5 Successful Covers of Songs Performed by The Isley Brothers

Few artists have remained relevant for as long as The Isley Brothers. No fewer than 44 years separated their first entry on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Shout-Part 1” in 1959) from their most recent (“What Would You Do?” with R. Kelly in 2003), and they have continued to appear on Billboard’s R&B chart into the 2020s.

Videos by American Songwriter

If no one had ever covered a single song from The Isley Brothers’ catalog, they would still go down as one of the greatest recording acts of all time. It just so happens they have been covered hundreds of times—and that doesn’t even include covers of songs they helped to popularize with their own cover versions, like “Twist and Shout” and “Love the One You’re With.” The Isleys put their own inimitable stamp on each of the five songs featured here, inspiring other artists to give them a try as well. Each of these covers became sufficiently well known that they even eclipsed the previous versions, at least in terms of popularity.

“Shout” by Joey Dee and the Starliters

As ingrained as this song is in popular culture, it’s hard to believe the Isleys’ original 1959 version stalled at No. 47 on the Hot 100. The A-side was Part 1 of “Shout,” and Part 2 went on the B-side. It was the Joey Dee and Starliters 1962 remake that first brought “Shout” to a larger audience. Their version shot up to No. 6. The likely reason we are still familiar with the song now is because a version by Lloyd Williams (credited to the fictional band Otis Day and the Knights) was used in National Lampoon’s Animal House back in 1978.

“This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” by Rod Stewart

This tune, written by the team of Holland-Dozier-Holland plus Sylvia Moy, was initially intended for The Supremes to record, but The Isley Brothers were the first to release it. “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)” was the first of eight singles The Isley Brothers would release for Motown, and the only one to chart on the Top 40. It spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 12.

Rod Stewart recorded it twice, with his first rendition being a single from his 1975 album Atlantic Crossing. It would only reach No. 83 on the Hot 100. Then Stewart rerecorded “This Old Heart of Mine” for his 1989 greatest hits anthology Storyteller—The Complete Anthology: 1964-1990. On the latter version, Stewart and Ronald Isley perform the song as a duet. This rendition outperformed the Isleys’ original, reaching No. 10 on the Hot 100 in May 1990.

“Take Me in Your Arms” by The Doobie Brothers

This Holland-Dozier-Holland composition was the Isleys’ final Motown single to chart, making it to No. 22 Billboard’s R&B chart and No. 21 on the Bubbling Under rankings in 1968. Their version was actually a cover of Kim Weston’s original, which went to No. 50 on the Hot 100.

Both of these renditions were minor hits compared to The Doobie Brothers’ version, which was the lead single from their 1975 album Stampede and a No. 11 entry on the Hot 100. The Doobies’ frontman Tom Johnston had wanted the band to cover the song for several years before finally succeeding in getting a version recorded for Stampede. Motown arranger Paul Riser did the string and horn arrangements, and Motown producer Sherlie Matthews provided backing vocals, along with Venetta Fields and Jessica Smith. One thing The Isley Brothers and Weston versions didn’t have was a guitar solo, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter delivers one of the best ones of his storied career.

“If You Were There” by Wham!

The Isley Brothers released four of the nine tracks from their 1973 Platinum smash 3 + 3 as singles. “If You Were There” wasn’t one of them, so this melodic love song hasn’t received the accolades it deserves. Wham! thought enough of it to make it the only cover they included on their 1984 breakthrough album Make It Big. Their version is largely faithful to the Isleys’ original, though there is no question that George Michael brings his own style to the vocals. Wham! also chose not to release “If You Were There” as a single, but at least on Spotify, their version has been far more popular than the original. While their remake has been listened to nearly 5 million times on the platform, The Isley Brothers’ version has received short of 700,000 streams.

“That Lady” by The Isley Brothers

Here’s a twist: The Isleys covered their own 1964 single “Who’s That Lady?” on 3 + 3. One could argue the group that recorded the far more popular “That Lady” nine years later was a different band. The Isley Brothers configuration that recorded 3 + 3 not only included the trio of Ronald Isley, O’Kelly Isley Jr., and Rudolph Isley, who made the original “Who’s That Lady?” but also featured Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, and Chris Jasper. Ernie Isley’s face-melting guitar licks are one of the most recognizable elements of the cover version, but Marvin Isley’s bass lines and Jasper’s moody chord progressions on piano also help to create this version’s unique quality. Session drummer George Moreland and percussionist Rocky Dijon add to the song’s irresistible groove.

While “Who’s That Lady?” failed to chart as a single, “That Lady—Part 1” hit No. 6 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 on Billboard’s R&B chart. With “That Lady—Part 2” on the B-side, the single was certified Gold in October 1973, six months after its release.

When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

The Rolling Stones Will Perform with New Orleans Soul Queen Irma Thomas at Their Jazz Fest Concert

4 of the Oldest Rock Stars Still Touring Today

Craig Morgan attends the 2023 FOX Nation Patriot Awards at The Grand Ole Opry on November 16, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Craig Morgan Explains What Memorial Day Means to Him and Honoring Those “Who Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice”