I have nothing against chart toppers
and gazillion sellers but I've heard
them played so often at parties, in
movies, on television and on oldies
radio that I'm sick of them!
Much more fun and interesting, at least to me, are the minor hits, the non-hits and the outright misses. The purpose of Shady Dell Music & Memories is to celebrate those obscure, unsung and underappreciated songs that woulda been, coulda been and shoulda been hits. Hence, the so-called killer bee phenomenon and Shady's Law.
With that in mind let's bypass "Shout," "Twist and Shout," "It's Your Thing" and other familiar songs by the Isley Brothers and enjoy some of their seldom heard treasures.
"The Cow Jumped Over the Moon" - Isley Brothers (1957)
Sounding very much like Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers and released in 1957 on the aptly named Teenage Records, here is side A of the Isley Brothers' earliest 45rpm release, the jump tempo "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon."
"Angels Cried" - Isley Brothers (1957)
"Cow" didn't sell in the marketplace and neither did the dreamy doo-wop ballad on the flip side, "Angels Cried."
"Don't Be Jealous" - Isley Brothers (1958)
Throughout their career the Isleys jumped from label to label searching for a hit formula. Their second single release, this one on the Cindy imprint, was a pair of fine but noncharting ballads beginning with "Don't Be Jealous."
"This is the End" - Isley Brothers (1958)
"This is the End" is defnitely not the Doors classic. Instead it happens to be one of the greatest ballads of the late 50s. This one's a shoo-in for The Shady's Law Hall of Fame (Shame)!
"I Wanna Know" - Isley Brothers (1959)
Next stop for the Isleys was Gone Records, the label that gave us those two sensational early career recordings by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, "Bermuda"/"Spanish Lace." The Isleys will knock your socks off with "I Wanna Know,"
a rock 'n roll record that's part Elvis, part Jackie Wilson,
and a whole lotta Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard!
"The Drag" - Isley Brothers (1959)
The Brothers Isley took excitement to the next level on their next Gone release. One listen to this incendiary rocker called "The Drag" and you'll agree...it's anything but!
The Isleys moved on to Mark X records where "The Drag" became the killer bee on the flip side of "Rockin' MacDonald." The score stayed the same: no errors for the Isley Brothers but no hits either. That changed when they landed at RCA and recorded their first hit, the two-parter "Shout."
"Tell Me Who" - Isley Brothers (1960)
The Isley Brothers followed "Shout" with RCA singles that were obviously derivative of their smash hit; but that's not to say they weren't great recordings in their own right. My favorite "Shout" sound-alike is "Tell Me Who."
"Your Old Lady" - Isley Brothers (1961)
Recording for Atlantic Records, the Isleys delivered the goods with "Your Old Lady," a somewhat steamy number that bears little resemblance to the sweet innocence of their later release "Who's That lady."
"Write to Me" - Isley Brothers (1961)
Flip that bad boy and you were treated to one of the sweetest ballads of the early 60s, "Write to Me."
"Twistin' with Linda" - Isley Brothers (October 1962)
In the summer of 1962 the Isleys began their stint at Scepter/Wand with the top 20 hit "Twist and Shout." Their follow-up release, another effort to capitalize on the ongoing twist craze, fell just short of the national top 50. From the fall of '62, here is "Twistin' with Linda."
"Nobody But Me" - Isley Brothers (February 1963)
Surprise surprise! Black act waxes a song and it goes nowhere. White act covers the song and it becomes a hit. Case in point "Nobody But Me," an early 1963 Wand recording by the Isleys that stopped at #106 on the Bubbling Under chart but went top 10 for the Human Beinz five years later.
"Tango" - Isley Brothers (1963)
In 1963 the Isley brothers signed with United Artists. Their first release on that imprint was the uncharted and seldom heard shouter "Tango."
"Stagger Lee" - Isley Brothers (live on Ready, Steady Go! 1964)
The Isley Brothers were great on record but they ripped it up live. One of the most exciting performances that I have ever witnessed is this 1964 clip of the Isleys performing their interpretation of the Lloyd Price hit "Stagger Lee" on the British music showcase Ready Steady Go!
Unlike groups that flash onto the scene and disappear overnight, the Isley Brothers had incredible staying power. They went on to become one of the longest lasting recording acts in music history, placing records on the charts in six different decades!
You know me. I'm still insisting the earlier the better and, when it come to the Isleys' late 50s and early 60s output,
I rest my case!
Have a Shady day!
Light pierces a dark and stormy night in Glen Rock
21 hours ago