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"Twist and Shout" is a song sung by The Beatles, originally written by Phil Medley and Bert Russell. It was originally titled “Shake It Up, Baby” and recorded by the Top Notes and then covered by the Isley Brothers. It was covered by the Beatles with John Lennon on the lead vocals and originally released on their first album Please Please Me. The song was covered by the Mamas and Papas (in the style of a ballad) in 1967 on their album Deliver, and on a film soundtrack by Cliff Richard. It was also covered by the Tremeloes. Most recently Chaka Demus and Pliers (featuring Jack Radics and Taxi Gang) reached No. 1 on the UK charts with their version in January 1994. The Who performed it throughout their career, most notably on Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and 1982’s Who’s Last.
The Top Notes' "Shake It Up, Baby"
In 1961, a year after Phil Spector became a staff producer at Atlantic Records, he was asked to produce a single by an up-and-coming vocal group, the Top Notes (sometimes named "Topnotes"): "Shake It Up, Babe." This was before Spector perfected his "Wall of Sound" technique, and the recording lacked all of the energy the group exhibited in its live performances. Songwriter Bert Russell felt Spector had ruined the song, and went out to show Spector how the song should be done.
The Beatles' version
The Beatles released the song on their first UK album, Please Please Me, the recording of which on February 11, 1963 was their first album session and is notable for 11 songs recorded in a mere 10 hours. "Twist and Shout", with John Lennon on lead vocals, was the last song recorded; producer George Martin knew Lennon's voice would suffer from the performance, so he left it until last, with only 15 minutes of scheduled recording time remaining.
Lennon was suffering from a cold, and was drinking milk and sucking on cough drops to soothe his throat. His coughing is audible on the album, as is the cold's effect on his voice. Even so, he produced a memorable vocal performance: a raucous, dynamic rocker. He later said his voice was not the same for a long time afterwards, and that "every time [he] swallowed, it felt like sandpaper".
A second take was attempted, but Lennon had nothing left and it was abandoned. George Martin said, "I did try a second take... but John's voice had gone."
The Beatles' cover was released on March 2, 1964 in the U.S. as a single, with "There's a Place" as its B-side, by Vee-Jay Records on the Tollie label. It reached No. 2 on April 4, 1964 ,during the week that the top five places on the chart were all Beatles singles. (In the Cashbox singles chart for the same week, "Twist and Shout" was No.1.) In the United States, "Twist and Shout" was the only million-selling Beatles single that was a cover record, and the only Beatles cover single to reach the Top 10 on a national record chart. The song failed to hit #1 because the Beatles had another song occupying the top spot, "Can't Buy Me Love".
In the UK, "Twist and Shout" was released by Parlophone on an EP with three other tracks, "Do You Want To Know A Secret", "A Taste of Honey", and "There's a Place" from the Please Please Me album. Both the EP and album reached No.1 (see Twist and Shout (EP)). In Canada, it became the title track to the second album of the Beatles material to be issued by Capitol Records of Canada, on February 3, 1964.
It is regarded as one of the finest examples of British rock and roll for its vocal performance. The song was used was a rousing closing number on Sunday Night at the Palladium in October 1963 and at The Royal Variety Show in November 1963, the former signalling the start of "Beatlemania". They performed it on one of their Ed Sullivan Show appearances in Feburary 1964.
The Beatles continued to play the song live until the end of their August 1965 tour of North America. Additionally, they recorded "Twist and Shout" on nine occasions for BBC television and radio broadcasts, the earliest of which was for the Talent Spot radio show on November 27, 1962.
The intro to the Beatles version samples the really popular 1958 Ritchie Valenz song "La Bamba".
The Beatles' version of the song enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in 1986 after Matthew Broderick lip-synced to it in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Coincidentally, The Rodney Dangerfield film Back to School (released two days after Ferris) also featured the song, this one sung by Dangerfield himself and patterned after the Beatles' arrangement. The use in the two films help propel the single up the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at No. 23 late that summer, giving the group their second chart single of the 1980s (the other being "The Beatles Movie Medley" in 1982). The song's seven-week run in the U.S. Top 40 in 1986, combined with its original 16-week run in 1964, makes Twist and Shout the longest-running Top 40 hit for the Beatles, at 23 weeks.
