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The Originals – Soul Vol. 1

June 27th, 2019 2 comments

The theme of this month’s instalment of The Originals is soul classics. The alert reader will notice, with possible alarm, that none of the tracks featured were Motown hits. But that reveals that I’m planning to do a special of lesser-known originals of Motown hits at some point.

 

 

Sweet Soul Music (Yeah Man)
Before Arthur Conley wrote Sweet Soul Music, his tribute to the living soul legends, he just wanted to cover Sam Cooke’s posthumously released Yeah Man. Otis Redding rewrote the lyrics, and got himself a namecheck — but excluded the man who was being plagiarised. It was a strange omission, since Sam Cooke influenced pretty much every soul singer of the 1960s, including and especially Otis Redding.

Try A Little Tenderness
Indeed, it was Cooke’s interpretation of the old standard Try A Little Tenderness which inspired Otis Redding’s reworking of the song. Once Otis was through with the song, with the help of Booker T & the MGs and a production team that included Isaac Hayes, it bore only the vaguest semblance to the smooth and safe standard it once was. Redding in fact didn’t even want to record it, ostensibly because he did not want to compete with his hero Cooke’s brief interpretation of the song on the Live At The Copa set. His now iconic delivery was actually intended to screw the song up so much that it could not be released.

It isn’t quite clear who recorded the original version: the versions by the New Mayfair Dance Orchestra and the Ray Noble Orchestra are both cited as having been recorded on December 8, 1932.

At Last
When Beyoncé Knowles was invited to sing At Last — Barack and Michelle’s special song — at Obama’s inauguration events in January 2009, Etta James was not best pleased. The veteran soul singer stated her dislike for the younger singer, who had portrayed Etta in the film about the Chess label, Cadillac Records. “That woman; singing my song, she gonna get her ass whupped,” James declared (she later relegated her outburst to the status of a “joke”).

It is her song, of course, certainly in the form covered so competently by Beyoncé. But many people recorded it before her, and it was a hit at least twice. The first incarnation came in the 1941 movie Orchestra Wives, in which it was performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, who also recorded the first version to be released on record on 20 May 1942. It was a #9 hit for Miller. At Last became a hit again ten years later, for Ray Anthony with Tom Mercer on vocals. This version is typical 1950s easy listening fare, done much better in 1957 by Nat ‘King’ Cole (who tended to do music much better than most people).

In 1960 Etta James recorded the song, with Phil and Leonard Chess producing with a view to accomplishing crossover success. Her version, released on Chess subsidiary Argo, was a #2 R&B hit in 1961, but crossover success was limited, reaching only #47 in the pop charts. Over the years it did manage to cross over, being especially popular at weddings. As a result, it has been covered prodigiously, by soul singers (such as the wonderful Laura Lee and, in a gloriously upbeat version, Stevie Wonder), folk legends (Joni Mitchell) and difficult listening merchants (Céline Dion, Michael F. Bolton and Kenny G) alike.

I Got You (I Feel Good)
For one of his most iconic songs, James Brown covered his own composition, with a few adaptations. But first it was recorded, under Brown’s supervision, by his back-up singer (and lover) Yvonne Fair in 1962 as I Found You. Released on single by King Records, it went nowhere.

Two years later, Brown dug out the old song and recorded it, having to withdraw it at first because of a legal conflict with King Records. It became famous when Brown lip-synched it in the 1965 movie Ski Party.

Yvonne Fair went on to record on Motown, scoring a UK #5 in 1976 with It Should Have Been Me, originally a Kim Weston song from 1963.

 

It May Be Winter OutsideUnder The Influence Of LoveLove Theme
Before becoming an icon of baby-making music, Barry White was something of an impresario. He discovered and produced the girl band Love Unlimited, whose success in 1972 set him off on his successful solo career. Just a decade or so earlier, White had been in jail for stealing the tyres of a Cadillac. After leaving jail, he started to work in record production, mostly as an arranger. Among his early arrangement credits was Bob & Earl’s 1963 song Harlem Shuffle. By 1967, White worked for the Mustang label. In that job, White wrote for Bobby Fuller, Viola Wills and a young soul singer named Felice Taylor.

Felice Taylor, born in 1948 in Richmond, California, had previously released a single as part of a trio with her sisters, The Sweets, and a solo single under the name Florian Taylor. White’s It May Be Winter Outside provided Taylor with her only US hit, reaching #42 in the pop charts. It is a rather lovely version that sounds a lot like a Supremes song (with a break stolen from the Four Tops’ Reach Out I’ll Be There). White also wrote and arranged Taylor’s I’m Under The Influence Of Love. The arrangement and Taylor’s vocals are inferior, and the single failed to make an impact. The flip side was the original recording of the Love Unlimited Orchestra’s Love Theme, performed by the Bob Keene Orchestra. This and Under The Influence are included as bonus tracks.

