The Isley Brothers

Fight the Power, Pt. 1

Song Review by

Inspiration can strike at any point, so its crucial to jot down ideas. In the case of songwriting, its especially true. Isley Brothers guitarist/drummer/singer Ernie Isley leaped from the shower when these lyrics came to mind: "Time is truly wasting/There's no guarantee/Smiles in the making/Fight the powers that be" interrupted his personal hygiene period. It proved a good move as the song evolved into one of the funkiest, most socially conscious songs ever. Ernie's brothers, along with family friend/keyboardist Chris Jasper, helped to bring the song "into power." While tracking the song, Ernie originally sang nonsense in the now famous line "all this bulls...going down." It was lead singer Ronald Isley who added the curse word that made "Fight the Power" a snickering guilty pleasure for many of the group's (young) fans. It was a funny game to listen to the track to see which radio station would be gutsy enough not to beep the word. On their 1975 album, The Heat Is On, the song seemed to perfectly capture the antsy, anti-establishment sentiments that described the Nixon decade. One of Ernie's funniest memories is when they'd get the famous line and hear 20,000 people saying the "cow poo" word. The million-selling "Fight the Power" fought its way to and held the number one R&B spot for two weeks and peaked at number four pop in spring 1975.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Sounds of the Seventies: 1975 - Take Two 1991
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:17
In Yo' Face!: The History of Funk, Vol. 3 1993
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
Soul Train: Hall of Fame, 20th Anniversary 1994
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
For the Love of You 1995 Collectables 3:21
Funk Jam! 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
Ultimate Isley Brothers 2000 Epic / Legacy 3:17
Say It Loud! A Celebration of Black Music in America [Box Set] 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
Black Power: Music of a Revolution 2004
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 3:18