2010 UK chart entry
In November 2010, 47 years after its recording, the Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout" made a debut on the UK single charts. The highest-charting Beatles track in the aftermath of their new availability on iTunes, it entered the charts at #48 in the first of a two week run.
- John Lennon: lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1962 Gibson J-160E)
- Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass guitar (Hofner 500/1)
- George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar (1957 Gretsch Duo Jet)
- Ringo Starr: drums (1960 Premier 58/54 Mahogany)
Isley Brothers' version
When the Isley Brothers decided to record the song in 1962, Russell opted to produce, and thus demonstrate to Spector what he had intended to be the "sound" of the record. The resulting recording captured the verve of an Isley Brothers performance, and became the trio's first record to reach a Top 20 position in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
The Isley Brothers' version, with Ronald Isley on lead vocals, was the first major hit recording of the song, peaking at No. 17 on the U.S. pop top 40 charts, and No. 2 on the US R&B charts. The song quickly became a frequently covered R&B tune in the early 1960s. According to Ronald, the song was supposed to be the B-side to the Burt Bacharach standard, "Make It Easy On Yourself", which had been a hit for Jerry Butler. When the Isleys recorded "Twist and Shout", the brothers did not think the song would do well, as they had not had a hit in the three years since "Shout" established them. To their surprise, the song became their first Top 40 hit on both the pop and R&B charts, and for a time established the group's reputation for producing fast-paced songs during their earlier career.
- Ronald Isley: lead vocals
- O'Kelly Isley, Jr.: Backing vocals
- Rudolph Isley: Backing vocals
- Bert Russell: production
Brian Poole and the Tremeloes' version
In 1962 the Decca label signed Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, a British group from Dagenham, Essex, in preference to the Beatles. Both groups auditioned on the same day, and it has become the legend that the Beatles were rejected by the label. Ironically, Brian Poole and The Tremeloes had no chart success until the beat boom in British rock surfaced, following the success of the Beatles. This triggered the frenzied signing of most of the popular Liverpool rock groups of that period by the major record labels, and their distinctive "sound" became known as Merseybeat. Brian Poole and The Tremeloes imitated this style, and covered "Twist and Shout" four months after The Beatles had released their version, and acheived the number four position in the UK Single Chart.
Other cover versions
- In 1962, Booker T. & the M.G.s included as instrumental version on their album, Green Onions.
- In 1962, The Majors covered the song on the album Meet the Majors.
- In 1963, The Searchers covered the song on the album Meet the Searchers.
- In 1964, The Iguanas covered the song on the album Jumpin’ with the Iguanas.
- In 1964, Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song on their album The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles' Hits.
- In 1964, Johnny Rivers covered the song in a medley with “La Bamba” on the album At the Whisky a Go Go.
- In 1964, Jack Nitzsche and his orchestra included “Twist and Shout” on their release of Beatles instrumentals, Dance to the Hits of the Beatles on Reprise Records. It is now available on CD.
- In 1965, The Shangri-Las covered the song on the B-side to “Give Him a Great Big Kiss”, reaching No. 18 in the US charts.
- In 1966, Mae West covered the song on her album Way Out West.
- In 1967, The Mamas and the Papas covered the song on the album The Mamas and the Papas Deliver.
- In 1969, Chuck Berry covered the song on his tour, recorded for his album Toronto Rock ’N’ Roll Revival 1969 Vol. II.
- In 1981, David Lindley covered the song on his album El Rayo-X.
- In 1982, The Blockheads minus Chaz Jankel recorded a funk version of the song after their break with Ian Dury.
- In 1988, Salt-n-Pepa recorded a cover version on their album A Salt with a Deadly Pepa.
- In 1988, Crvena Jabuka recorded a cover version on their album Sanjati in Serbo-Croatian with the title “Twist and Shout (Svida Mi Se Ova Stvar)’.
- In 1993, Chaka Demus & Pliers recorded a reggae version featuring Jack Radies, which went to No. 1 on the UK charts in 1994.
- In 1997, Celine Dion sang a version during her "Falling into You Tour".