Taylor’s biggest success was with another White song, I Feel Love Comin’ On, a bubblegum pop number that reached #11 in the UK charts in late 1967. By the early 1970s Taylor had ceased to record. In 1973 Love Unlimited recorded totally reworked, luscious versions of It May Be Winter Outside and (title shortened) Under The Influence Of Love for the sophomore album. Both were released as singles, with Winter reaching #11 in the UK charts.

On Broadway
Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil were among the giants of the Brill Building songwriting collective. According to Weil, her future husband Mann had wanted to write a “Gershwinesque” pop song, and she, being a Broadway fan, was delighted to put appropriate lyrics to the melody. They first had the song recorded by The Cookies (whose Chains the Beatles had covered), who ordinarily recorded songs, mostly demos, by Carole King and Gerry Goffin. Their demo was not released, but that by fellow girl-group The Crystals recorded soon after was, opening side 2 of their 1962 Twist Uptown album. It’s their version that features here; The Cookies’ demo is included as a bonus track.

In February 1963, Brill bosses Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber were in need of a song for The Drifters. At their request, Mann & Weil offered their On Broadway. Leiber & Stoller didn’t quite like their arrangement, and revised it overnight with the original composers. Next day The Drifters recorded the song, with Leiber & Stoller protégé Phil Spector on guitar and Rudy Lewis (successor of Ben E. King as the group’s lead singer) making one of his final appearances as a Drifter before his sudden death of a heart attack in 1964. Released in March ’63, the Drifters’ version became a hit, reaching #9 in the Billboard charts.

George Benson’s jazzed-up 1978 live recording did even better, reaching #7 in the US. Recorded in LA, the crowd clearly agrees with the statement that Benson “can play this here guitar”.

Mustang Sally
Mustang Sally is the karaoke number of blues and soul, thanks in large part to The Commitments’ spirited performance in the eponymous 1991 film. But it was in overuse before that: John Lee Hooker’s San Francisco blues club sported a sign on its stage warning: “No Mustang Sally”.

The song was written by the songwriter Bonnie “Sir Mack” Rice (who also wrote the soul classic Respect Yourself) as a bit of a gag on somebody’s desire for a Ford Mustang, calling it first “Mustang Mama”. Reportedly it was Aretha Franklin who suggested the renaming to Sally. Mack had a minor (and his only) hit with it in 1965; in late 1966 Wilson Pickett recorded his now legendary version — which almost died the moment it was finished. Apparently the tape snapped off the reel, fragmenting on the floor of the Muscle Shoals studio. The engineer, Tom Dowd, gathered the pieces and spliced them back together again. With that, he saved one of the great soul performances. Of course the great story of the broken tape ignores that Pickett could have simply recorded the thing again.

 

Midnight Train To Georgia
In 1972 former All-American quarterback Jim Weatherly released a country song that told of a girl whose fading dream of stardom in Los Angeles led not to a life of waitressing or pornography, but ended on a plane back to her home in Texas. In fact, Weatherley initially wanted his protagonist’s dreams shattered in Nashville, for his genre was country music.

The choice of Houston as the failed star’s home was inspired, according to Weatherley, by the actress Farrah Fawcett, who at the time was more famous for dating Lee Majors than her thespian accomplishments. “One day I called Lee and Farrah answered the phone,” Weatherly later told songfacts.com. “We were just talking and she said she was packing. She was gonna take the midnight plane to Houston to visit her folks. So, it just stayed with me. After I got off the phone, I sat down and wrote the song probably in about 30 to 45 minutes.”

Some months later, the Janus label sought permission to record the song with Cissy Houston, but asked whether they could adapt the lyrics to make the destination Georgia (seeing as Ms Houston going to Houston might seem a bit awkward). Weatherly accepted that, as well as a change in the mode of transport.

Whitney’s mom’s lovely performance became a minor hit in 1973. Gladys Knight heard it and decided to record it with her Pips. Houston’s endearing version, included here among the bonus tracks, might have been the template, but Knights’ cover demonstrates the genius of the sometimes unjustly ridiculed Pips. What would Gladys Knight’s interpretation be without the interplay with and interjections by her backing singers: “A superstar, well he didn’t get far”, “I know you will”, “Gotta go, gonna board the midnight train…” and, of course, the choo-choo “Hoo hoo”s?

It was fortuitous that Georgia was also Knight’s homestate. The song also sparked a collaboration with Weatherley with whose songs Knight populated the Imagination album on which Midnight Train appears, including Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me, originally recorded by easy listening crooner Steve Lawrence (some sources suggest Ray Price issued his version first). The Lawrence version is among the bonus tracks.

Rainy Night In Georgia
Louisiana-born “swamp rocker” Tony Joe White was only19 when he wrote Rainy Night In Georgia in 1962. He didn’t release the song until seven later, and even then it was his Polk Salad Annie which grabbed all the attention (covered to good effect by Elvis).

