High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nary a Nay...the Isleys Have it! - Part 2

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'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!


  1. Hi Shady, I realy enjoyed this post. You pulled out some real old stuff that I did not remember. If I didn't know better I would say This Is The End sounds like the Platters. The ballads were great. I think I'll go down load some for the collection.


  2. Jerre - I'm glad you likey! Many of these songs were brand new to me as well. It's hard to believe that so much great material went uncharted. Check this out. Only one Isley Bros. song released before 1966 ever made Billboard's Top R&B Singles chart, and that was "Twist and Shout." That's just wrong! Thanks for digging these sounds with me, Jerre, and have a great day!

  3. That was really nice... :) :) Almost like a welcome back to blogger.. :D :D
    Thanks Shady!

  4. PencilGirl - You are always welcome here, I can tell you that! I realize that most or all of these Isley songs are completely foreign to your ears but they are also completely new to me! It's good for each of us to stretch a little and sample the things that other people find to be of value. For example I am thoroughly enjoying the Bollywood songs and videos that you are presenting. They are enriching my life as is our friendship. Thank you very much for your visit and for your comment, P-Girl!

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  6. Shady- I've been busy and out most of the day and have to go out tonight! I will listen to the Isley Bros. as soon as I can.

  7. I was digging right along with Jerre and also couldn't believe there were so many great tunes that didn't make the charts. This was a great experience after a long day at work. We really appreciate all your hard work knowing it took some real effort to end up with this great post. Have a great rest of the week.

  8. What a lovely collection of songs Shady, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to them (and it made doing my homework much more enjoyable!). I adored "Write to Me", it was so sweet. Hope you're well Shady, and thanks for being my friend.

  9. Belle - This post will be on the front page till Friday so if you want to listen to some of these obscure songs you still have plenty of time. I appreciate hearing from you, my dear friend!

    Odie - I'm happy to know that you finished your work day by enjoying some of these hidden treasures. Here's wishing you a happy Wordless Wednesday tomorrow, good buddy!

    Alabee - It's always encouraging to hear from you and I thank you for coming by. Music has the power to comfort and heal and I'm glad you enjoyed some of these old songs. Please take good care of yourself, my special friend, and visit again soon!

  10. I loved, "The Cow Jumped Over the Moon." There should be more songs based on nursery rhymes! I like the line, "Run away with me."

    It was fun seeing them perform on stage. Music has such a power to make people feel happy, and I really like Stagger Lee. Thanks for a Shady Day!

  11. Belle - It's sweet of you to return to the scene of the crime! Yes, that "Stagger Lee" performance was electrifying. Lloyd Price recorded the song and I even have a version of it by Tommy Roe, but that rendition by the Isley's has got to be the definitive. I'm happy to know that I got your day started on the Shady side and I hope it stays that way, dear friend!

  12. Belle - I almost forgot. Johnny Rivers also does a fine job with "Stagger Lee" on one of his albums recorded live at the Whisky A-Go-Go.

  13. Hi Shady. I agree with Odie about all the work you put into your blog posts, just for us, and we are all grateful to you for this! I really enjoyed listening to these lesser-known songs. I particularly enjoyed Angels Cried, Don't Be Jealous, and This is the end. I agree that with the earlier comment, that The Platters very much came into my mind when I listened to This Is The End. Take care dear Shady.

  14. Thisisme - Yessum! The Isleys' song "This is the End" sounds a lot like the Platters singing...much more so than the Doors! (LOL) Thanks for flying across the pond to pay me a visit, dear friend!

