Testify (The Isley Brothers song)

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"Testify (Part I)"
Single by The Isley Brothers
B-side "Testify (Part II)"
Released June 1964 (1964-06)
Format 7" 45 rpm record
Recorded Atlantic Records Studio, New York City, March 21, 1964
Genre Soul
Length 2:53
Label T-Neck (No. 45-501)
Writer(s) Ronald Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Rudolph Isley
Producer(s) The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers singles chronology
"Who's That Lady"
"Testify (Part 1)"
"The Last Girl"

"Testify" is an uptempo rhythm and blues song by the American R&B group the Isley Brothers. Written by the Isleys[1] and recorded in 1964, it followed several successful singles by the group and was the first single to appear on their own T-Neck record label.[2]

The practice of "testifying" is used in churches in the American South to express belief in Christian faith and experiences. For their song, the Isleys parody the practice:[3] "Brothers and sisters and to all this song may concern, if you want to have some soul, if you want to be a witness I want you to listen while I testify ... All it takes is a rhythm in your feet, don't worry about the music baby, you gotta have a beat, now you got soul" During the song, others are called upon and testify briefly, including "Raymond, the genius, Ray", "James from Augusta, Georgia", "our friend Stevie", and "another friend that lives in Detroit called Jackie", and the Isley Brothers respond in parodies of the singing styles of Ray Charles, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, and Jackie Wilson.[3]

Due to its length of nearly six minutes, "Testify" was split into two parts for release as a single. Ronald Isley provides the lead vocals, with Rudolph Isley and O'Kelly Isley, Jr. supplying the background vocals.[3] Although it missed the record charts, it later gained wider exposure as one of the first recordings with guitarist Jimi Hendrix. The Isley Brothers were one of the first groups that Hendrix recorded and toured with after relocating to New York's Harlem neighborhood from Nashville, Tennessee.[3] His guitar parts for the song have been described as "churning, hard-hitting rhythm chords and fluid blues-inspired solo breaks".[4] In 2010, "Testify" was included on the Hendrix compilation West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, along with several other of his pre-Experience recordings. American blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded the song for his 1983 debut album Texas Flood.


  1. ^ Some album editions and guitar tablature books wrongly credit "Testify" to George Clinton and D. Taylor, although they wrote the unrelated Parliament song of the same name (sometimes called "I Wanna Testify").
  2. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "The Isley Brothers – Biography". AllMusic. Rovi Corp. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d Roby, Steven; Schreiber, Brad (2010). Becoming Jimi Hendrix. Da Capo Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-306-81910-0. 
  4. ^ Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Cesar (1990). Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. St. Martin's Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-312-05861-6.