At the same time, deep-voiced soul veteran Brook Benton was looking for a hit to launch his comeback on an Atlantic subsidiary, Cottillion Records. The legendary Jerry Wexler alerted Benton to White’s song, and the singer scored a massive 1970 hit with his version, produced by the great Arif Mardin. Ex-Temptations singer David Ruffin put down a version at about the same time as Benton did; it was not released until 2004.

Georgia On My Mind
Georgia On My Mind was a standard long before Ray Charles recorded it, but when he did, he made the song his own. It was written by Hoagy Carmichael and lyricist Stuart Gorrell in 1930. The Georgia of the title was originally intended to refer to Hoagy’s sister, but realising that the words could apply also to the southern US state, Carmichael and Gorrell were happy to keep things ambiguous. The plan worked: the song was a massive hit especially in the South, and since 1979 it has been the state song of Georgia (a better choice than the tourist-unfriendly Rainy Night In Georgia, the loser-comes-home Midnight Train To Georgia, or the infrastructure-deficient The Lights Went Out In Georgia).

Carmichael’s version features jazz legend Bix Beiderbecke on cornet. He died a few months later at 28, but Carmichael went on to enjoy a long career, and is perhaps even better known for Stardust and Heart And Soul than he is for Georgia (which he nonetheless re-recorded a few times). Frankie Trumbauer scored a hit with the song in 1931, as did Mildred Bailey with her very appealing version.

Ray Charles, who was born in Georgia but grew up in Florida, recorded his version in 1960, reportedly at the advice of his driver who had heard Ray sing it to himself in the car. It was an instant hit, topping the US charts, and became something of a signature tune for Ray.

 

Strawberry Letter #23
Shuggie Otis, a gifted guitarist, indeed multi-instrumentalist, and son of R&B legend John Otis, released his ode of appreciation for the 22th in an exchange of love letter on strawberry-scented paper in 1971. Remarkably, Otis was all of 18 when he recorded the song.

Six years after Otis recorded the track, Brothers Johnson recorded it in a more upbeat mood, produced by Quincy Jones (who, happily, amplified the opening hook) with Lee Ritenour taking over the guitar solo duties so integral to the song. TYhey came to the sing through George Johnson, who had heard it through his girlfriend who was also Shuggie’s cousin.

Otis is still recording, having released an instrumental album last year.

Who’s That Lady
One act here covered itself: This slice of funky soul from The Isley Brothers’ classic 1973 album 3+3 was a cover of their 1964 recording, which had been inspired by Curtis Mayfield’s band The Impressions. Released just before the Isleys signed for Motown, the original has a vague bossa nova beat with a jazzy brass backing, but is immediately recognisable as the song they recorded nine years later. The 1964 recording was a flop. The latter version, with reworked harmonies and without the brass, added Ernie’s distinctive guitar, Chris Jasper’s new-fangled synthethizer, Santanesque percussions, and the menacing interjection “Look, yeah, but don’t touch”. It became their first Top 10 hit in four years.

 

Lady Marmalade
Lady Marmalade was written by Bob Crewe (a recurring name in this series for his association with the Four Seasons) and Kenny Nolan (who may be remembered for his 1977 ballad I Like Dreaming). Nolan was a member of the Eleventh Hour, who included the song on their rather grandly titled 1974 LP Eleventh Hour’s Greatest Hits (the number of actual hits were restricted to none, and the title was doubtless ironic).

The same year the legendary Alain Toussaint heard it and decided it would be the perfect song for the act he was producing, Labelle, led by Histrionic Patti. It became a US #1, replacing another Crewe & Nolan composition, Frankie Valli’s My Eyes Adored You. And Valli features on this mix as well.

Native New Yorker
The mystery of who recorded Native New Yorker first may never be resolved because all documents that could point to conclusive dates have been destroyed. Maybe it was Odyssey, who had the big hit with it, or maybe it was Frankie Valli.

The fact that the song’s co-writers, Charlie Calello and Sandy Linzer, also produced the Odyssey recording points to the disco trio. BUT: Calello and Linzer were producers for the Four Seasons already in the 1960s, so that could swing it back to Frankie Valli’s version. It seems that Valli’s version was released first in 1977 on his Lady Put The Light Off album before Odyssey had a hit with it in late 1977.

As always: CD-R length, home-funked covers, PW in comments.

