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Twist And Shout

by

The Isley Brothers



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This was written by up-and-coming songwriter Bert Berns (under the pseudonym Bert Russell) along with Bill Medley from the Righteous Brothers. It was first recorded by the Atlantic Records vocal group The Top Notes on February 23, 1961. It wasn't released until that September as Atlantic single 2115, and then as the B-Side of "Always Late (Why Lead Me On)."

This original version was produced by Phil Spector, who within the next 3 years became the most famous producer in the record business, but his work on this didn't go over well. Atlantic Records co-founder Jerry Wexler said: "It was when (Phil) Spector was working with us, and he and I produced the record and it was horrible. Bert (Berns) was such a newcomer, he was sitting in the spectator's booth, watching Phil and I butcher this song. Phil changed the middle around, we had the wrong tempo, the wrong feel, but we didn't realize that Bert could've produced it. Did he say anything afterward? Yeah, he said 'Man, you f--ked it up.'"

Berns took the song to the Isley Brothers and convinced them to record it with the energy they were famous for, this time producing it himself. The result was a #1 R&B hit and a #17 pop hit for Wand Records in the summer of 1962 (the Isley's second release for the label) and it was also this version that was copied by The Beatles. (Thanks to Kent at the Forgotten Hits newsletter, which you can join at The60sshop@aol.com.)
This song combined the twist craze with the energy of The Isleys 1959 hit "Shout," and it proved a winning combination. The Isley's version used the same lyrics as the original, but with a completely different sound.
The Isleys thought this was stupid and reluctantly recorded it in the last few minutes of a session for another song. Good thing they did. It revived their career, until this they were unable to follow up "Shout" with a hit.
The Isleys tried to follow this up with other twist-themed songs, including "Twisting With Linda," "Let's Twist Again," and "Rubberleg Twist." None were successful.
The building "ah-ah-ah" refrain was used on many other Isley Brothers songs in the next few years.
This became a huge hit for The Beatles in 1964, who ended many of their concerts with it. Phil Spector, who unsuccessfully produced the first version of "Twist And Shout," went on to work with The Beatles, producing their album Let It Be.
The Beatles version gave the Isleys an audience in England, where they gradually gained popularity.
Proceeds from this song enabled The Isleys to start their own label, T-neck Records, in 1964. They signed with Motown a year later but revived T-neck in 1969.
In 1993, Chaka Demus & Pliers recorded a Reggae version produced by Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare (Sly & Robbie) that went to #1 in the UK.
The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers Artistfacts
More The Isley Brothers songs
More songs covered by The Beatles
More songs written by Bert Berns
More songs that were hits for more than one artist
More songs about dancing

Comments (13):

Back in 1962, this was one of the better Twist-craze records to climb the charts. I was 11 yrs old when it got into the Top Ten in my region (#17 on Billboard pop charts) and did some serious twisting to this record, even though I was forbidden to attend any teen dance parties of the times. I recall that "Twist & Shout" was also on Dee Dee Sharp's summer 1962 album "All The Hits by Dee Dee Sharp" too. Sharp's label, Cameo-Parkway Records, gave the song an even better production quality. Then many years later, I recall it was recorded by The Mamas & Papas in a much slicker ballad style. It lost all of its energy there. It's a dance song meant for energetic expression. And thanks to THE BEATLES for their absolutely compelling version of this song!
- Elmer H, westville, OK
To be accurate: The Mamas & Papas version was on the album "Deliver", issued in 1967.
- Robin, Bolton, United Kingdom
The flip-side of the 45 record was an instrumental version of the song!!!
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
The first Songfact need revision. "Twist and Shout" is a song written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. Berns was the fellow who told Phil Specter he had messed it up and then went on to produce the famous Isley version.
- Sheriff, Lake Stevens, WA
By the way , it's only plagiarism if you take parts/melodies/lines from another song and call it your own.
- Tommy, Flanders, NJ
John Lennon was tired, but actually he had a very bad cold and sore throat when he sang this. He just belted it out and that's what you hear.
- Tommy, Flanders, NJ
I didn't know who wrote this! Yes, I love Johns vocals in the original version. He was very tired when the Beatles recorded this for Please Please Me and that's why if you listen it sounds so painful for him.
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
Wilf, I think the style of Twist and Shout is an homage to La Bamba and other Latin / Spanish songs. It's meant to sound like it - it's been built on the same chords.
- Calum, Edinburgh, Scotland
On their "Greatest Hits" album, The Mamas and the Papas do this in a slow, ballad style. The concept sounds crazy and I can imagine the rest of the group wondering what John had been smoking when he came up with the idea! But, guess what, folks? It works!
- Jerry, Brooklyn, NY
I have noticed a strong similarity between "Twist and Shout" and the classic "La Bamba". I don't remember the Isley brothers version, but the Beatles cover of "Twist and SHout" even features a guitar bridge that is almost exactly the same as the version of "La Bamba" performed by Richie Valens. Is this coincidence, plagiarism (whether conscious or not) or just my fevered imagination? Has it been noted before?
- Wilf Hey, Bath, England
One of John Lennons best vocal preformances.
- john, shelby, NV
that's odd, ST, because on the "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" LP, they start with this track. i don't know if it was spliced into that position or what. interesting.
- Bonnie, Hollywood, CA
The Beatles ended many of their concerts with this song because by the end of a concert, their voices would be coarse enough to emulate the voices of the Isley Brothers.
- ST, Dallas, TX
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