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The Isley Brothers “Fight the Power” and “Shout”

The version of “Shout” embedded below is the Saturday Night Beech-Nut Hour hosted by Dick Clark. The first two or three seconds are priceless if you are 50 years old or older. — was written by O’Kelly Isley Jr.

The song enjoyed a second life in the iconic movie “Animal House.” In the scene, Robert Cray is the bass player for Otis Day and the Knights. It’s an odd thought: Robert Cray was in “Animal House.”

Above is “Fight the Power” in a classic “Soul Train” segment. There are two important songs by that name. Public Enemy recorded the other.

The Isley Brothers have a very long and distinguished history. Here is part of the band’s profile at AllMusic:

The first generation of Isley siblings was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, where they were encouraged to begin a singing career by their father, himself a professional vocalist, and their mother, a church pianist who provided musical accompaniment at their early performances. Initially a gospel quartet, the group was comprised of Ronald, Rudolph, O’Kelly, and Vernon Isley; after Vernon’s 1955 death in a bicycling accident, tenor Ronald was tapped as the remaining trio’s lead vocalist. In 1957, the brothers went to New York City to record a string of failed doo wop singles; while performing a spirited reading of the song “Lonely Teardrops” in Washington, D.C., two years later, they interjected the line “You know you make me want to shout,” which inspired frenzied audience feedback. An RCA executive in the audience saw the concert, and when he signed the Isleys soon after, he instructed that their first single be constructed around their crowd-pleasing catch phrase; while the call-and-response classic “Shout” failed to reach the pop Top 40 on its initial release, it eventually became a frequently covered classic. (Continue Reading…)

The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. This is the beginning of the official bio:

From the Fifties onward, the Isley Brothers have been a musical institution whose prolific career has explored the musical intersection of gospel, R&B, rock, soul, funk and disco. Having been a family-based group since their inception, the Isley Brothers originated with four gospel-singing brothers: Ronald, o’Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon (the last of whom was killed in a bike accident in 1955). The three surviving brothers left their hometown of Cincinnati in 1957 for New York City, where they recorded several songs for small labels. Their breakthrough came with their fervent recording of “Shout,” an original inspired by a line from Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” and shot through with raucous, gospel-style testifying. (Continue Reading…) 

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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