 

1. Sam Cooke – Yeah Man (1964)
The Usurper: Arthur Conley (as Sweet Soul Music, 1966)

2. Chris Kenner – Land Of A 1000 Dances (1962)
The Usurpers: Cannibal & the Headhunters (1965), Wilson Picket (1966)

3. Yvonne Fair – I Found You (1962)
The Usurper: James Brown (as I Got You (I Feel Good}, 1965)

4. Connie Stevens – Keep Growing Strong (1970)
The Usurper: The Stylistics (as Betcha By Golly Wow, 1971)

5. Felice Taylor – It May Be Winter Outside (1966)
The Usurper: Love Unlimited (1973)

6. Chairmen Of The Board – Patches (1970)
The Usurper: Clarence Carter (1970)

7. Tony Joe White – Rainy Night In Georgia (1969)
The Usurpers: Brook Benton (1970), Randy Crawford (1981)

8. Jim Weatherly – Midnight Plane To Houston (1972)
The Usurper: Gladys Knight & The Pips (as Midnight Train To Georgia, 1973)

9. John Henry Kurtz – Drift Away (1972)
The Usurper: Dobie Gray (1973), Uncle Kracker (2003)

10. Johnny Darrell – The Son Of Hickory Hollers Tramp (1968)
The Usurper: O. C. Smith (1968)

11. Joe Haywood – Warm And Tender Love (1965)
The Usurper: Percy Sledge (1966)

12. Lowell Fulsom – Tramp (1966)
The Usurper: Otis Redding & Carla Thomas (1967)

15. Sir Mack Rice – Mustang Sally (1965)
The Usurper: Wilson Picket (1966), The Commitments (1991)

14. Mel & Tim – Groovy Situation (1969) (1973)
The Usurper: Gene Chandler (1970)

15. Shuggie Otis – Strawberry Letter #23 (1971)
The Usurper: Brothers Johnson (1977)

16. Eleventh Hour – Lady Marmalade (1974)
The Usurper: LaBelle (1974)

17. Frankie Valli – Native New Yorker (1977)
The Usurper: Odyssey (1977)

18. Marilyn McCoo – Saving All My Love For You (1978)
The Usurper: Whitney Houston (1985)

19. The Isley Brothers – Who’s That Lady? (1964)
The Usurper: The Isley Brothers – Who’s That Lady? (1973)

20. Thelma Jones – The House That Jack Built (1968)
The Usurper: Aretha Franklin (1968)

21. The Crystals – On Broadway (1962)
The Usurpers: The Drifters (1963); George Benson (1978)

22. The Five Keys – Close Your Eyes (1955)
The Usurper: Peaches & Herb (1967)

23. Hoagy Carmichael – Georgia On My Mind (1930)
The Usurper: Ray Charles (1960)

24. Glenn Miller with Ray Eberle and Pat Friday – At Last (1942)
The Usurper: Etta James (1960)

25. New Mayfair Dance Orchestra – Try A Little Tenderness (1933)
The Usurper: Otis Redding (1966)

Bonus Tracks:
Lamont Dozier – Going Back To My Roots (1977)
The Usurper: Odyssey (1981)

Steve Lawrence – The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me (1973)
The Usurper: Gladys Knight & The Pips (1973)

Felice Taylor – I’m Under The Influence Of Love (1967)
The Usurper: Love Unlimited (1973)

Bob Keene Orchestra – Love’s Theme (1967)
The Usurper: Love Unlimited Orchestra (1973)

Plus: The Cookies – On Broadway (1962)
Cissy Houston – Midnight Train To Georgia (1972)

GET IT!
OR HERE

More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: : Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals:  Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: : Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

Categories: Mix CD-Rs, The Originals Tags:

The Originals: 1990s & 2000s

May 30th, 2019 5 comments

 

 

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that The Originals are running monthly now. This month we cover the 1990s and 2000s. My stash of lesser-known originals from that era is limited; so much so that I’m adding a few bonus tracks to exhaust those decades.

 

It’s Oh So Quiet
Bjork showed just how madcap crazy she is on the big band pastiche It’s Oh So Quiet. But the song was actually a cover of actress Betty Hutton‘s 1951 English version of the song, titled Blow A Fuse. It is no less maniacal than Bjork’s 1995 cover, right down to the frantic screams.

It’s fair to say that back in the day Hutton was a bit of a cook in her own right; her goofy performance in the musical Annie Get Your Gun (with which you apparently can’t get a man) testifies to a certain lack of restraint which is very much on exhibition on Bjork’cover.

Blow A Fuse itself was a cover of a 1948 German number by Austrian jazz musician Horst Winter, who knew it as Und jetzt ist es still (And now it’s quiet). It is included here as a bonus track.

Torn
When Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn had its long run in the upper reaches of the British and US charts in 1997, word was that the song was a cover of the Norwegian hit by Trine Rein. The truth is that it wasn’t even the first cover, or even the first Scandinavian version.

The song’s journey to hit-dom is a little complicated. The song was written by Ednaswap members Anne Preven and Scott Cutler in 1993. The same year it was recorded in Danish by Lis Sørensen as Brændt (“Burnt’) but by Ednaswap only in 1995. Still, those who overplayed the Norwegian angle aren’t entire wrong though: Imbruglia’s cover is a straight copy of Rein’s version, right down to the guitar solo.

