This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #273: Shout: Pts. #1 & 2 by The Isley Brothers.
I think that it is relatively safe to state that “Shout: Pts #1 & 2” by The Isley Brothers is one of the most instantly recognizable and most beloved songs of all-time. Even though this song was written and released almost sixty years ago, it remains as fresh and vital, as it did the day it was released. It is one of the greatest “Party” songs ever recorded and, once it is played in a crowd, it is guaranteed to get everyone up and dancing and singing along. While “Shout: its #1 & 2” was the biggest hit for The Isley Brothers, reaching all the way to #1 on the charts, it was, by no means, the only hit they ever had. The Isley Brothers left their creative fingerprints on some of the biggest hits you have ever heard such as “Twist and Shout”, “Its Your Thing”, “Summer Breeze”, “This Old Heart of Mine”, “Testify”, “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)”, “That’s the Way Love Is”, “Love the One You’re With”, “Lay Lady Lay” and so many more. It is amazing to me to note how many songs of theirs were, not only hits for them but, also, big hits for the artists who covered those songs. The Beatles, Rod Stewart, Seals and Crofts and so many more all owe much of their own career success to The Isley Brothers.
The story of The Isley Brothers is one that stretches well over six decades and began, as many of these stories seem to begin, as a Gospel group who made their early start singing in Churches and touring on the “Chitlin’ Circuit”. The family was comprised of seven brothers who, at times, sang as a whole family but, most often, they sang and recorded music in combinations of 3-5 brothers at a time. The brothers were O’Kelly, Rudolph, Ronald and Vernon…….these were the original, older brothers who were joined later by the younger brothers, Ernie, Marvin and brother-in-law, Chris Jasper. *Brother Vernon was tragically killed while touring in his teens. His death caused the remaining family members to stop singing for awhile but, with much encouragement (especially from those who knew them from Church, the family reunited on stage and ended up influencing music history in a very profound way).
In the early days of The Isley Brothers, as a performing and touring group, the band sang Gospel songs, primarily. But, over time, they branched out into Soul and R&B. One of their most popular cover tracks was Jackie Wilson’s hit song, “Lonely Teardrops”, which was a song that they often used to close out their own live sets. Whenever they played, The Isley Brothers reacted to the emotions/response of their audiences and, as was often the case, if the audience was grooving then, the band would extend their songs; using an interactive call-and-answer approach. This is how the band came up with the original line in “Shout: Pts # 1 & 2” when they say, “Hey! Wait a minute!…” and the song takes off from there. “Shout: Pts #1 & 2” is a funny song, in the sense that, there isn’t the usual lyric structure that most songs possess. Instead, the song is, basically, a series of audience/band interactions and shouted directions. But, in this case, it is the relationship between the band and the audience that makes this interaction so warm and enthusiastic. This is one instance when a song doesn’t require a story to be told in order to be effective.
While The Isley Brothers ended up being inducted into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and selling millions of albums on the basis of “Shout: Pts 1 & 2”, one of the biggest star turns the song had was when it was featured so prominently in the hit movie, “Animal House”. The song was played in its’ entirety during the infamous “Toga Party” scene by a fictional band called, Otis Day and the Knights. Funny thing about that, playing bass for that band was real-life guitarist extraordinaire, Robert Cray. In addition, the man who played the character of “Otis Day”, DeWayne Jessie, purchased the rights to his own character’s name and ended up touring with a real-life cover band. The most-requested song on their set list? “Shout: Pts #1 & 2”.
It is easy to love this song and then, forget about that vast swath of influence, The Isley Brothers cut across the popular music scene in the US and around the world. They were amazing performers, in their own right but, they were, also, able to craft songs in a way that others could use them as the foundation of their own careers, too. All you really need to know about how respected The Isley Brothers were can be found in the fact that, when they were inducted into the “Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame” they were inducted by, none other than, Little Richard who had campaigned for, what he called, “the honour of a lifetime” to induct them on such a national stage.
I am going to play two videos for you today. The first video will be The Isley Brothers performing “Shout: Pts #1 & 2” at their induction ceremony. *Note, Little Richard, Carlos Santana, Keith Richards and a whole host of musical greats all on stage with The Isley Brothers to help honour them as they have their moment. **It is Ronald Isley who is singing in this video.
The second video is the famous scene from “Animal House”, which gives an excellent rendition of how people react to this song at parties, weddings, bars, etc., when they hear it start to be played. It is, simply, one of the best “Party songs” of all-time and it is here for you to enjoy today.
The link to the official website for The Isley Brothers, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for playing the best party music of a;;-time. The link to their amazing website can be found here.