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A double-shot "Shout"-out to the legacy of the late, great Rudolph Isley

October 13, 2023

Here are two Springsteen covers of two classic Isley Brothers recordings strongly associated with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-inducted - and for many years New-Jersey-based - group's founding member Rudolph Isley, who died yesterday at 84:

First up is "Shout," which Rudolph co-wrote with his brothers O'Kelly Isley, Jr. and Ronald Isley. In 1959, this extremely influential and extra-long Black-gospel-derived classic had to be issued by The Isley Brothers as a double-sided, two-part vinyl single. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's epic covers of "Shout" became a standard part of their encores on the Wrecking Ball Tour, High Hopes Tour, and The River Tour 2016-17. Here's the pro-shot/pro-recorded version of "Shout" from the April 6, 2014 NCAA March Madness Music Festival, broadcast live from Dallas, TX:

And of course there's no Isley Brothers recording more influential on the music of Bruce Springsteen than their 1962 version of "Twist and Shout," which was the first hit version. "Twist and Shout" also was the first rock-and-roll song that Bruce ever learned to play on guitar. While Rudolph played no role in writing "Twist and Shout," it was his and O'Kelly Isley's background singing, particularly on producer/songwriter Bert Berns' newly arranged ascending "aaah, aahh..." bridge, that made the Isleys' version so memorable, influential, and virtually immortal, especially as it was their version on which The Beatles would base their now-equally-classic version. As Paul McCartney once rhetorically asked onstage. "Where would we have been without [The Isley Brothers?] ...In Liverpool; that's where would have been! And we'd have stayed there!" Here's Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's New Year's Eve 1975 performance of "Twist and Shout," clearly modeled at least as much on the Isleys' version as The Beatles'. Rest in peace, Rudolph Isley, and thank you for so much great music. May it all play on forever...

- Special thanks to Lisa Iannucci


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