Ednaswap were a not very successful ’90s grunge band, who came by their name when singer Anne Preven had a nightmare about fronting a group by that name being booed off the stage. Well, with a name like that… Preven has become a songwriter, receiving an Oscar nomination for co-writing the song Listen from  Dreamgirls.

 

I Swear & I Can Love You Like That
Before it was a worldwide mega-hit for soul crooners All-4-One, I Swear was a country song. In late 1993, singer John Michael Montgomery issued I Swear as a single. It did very well in the country charts and won the 1995 Grammy for Best Country Song, but reached only #42 in the Billboard charts.

Later in 1994, producer David Foster took the song, written by written by Gary Baker and Frank J. Myers, to the soul boy band All-4-One, who topped the charts in many countries with it.

They repeated the trick a year later when All-4-One had a huge hit with I Can Love You Like That—also originally recorded earlier that year by John Michael Montgomery (his version of that is included as a bonus track). Here I think the All-4-One version is better than the pedestrian origi

Nothing Compares To U

It’s well-known that Sinead O’Connor’s mega hit of 1990 was written by Prince, for his funk side project The Family. Released in 1985, the song made no impact. Oddly, Prince recorded it as well but never released it on record, though he regularly sang it in concert.

O’Connor tells a story that Prince summoned her to Paisley Park around the time she had her debut hit with his song to berate her for using bad language in interviews, provoking a confrontation that culminated in a physical fight. Just a “Thank you for writing my hit” might have been the better response.

 

You Raise Me Up

The rather cloying, hymn-like You Raise Me Up became famous in the 2003 version by Josh Groban and later by the dreaded Westlife. In its original form it was released by Norwegian new-agey outfit Secret Garden, whose members had written it, with vocals by Northern Irish singer Brian Kennedy. He performed it at the 2005 funeral for football legend George Best, and hit a UK hit with it.

Secret Garden, who had won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1995 for Norway with the near-instrumental Nocturne, were sued last year by Icelandic composer Jóhann Helgason who claims that his 1977 song Söknuður was plagiarised.

Make You Feel My Love

One could argue, with some justification, that the original of Make You Feel My Love is the 1997 version by Billy Joel, rather than that of the song’s writer, Bob Dylan. Joel released his recording of it a month before Dylan’s came out. But Dylan’s was the first to be recorded, so here I’ll give him the nod (I have a playlist of other first-recordings-released-later in my collection which might become another mix).

Billy Joel deservedly had little success with his single (included here as a bonus track), but Make You Feel My Love became a big hit first for Garth Brooks in 1998 and a decade after that for Adele.

 

Am I The Same Girl

Soul singer Barbara Acklin must have been very pleased when her husband Eugene Record, future soul legend as leader of The Chi-Lites, gave her a song he had co-written with arranger Sammy Sanders. Acklin duly recorded Am I The Same Girl, a catchy number with a great hook which had hit written all over it. And it became a hit — minus Acklin’s voice. Producer Carl Davis took the backing track, added a piano solo and released it as Soulful Strut by Young-Holt Unlimited (though Eldee Young and Red Holt are not believed to have played on the track). Released in November 1968, it became a million-seller. Acklin’s version was issued in February 1969, to little notice.

Soulful Strut was frequently covered and later liberally sampled. Am I the Same Girl was covered by Dusty Springfield, who had a minor hit with it in 1969. It was her version that inspired the 1992 Swing Out Sisters cover, which later became famous in the US as a theme for Martha Stewart’s show.

Round Here
Before the Counting Crows, there were The Himalayans. That was the band which singer Adam Duritz fronted in the early 1990s. And it was with fellow Himalayans that he co-wrote Round Here, which was the second single off Counting Crows’ 1993 debut album August and Everything After.

Don’t Know Why
Don’t Know Why is the song that made Norah Jones an instant star in 2002, winning her a Grammy. The song was given to her by songwriter Jesse Harris, who contributed four other songs to Jones’ debut album.

Harris had recorded Don’t Know Why with his band The Fernandinos in 1998. His version sounds more like the alt.country band Bright Eyes than the smooth jazz of Norah Jones. And, sure enough, Harris went on to play guitar on Bright Eyes’ superb 2005 album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning.

 

When You Say Nothing At All
The regrettable Ronan Keating scored a huge worldwide hit in 1999 with When You Say Nothing At All, his first single outside Irish boy band Boyzone, on the back of the Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts rom-com Notting Hill (Julia Roberts is said to have cried when she first heard the song, no doubt overcome by Keating’s herculean soulfulness).

It’s not as mediocre a song as Keating and his terrible arrangement would make us believe. In the beginning, it was a quite excellent country #1 for Keith Whitley. Whitley was on the cusp of country superstardom when he died in on 9 May 1989 at the age of 33, one of the many musicians to fall the victim to the bottle.

When You Say Nothing At All was written by Paul Overberg and Don Schlitz, both prolific songwriters and occasional recording artists (Schlitz recorded the first version of the Kenny Rodgers hit The Gambler, which he also wrote).

