As family businesses go, The Isley Brothers have lasted longer than most. They've been on top of just about every trend in rhythm If blues for 40 years - even pioneered some of them, Back in the '50s, they sang doo-wop and rock roll. They lit the path toward soul. They ruled the '70s. They had their own label, their own management company, and a self-contained family show. And they recorded "Shout"
"Shout" belongs on every list of records that made a difference. You could develop a flow chart from it. the branches reaching across the ocean to England. down to Memphis, and into countless garages. It was the sound of black church music let out of the amen corner. Its influence is incalculable. If nothing else, if proved that chart statistics dont tell half the story, because it only got up to No. 47. It also proved that most of the great developments are accidents, hut well come to that later.
In Cincinnati, circa 1951, Kelly and SatIye Isley organized their four oldest sons, O'Kelly. Rudolph, Ronald and Vernon. into a gospel group that sang at programs in the tri-state area. After Vernon was killed by a truck on his way to school in 1954. the others took a brief hiatus, then opted for secular music. In 1956, they caught a bus to New York. On it. they met a woman named Beulah Bryant. Mrs. Bryant knew a few agents, made some calls, and got them a deal with Pearl Bailey's agent, They began recording for Teenage Records in late 1956 or early 1957, then cut some singles for George Goldner's labels...
Article properties: The Isley Brothers: Shout - The RCA Sessions (CD)
Rudolph (born on April 1, 1939), Ronald (May 21, 1941) and O'Kelly (Dec. 25, 1937) survived twenty years of musical changes, scoring definitive hits in each era along the way, to emerge as one of the most innova-tive black groups of the Seventies. Raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the brothers moved to New York in 1957 where they recorded mediocre doo-wop /rock'n'roll sides for Teenage, and George Goldner's Cindy, Mark X, and Gone labels be-fore signing with RCA.
Produced by Hugo and Luigi, their driving gospel style enlivened a weak selection of pop materi-al, but was best displayed by 'Shout' (1959), an exciting adap-tation of the climax to their wild stage act which has since become a rock classic. They next worked with writer/ producers Leiber and Stoller (Atlantic, 1961-62) and Bert Berns (Wand, 1962-63; UA, 1963-64) who tried unsuccessfully to fit their raw sound into a commercial package, although it was Berns who gave them 'Twist And Shout' (1962), a one-take, end-of-session dance riff that became their first Top Twenty pop hit, later immortalized by the Beatles. Forming their own production company, T-Neck, in 1964-65 they cut several memorable sides (including the rousing 'Testify' and dramatic ballad 'The Last Girl') fea-turing their young guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, before joining Tamla the following year.
After hitting with some typically slick corporation pro-duct (the Top Twenty 'This Old Heart Of Mine' and 'I Guess I'll Always Love You', for example, in 1966) the trio were relegated to second-rate material and quit to revive T-Neck in 1969. From their first release, the million-selling 'It's Your Thing', they projected a new heavy image and soon began using two younger brothers (Ernie, on guitar, and Marvin, on bass) and Chris Jasper (keyboards) to create 'progressive' hits that anticipated modern trends in black music and brought them to the attention of wider audiences.
By the early Seventies they were interpreting songs by Steve Stills (the Top Twenty hit 'Love The One You're With', 1971) and Dylan May Lady Lay', 1971) and including Hendrix's trau-matic 'Machine Gun' in their act. In 1973, they crystallized all their influences and ideas in the highly acclaimed 3+3 album, which included the million-selling 'That Lady'. Subsequent releases in a similar style (Live It Up, The Heat Is On) have kept them in the forefront of black music.