  15. I saw the Isleys at the Raven, backed up by the Magnificent Men, rocking to "Take Some Time Out For Love", "I Guess I'll Always Love You" (mind blow after the Four Tops had already done it), "This Old Heart of Mine" (or as I sometimes refer to it as "Back In My Arms Again, Part 1". My hat is totally off to you for uncovering songs I never even knew existed, and the Isley Brothers had been in my Top 10 for a long time, before hippie days. I always thought "Rockin' McDonald" was their first record. Never even heard of the earlier records, not even from Dave Bupp. Was glad to see my favorite "Your Old Lady/Write to Me" included, as well as the original "Nobody But Me". I'll never get tired of "Shout", performed by the Delchords every time I saw them, beginning at the Jacobus Fire Hall, then moving on to White Oaks. They hooked me on it. My copy of "Twist and Shout" had white grooves in it from so much play (only "Fingertips" and the Five Du-Tones' "Shake A Tail Feather" got played as much), and no other cover---not even the Fab Four---can equal it, although they had a lot of fun with it and I do like it. "Tango" is a rocker that few people have heard. The brothers followed it with "Please, Please, Please", "Stagger Lee and Billy" and "Surf and Shout", and "Who's That Lady?" At that time, they were still the original three from Cleveland, Ronald, Rudolph and O'Kelly. Anyone liking Ronnie Isley's sound on "Write to Me" would also probably like his vocal on a long version of "Time After Time" from the "Twist and Shout" album. I still want to hear his CD, made a couple years ago, singing Bacharach-David songs. Kudos for the great detective work, Mr. Dell!

  16. Ron - I've said it before. You're a walking, talking encyclopedia of soul, my man! Thanks for all the extra tidbits about the Isleys, a band of brothers who were as prolific as they were terrific!

  17. wow the Isley Brothers were really a hard working bunch of guys! I cant believe you had to listen to the Howard the Duck music on heavy rotation...that would have driven me bonkers :)

  18. To Dell Rat Ron, I liked your comments and wanted to let you know that I still live about 2 miles from the Raven (No longer the Raven) and remember good times there also. Sorry I missed the Isley show. Jerre

    PS: You can still get BarBQue Cottage food at the Red Rabbit Drive In with in car service!!!

  19. Amber Blue Bird - In the context of th mid 80s, Howard the Duck was pretty cool stuff. Coincidentally, that same year Jon (2.5 Men) Cryer co-starred in Pretty in Pink in the role of Duckie. Yep, 1986 was a big year for ducks, Ms. Blue Bird! Thanks ever so much for coming over to chat, dear friend!

    Jerre - I just read that Gino's is making a comeback and stores might reappear at locations around Central PA! The past shall rise again, my friend! Thanks for your comment. Ron's a Raven veteran and I know he'll appreciate knowing that you live close by.

  20. To Jerre. Glad to know you spent a lot of time at the Raven, too. I'll have to check out that drive-in restaurant whenever I get back that way from Oklahoma. I have a brother living in Harrisburg and another in Chambersburg. Were you at the Raven one of the few nights the Mag Men didn't play? Sam & Dave were there and they brought their own band. The place was packed and the air conditioning didn't work in the middle of the summer. It was a hot show in many ways. I'll have a Gino Giant as soon as they open. E-mail me and I'll tell you where to send it. I enjoy your comments a lot, too.

  21. WoW! So many great songs and memories! My absolute favorite was the "Stagger Lee" video, I want to be in that crowd right now! "The Drag" and "Twistin' with Linda" were other favorites. Of course I have to comment on "Don't be Jealous" since it was on the "Cindy imprint". ;~) (Does anyone ever 'outgrow' jealousy?) I have to say it again, I appreciate ALL the effort you put into your posts, Shady!

  22. Cindy - I'm glad you agree that the Isleys' live performance of "Stagger Lee" pegs the excitement meter. Thank you very much for swinging by for a visit, dear friend!

  23. I always loved Summer Breeze, it's just one of those songs that makes you feel great!

  24. Emma - Feel good music will never go out of style. I remember Little Richard shouting "my music is the healing music" and he was so right. When life gets tough music can be the tonic. Thank you very much for coming all the way from Ireland to see me, dear friend, and please stop back soon!


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