Alison Krauss, once a child prodigy, recorded When You Say Nothing At All for a Whitley tribute album. Her lovely version was so popular that it was released as a single, providing the bluegrass singer with her first hit, reaching #2 on the country charts. And yet, this lovely song is known as a Ronan Keating number. Where’s justice?

Who Let The Dogs Out?

A repeat contender for Worst Song of the 2000s”, Who Let The Dogs Out was originally a man-bashing song (the “dogs” in the title are misogynist men) titled Doggied, written for Trinidad & Tobago’s carnival season 1998 by musician Anslem Douglas.

It was first covered by English radio personality Jonathan King, before his conviction for sexual abuse of teenage boys, as Fat Jakk and his Pack of Pets. His version was picked up by the manager of the Bahamian dance band Baha Boys, who recorded it only very reluctantly. The Baha Boys clearly were men of discernment but awful commercial judgment: the song was a big hit and earned them a Grammy, which is always a guarantee of unimpeachable quality.

Who Let The Dogs Out was a huge hit everywhere except in the US. But even that nation eventually succumbed to its dubious charms: Who Let The Dogs Out has become part of US culture thanks to its use at sporting events. Meanwhile Anslem Douglas was sued for having plagiarised the chorus from Canadian radio jingle writers. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

 

From A Distance
Julie Gold was a secretary at HBO while she was writing songs on the side. Gold had pitched one song she had written to various record companies and artists, but nobody picked it up. Through a mutual friend she got that sing, From A Distance, to folk-country singer Nanci Griffith, with a request that the singer might point out what exactly was wrong with the song to merit its serial rejection. Griffith found nothing wrong with it. On the contrary, she recorded it for her 1987 album Lone Star State of Mind.

From A Distance, a rather mawkish number, became a mega-hit in 1990 in the version by Bette Midler. Opinion on the song is rather divided: it sold by the shedloads and won the Grammy for Song of the Year (as I said, always the seal of quality). On the other hand, it resides comfortably on most lists of “Worst Ballad of the 1990s”. Personally, I don’t like it much.

She’s The One
In his cover of She’s The One, Robbie Williams hardly bothered to interpret the original by World Party; his vocals follow the template of the first version faithfully, almost as if he has no powers of interpretation. Those vocals which Williams karaoked were put down by former Waterboys member and multi-instrumentalist Karl Wallinger, for whom World Party is practically a solo project.

Wallinger wrote the song, and won an Ivor Novello Award for it in 1997. But he had no commercial success with the World Party recording of it. That came with Robbie Williams’ inferior 1998 cover which topped the UK charts.

 

Ain’t That Just The Way

Twenty years before the unusually named Lutricia McNeal had a European hit with Ain’t That Just The Way, it was recorded by the girlfriend of Playboy honcho Hugh Hefner, Barbi Benton. Hefner and Benton became a couple, for seven years, after the then 18-year-old pretended to be his girlfriend in episodes of the Playboy After Dark TV series in 1968.

Born Barbara Klein (the more Playboy-friendly name was suggested by Hefner, of course) in New York and growing up in California, Benton was primarily an actress, appearing in a few unsuccessful movies as well as in the TV show Hee Haw. Between 1978 and ’81, she had three cameos playing three different characters on the Love Boat. In the meantime, she recorded six albums (including a live set) between 1974 and 1988, scoring a country chart top 5 hit in 1975 with Brass Buckles. She also appeared several times in Playboy, making it to the cover in July 1969, March 1970, May 1972 and October 1985 — but never as a Playmate.

Benton first released Ain’t That Just The Way, which she co-wrote with film composer Stu Philips, as a single in 1976, possibly for the TV series McCloud, which Philips scored. Benton re-recorded a slowed-down version of the song, produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover, for her 1978 album of the same title. The version featured here is the 1976 single.

Ain’t That Just The Way song was covered in 1977 by Dutch singer Patricia Paay, retitled Poor Jeremy. Two decades later, American R&B singer McNeal had a big hit throughout Europe with her version, restored to its original title, reaching #5 in Britain and the top 10 in every European chart, as well as topping the Billboard Dance charts. In a bit of a twist, McNeal posed in the German edition of Hefner’s Playboy magazine in 2004.

CD-R length. Home shell-suited covers included. PW in comments.

