The Isley Brothers
Writer(s): O'Kelly Isley Jr., Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley (see lyrics here)
Released: August 1959
First Charted: September 7, 1959
Peak: 47 US, 28 CB, 19 GR, 38 HR, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.50 video, 103.51 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Ronald Isley and his brothers formed a gospel group in the early ‘50s transitioned to singing doo-wop. They started touring before they’d even made a record and released their first single, “Angels Cried,” in 1957 after going to New York. They eventually became an R&B vocal group and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee..
In 1959, they were touring the Northeast appearing in R&B revues. Producers started putting them last on the bill “to ensure that audiences left the theater on a high note.” MM They used to close with a cover of Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops.” During a performance at either the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia MM or in Washington D.C. SS (depends on the source), Ronald Isley sensed that the audiences were too worked up to sit down and improvised an extension of the song by calling out “shout.” MM He said, “the band picked right up on it with that galloping beat…That song just took over.” MM
While it lacked “any real lyrical content, [it sported] pure, unbridled passion, taking the frenzied call-and-response of black gospel into the secular realm..” SS
Producers and cousins Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore read about the performance in the newspaper and, once the revue’s run was over, encouraged the brothers to record the song. They brought friends into the studio to simulate a live audience during the recording. MM It had “deep roots in black tradition as a physical manifestation of being possessed by the spirit, losing oneself in religious ecstasy.” SS
While the single only peaked at #47, it was their first chart hit and “proved…important in shaping the future of R&B” TB and “helped definte the very meaning of soul.” SS It “starts where [Ray Charles’] ‘What’d I Say’ leaves off; goes nowhere and has a great time doing it.” DM A cover by Joey Dee & the Starliters reached #6 in 1962. It was also a party anthem in the 1978 movie National Lampoon’s Animal House. It was also used as a commercial jingle for the laundry detergent of the same name. DJ
First posted 8/8/2023.