Fight the Power (Part 1 & 2)
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|"Fight the Power"|
|Single by The Isley Brothers|
|from the album The Heat Is On|
|Released||May 31, 1975|
|Recorded||Kendun Recorders, Los Angeles, California|
O'Kelly Isley, Jr.
|The Isley Brothers singles chronology|
"Fight the Power" (sometimes titled as Fight the Power (Part 1 and Part 2)) is a song recorded by The Isley Brothers, who released the song as the first single off their landmark album, The Heat Is On. The song is notable for the usage of the word bullshit, which was censored during radio listens.
The song was sparked in a 1975 recording session in which guitarist Ernie Isley, inspired by the news, wrote two songs: "Fight the Power" and an anti-poverty ballad titled "Harvest for the World". The group ended up recording both songs on the same day and eventually picked "Fight the Power" as the song to release first. "Harvest" would be featured on the album of the same name and would be released as the first single off that album.
The song was written almost fully by Ernie Isley with additional instrumental background composition by the band's keyboardist Chris Jasper. After playing the track on his guitar to his older brothers, Ronnie, Rudy, and O'Kelly, the vocal trio cut a unison lead vocal track in one take. Ernie was taken aback that Ron had uttered "bullshit". When asked why he said the word, Ron simply replied, "because it needed to be said" and "it's what people want to hear."
The song reflected a negative opinion of authority figures, a feeling shared by all the band members, which can explain the intensified vocalizing by Ron, Rudy, and Kelly. Later, the trio added in the background chant, "fight it!" to merge in with the brothers' vocal ad-libbing near the end. Though the track had a unison lead style, onstage during performances, Ron Isley would sing the majority of the song with his older brothers chipping in during some parts. As was with the majority of their recordings during the so-called 3+3 era, Ernie Isley and Chris Jasper had to share composition and lyrical credit with the other Isley members.
The song was released in May 1975 and became one of the group's most popular recordings, reaching #1 on the R&B singles chart. It also crossed over to the pop charts reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Due to its strong dance flavor, the song was played heavily at dance clubs helping the song to land at #2 on Billboard's dance chart, giving the brothers their first song to land on three different charts and reach top ten status on each.
The success of the song also helped its album, The Heat Is On, reach #1 on the pop chart. The song's lyric, "we gotta fight the powers that be", would be interpolated years later by rap group Public Enemy on their 1989 song of the same name. The intense style of the record would be repeated by the Isleys during other recordings including "Livin' in the Life" and "The Pride", which like "Fight the Power" before it, included a unison lead vocal by Ron, Rudy, and Kelly.
- Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley & O'Kelly Isley, Jr.: lead and background vocals
- Ernie Isley: rhythm guitar, drums
- Marvin Isley: bass
- Chris Jasper: keyboards, Moog synthesizer
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 278.
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