1. Barbara Acklin – Am I The Same Girl (1968)
The Usurper: Swing Out Sister (1992)

2. Lis Sørensen – Brændt (1993)
The Usurper: Natalie Imbruglia (as Torn, 1997)

3. The Family – Nothing Compares 2 U (1985)
The Usurper: Sinead O’Connor (1990)

4. Nanci Griffith – From A Distance (1988)
The Usurper: Bette Midler (1990)

5. Keith Whitley – When You Say Nothing At All (1988)
The Usurpers: Alison Krauss (1994); Ronan Keating (1999)

6. John Michael Montgomery – I Swear (1994)
The Usurper: All-4-One (1994)

7. The Judds – Change The World (1988)
The Usurper: Eric Clapton (1996)

8. Bob Dylan – Make You Feel My Love (1997)
The Usurpers: Garth Brooks (1998); Adele (2008)

9. The Himalayans – Round Here (1991)
The Usurper: Counting Crows (1993)

10. World Party – She’s The One (1997)
The Usurper: Robbie Williams (1998)

13. Brenda Russell – Get Here (1987)
The Usurper: Oleta Adams (1990)

12. G.C. Cameron – It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday (1975)
The Usurper: Boyz II Men (1991)

13. Linda Clifford – All The Man I Need (1982)
The Usurper: Whitney Houston (1990)

14. Barbi Benton – Ain’t That Just The Way (1976)
The Usurper: Lutricia McNeal (1997)

15. Jesse Harris & The Ferdinandos – Don’t Know Why (1998)
The Usurper: Norah Jones (2001)

16. Randy Newman – You Can Leave Your Hat On (1972)
The Usurpers: Joe Cocker (1986); Tom Jones (1997)

17. Secret Garden – You Raise Me Up (2000)
The Usurper: Josh Groban (2003), Westlife (2005)

18. Betty Hutton – Blow A Fuse (1951)
The Usurper: Bjork (as It’s Oh So Quiet, 1995)

19. Anslem Douglas – Doggie (1998)
The Usurper: Basha Men (as Who Let The Dogs Out,2000)

20. Tori Alamaze – Don’t Cha (2004)
The Usurper: The Pussycat Dolls (2005)

Bonus Tracks:
Horst Winter – Und jetzt ist es still (1948)
The Usurpers: Betty Hutton (as Blow A Fuse, 1951); Björk (as It’s Oh So Quiet, 1995)
John Michael Montgomery – I Can Love You Like That (1995)
The Usurper: All-4-One (1995)
Billy Joel – To Make You Feel My Love (1997)
The Usurpers: Garth Brooks (1998); Adele (2008)
Shalamar – This Is For The Lover In You (1980)
The Usurper: Babyface (1997)
Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah (1984)
The Usurpers: Jeff Buckley (1994); plus thousands others

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The Originals – 1960s Vol. 1

April 25th, 2019 7 comments

 

In this instalment of The Originals we look at some of the lesser-known first releases of songs that would become huge 1960s hits for others, starting with (what I will assume is) the innocence of My Boy Lollipop and ending with the national anthem of Orgasmia. There are 30 songs on the mix; I’m telling the story of 17 of them. Of the remaining 13, it may be noted that two were written by Laura Nyro, the one featured here in her first recording and the later Blood, Sweat & Tears hit And When I Die.

So, get a good cup of the hit beverage of your choice, settle in and enjoy the journey through the originals of 1960s classics.

 

My Boy Lollipop

Millie’s My Boy Lollipop, widely regarded as the first crossover ska hit which helped give reggae a mainstream audience. In its original version, My Boy Lollypop (note the original spelling) was a song recorded in 1956 by the white R&B singer Barbie Gaye, at 15 two years younger than Millie Small was when she had a hit with the cover in 1964.

As so often in pop history, the story of the song’s authorship is cloaked in controversy. By most accounts, it was written by Bobby Spencer of the doo wop band The Cadillacs, with the group’s manager, Johnny Roberts, getting co-writer credit. Barbie Gaye’s single became a very minor hit, championed by the legendary rock & roll DJ Alan Freed. It was Spencer’s misfortune to come into contact with the notorious mafia-connected record executive and music publisher Morris Levy, who implausibly claimed that he had in fact written My Boy Lollypop, using the moniker R Spencer as a pseudonym. The real Spencer was later reinstated on the credits which nonetheless still list Levy as a co-writer. Levy’s name is attached to other classics which he had no hand in writing, such as Lee Dorsey’s Ya Ya, Frankie Lymon’s Why Do Fools Fall In Love, and The Rivieras’ California Sun. We’ll encounter him again in the story of the next song in this post.

My Boy Lollipop was revived in 1964 by Chris Blackwell, boss of the nascent Island Records label in England, which had recorded no big hit yet. He chose young Millicent Small to record it. As half of the duo Roy & Millie she had already enjoyed a hit with We’ll Meet in Jamaica. Her version changed Island’s fortunes: the song became a worldwide hit, reaching #2 in both US and UK. Island, of course, went on to become the label of Bob Marley, Roxy Music, Robert Palmer and U2.

Hanky Panky

Among the inhabitants of cubicles with pianos at the Brill Building in New York were Ellie Greenwich (who in her earlier singing had named herself Ellie Gaye in tribute to Barbie Gaye) and her husband Jeff Barry, who together wrote so many of the songs we now associate with Phil Spector’s girl groups. In 1963, Greenwich and Barry recorded a demo of a song called What A Guy. It was intended for a doo-wop group called The Sensations, but the band’s label, Jubilee, was so impressed with demo’s girl-band style (which was in fact Greenwich’s multi-tracked voice, with Barry providing bass voice) that they decided to release it, in the name of the songwriters’ band, The Raindrops.

