Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Twist and Shout

First recorded (as “Shake It Up, Babe”) by The Top Notes (1961).
Hit versions by The Isley Brothers (US #17/R&B #2 1962), The Beatles (US #2/UK #1 1963).

From the wiki: “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 Philadelphia vocal group, the Top Notes (sometimes named ‘Topnotes’): ‘Shake It Up, Babe.’ This was before Spector had perfected his ‘Wall of Sound’ technique, and the recording lacked all of the energy the Top Notes exhibited in its live performances. Also, rather ironically, even though ‘twist’ was in the title, Spector chose to arrange the song in a pseudo-Bossa nova style, it being the dance fashion of the day.

“Songwriter Bert Russell felt Spector had ruined the song, and went out to show Spector how the song should be done. 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 live performance, and became the trio’s first record to reach a Top 20 position in the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart (peaking at #2 on the R&B chart).

“‘Twist and Shout’ entered The Beatles’ live repertoire in 1962. A live version from Hamburg’s Star-Club in December that year is available on bootleg recordings. The earliest known version was recorded for the BBC’s Talent Spot radio show on 27 November 1962 at the corporation’s Paris Studio, London. Unfortunately the recording has since been lost. (The Beatles recorded Twist And Shout nine times in total for the BBC, none of which appeared on the Live At The BBC collection.)

“The best-known version, of course, was recorded for the Please Please Me album. The session took place on 11 February 1963, when it was the last of 11 songs recorded for the album that day.

“‘Twist And Shout’ continued to be part of The Beatles’ live set following the album’s release. It was the final song at their Sunday Night at the London Palladium performance on 13 October 1963, widely held to signal the start of Beatlemania. Its most famous live performance had to have been when The Beatles performed it as the last song of the Royal Command Performance, in the presence of the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, when Lennon jokingly prefaced it with ‘For our last number I’d like to ask your help. The people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’d just rattle your jewellery.’

“Of the Beatles’ hit repertoire, ‘Twist and Shout’ was their only million-selling single that was a cover record and the only Beatles cover single to reach the US Top 10 on a national record chart. The song failed to hit #1 because the Beatles had another song occupying the top spot the same week, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.

“The song enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in 1986 after Matthew Broderick lip-synced to the Beatles’ version of 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 #23 late that summer. 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. Its overall chart longevity, combined with its original four-week run at #2, statistically makes it the Beatles’ second-most successful single in the U.S. next to ‘Hey Jude’.”

Other sources: The Beatles Bible

The Isley Brothers, “Twist and Shout” (1962):

The Beatles, “Twist and Shout” live at The Star Club, Hamburg (1962):

The Beatles, “Twist and Shout” (1963):

The Beatles, “Twist and Shout” live Royal Variety performance (1963):