- In 2001, NSYNC performed the song for their "Pop Odyssey Tour".
- In 2001, Electric Light Orchestra spin-off group The Orchestra recorded a 6:36 version on their album No Rewind, starting with slow, picked chords before picking up the famous riff.
- In 2002, Svartur Dodur recorded a version on their album Absurdum ad Infinitatem.
- In 2002, Dee Dee Ramone and Youth Gone Mad recorded and version on their album Youth Gone Mad featuring Dee Dee Ramone.
- In 2003, Westlife performed the song on their "Greatest Hits Tour".
- In 2006, Diplo unofficially remixed the Beatles’ version.
- In 2008, Bon Jovi covered the song on their "Lost Highway Tour" and in their concert in Central Park.
- In 2008, Plan B also did a version of the song in their first live performance.
- In 2008, The View did a version of the song on their last live performance of the year in Dundee.
- In 2009, Olly Murs performed the song for “Songs from Films Week” on the sixth series of The X Factor.
- In 2010, Michael Buble covered the song on his "Crazy Love Tour".
- Del Shannon covered the song and this version can be found on The Del Shannon Definitive Collection, disc 2.
- The Who covered the song live during their career, with Roger Daltrey singing lead vocals at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, and on their 1982 Farewell Tour, with John Entwistle singing lead. The 1982 version can be heard on the live album Who’s Last.
- Bruce Springsteen has frequently played “Twist and Shout” live (including the "Magic Tour" in 2008), usually as an encore, and the song is readily available on bootlegs. Springsteen used it as an encore on December 8, 1980 in Philadelphia after hearing of the assassination of John Winston Lennon.
- The song was covered as a part of the Backbeat soundtrack by a supergroup consisting of Dave Grohl, Dave Pinter, Thurston Moore, Mike Mills, Greg Dulli, and Don Fleming (of Gumball).
- The Troggs recorded a “Louie Louie/Hang on Sloopy/Twist and Shout” medley.
- Alejandra Guzman recorded a Spanish language version with the same melody called “Muévanse Todos” that itself is based in Vianey Valdes version released in the 1960s.
- The Punkles did a punk cover on their first album.
- Mookie Morris performed the song in the semi-finals of the sixth season of Canadian Idol.
- Tom Jones covered the song on his album Tom Jones sings the Beatles.
References in other media
Appearances on film
- In the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris Bueller (voiced by Matthew Broderick) engages an entire parade and downtown Chicago in song and dance to “Twist and Shout” It uses the Beatles version, but Paul McCartney was upset that horns were arranged over the track.
- In the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the version of the Beatles playing it live with Jimmie Nicol is played during the scene where Benjamin and Daisy move into their apartment then shows it on their TV; and in another scene, Benjamin and Daisy watch the Beatles’ performance of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show.
- It is performed by Dale Gonyea with J.R. and the Z-man in a scene from the film Turf Turf.
- In the film Back to School, Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) leads a barroom full of raucous partygoers with Oingo Boingo as the backup band.
Appearances in TV shows
- In an episode of Full House, Jesse persuades Michelle’s class to sing “Twist and Shout” rather than “The Wheels on the Bus”
- In an episode of A Different World, Whitley sings “Twist and Shout” on top of a bar when she and Kim decide to go out during their Thanksgiving break.
- In the series premiere of Round the Twist, all four members of the Twist family sing the song in the car en route to their new home.
- On Strictly Come Dancing the song was danced to by John Sergeant and Kristina Rhianoff.
- The Beatles’ version is used in a commercial for WSBE, PBS KIDS.
- In the TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream, The Jackson 5 is shown performing the song at the Apollo Theater.
- In an episode of ER, Carter calls a radio show to request them to play “Twist and Shout” for Susan. Then he, Susan and Carol proceed to dance to the song in the middle of the emergency room, with various other employees dancing along.
Appearances in video games
- An instrumental version of the song appears in the coin-op video game Mikie.
- The Beatles’ version is used in the game Karaoke Revolution Volume 3.
- The title is referenced in the game Strife.
- It is the opening track in the career mode of The Beatles: Rock Band.
It is also sung by Coventry City, Preston North End, West Ham United and Barnet fans, and played before games.