Trouble was that Greenwich and Barry had no song for the flip-side, so they thrashed out Hanky Panky in the space of 20 minutes. They were not particularly satisfied with the song, and when a group called The Summits released it soon after as the b-side of He’s An Angel (or it might have been released before What A Guy came out; it’s unclear), it didn’t do brisk business either.

And yet, the song had become popular among garage rock live bands, including one called The Spinners (not the soul band), from whom the teenage musician Tommy Jackson heard it. He recorded it with his band, The Shondells, in 1964 at a radio station in Michigan. It was a local hit, but Tommy decided to break up his band and complete his schooling. The following year he was contacted by a Pittsburgh DJ who had discovered the record and now wanted Tommy and his Shondells to perform it on air. He hurriedly put together a new line-up of Shondells, and changed his name to Tommy James. He then sold the 1964 master to Roulette Records, which released it without remixing, never mind re-recording it. The single went to #1 in July 1966. James later explained in a Billboard interview: “I don’t think anybody can record a song that bad and make it sound good. It had to sound amateurish like that.”

There is a great story of how the small New York-based Roulette label got to release Hanky Panky. It seems that a whole gang of labels, some of them majors, wanted to buy the record. Suddenly, one after another, they withdrew their offers, much to Tommy James’ surprised dismay. In the end Jerry Wexler of Atlantic told the singer, still a teenager, what was going on: Roulette’s Morris Levy (on whom The Soprano’s Hesch Rabkin is based) had called all rival labels telling them that Hanky Panky belonged to him. Intimidated, the rivals bought the bluff, and James had to go with Levy.

Needles And Pins
Needles And Pins was written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nietzsche and first recorded by the vastly underrated Jackie DeShannon in 1963, crossing the Atlantic the same year in Petula Clark’s version before the Searchers finally scored a hit with it in 1964 (DeShannon’s version, while not a hit in the US, topped the Canadian charts). The story goes that The Searchers first heard Needles And Pins being performed by Cliff Bennett at the Star Club in Hamburg and immediately decided that the song should be their next single. It became the second of their three UK #1 hits. They did retain DeShannon’s pronunciation of “now-ah”, “begins-ah” and “pins-ah”.

 

I’m Into Something Good
In the late 1950s Ethel “Earl-Jean” McCrea was a member of the R&B girl group The Cookies, which was absorbed into Ray Charles’ backing band, The Raelettes. Only Earl-Jean didn’t join the backing singer gig, instead becoming part of a new incarnation of The Cookies, who recorded the original of The Beatles’ Chains.

The Cookies did much demo work for Carole King and Gerry Goffin at Aldon Music, doing backing vocals on pop songs such as Little Eva’s The Loco-motion (it was through Earl-Jean’s recommendation that King and Goffin employed Little Eva as a babysitter) and Neil Sedaka’s Breaking Up Is Hard To Do. Along the way, they had a top ten hit with Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby.

Earl-Jean left The Cookies in 1964 to try for a solo career, and it was King and Goffin who wrote her first (and only) solo hit: I’m Into Something Good, released on Colpix Records. It did a creditable job, climbing to #38 in the Billboard charts. Alas, her follow-up single, Randy, didn’t do as well, and when in 1966 Colpix folded, her solo career was over.

In Britain, the record producer Mickey Most – fresh from discovering The Animals – had heard I’m Into Something Good, and decided it was a perfect vehicle for his new protéges, Herman’s Hermits. The single became a UK #1 hit in September 1964, and then went on to reach #13 in the US, ringing in a golden period for Herman’s Hermits, who remarkably became the best-selling act in the United States in 1965, ahead of even The Beatles

Galveston

Jimmy Webb sat on the beach of Galveston on the hurricane-plagued Gulf of Mexico when he wrote this song, which might appear to be about the “Spanish-American War” (which we really should call the Cuban Independence War) but was just as applicable to the Vietnam War, which in 1966 was starting to heat up (“While I watch the cannons flashing, I clean my gun and dream of Galveston” and “I’m so afraid of dying”). The composer subsequently said it was about the Vietnam War but at other times also denied it. Whatever Webb had in mind, its theme is universal about any soldier who’d rather be home than on the killing fields.

The original of Galveston was recorded by the relatively obscure Don Ho, a Hawaiian lounge singer and TV star who was known for appearing with red shades and died in 2007 aged 76. Campbell later said that, while in Hawaii, Ho turned him om to Galveston. Campbell sped it up a bit to create his moving version. Apparently, after “giving” the song to Campbell, Ho would not sing it any more.

Gentle On My Mind
Another Glen Campbell hit. Even without a chorus, