyy”. But this is my first time listening with a critical ear, so let’s get into it! Obviously the Isley Brothers are great singers and sound great together, as they are all legit brothers. I can absolutely 100% hear the Jackie Wilson influence in the singing style as well as the melody, especially in the first half of the song. I think it was the correct decision to make the recording a ‘party’ vibe, because you can hear the energy in the song and they probably all fed off of it. Ron on lead vocals sounds great – soulful, powerful, and O’Kelly and Rudolph really hold their own with their background “shoo-bee-doo-ops” and occasional “woooo!” I also really like how this song seems to have so many different parts to it, not just the standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-repeat and fade that we’ve heard so much of. I really enjoy the spoon/tambourine (??) that goes ham for the whole song. I love the organ chord at the beginning of Part 2 – it definitely enhances the gospel experience. Besides it being musically quite good, I think Shout’s best asset is how fun and energetic it is – I can imagine the sweat pouring off of the Isley’s brows as they perform the hell out of this great number!
This is one of those songs that comes across as a surprise for how early it was released – this is 1959? I never would have guessed! I’ve also never listened to this song closely before, so wow was it ever a surprise! I guess this song teeters on the edge of novelty, and pulls a lot from gospel music traditions, but boy is it ever fun! Some great vocals, with the lead singer just belting the whole time. I really like how present and involved the “background” singers are. We can talk about the organ, and the spoons/tambourine/etc percussion, but I think most notable about this song and the time it comes out of is the soul and joy that comes across. There’s something really special about skilled musicianship combined with actual joyfulness and I think that’s really the magic formula of this song. The Isley Brothers do not shy away from showing off their skill. The background Isleys use accents, and different phrasing, and lead Isley is just so flexible in range and style. The organ that comes in is great, and I love that they play with form. In just 4:28, we have a surprisingly long break, high energy shouting, a pulled back gospel section, tempo changes, dynamics, and just a hell of a good time. I definitely discovered a whole new appreciation for this song. No wonder it has such strong staying power over the years!
Average mark out of 10:
Other notable versions of this song:
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the scene from Animal House:
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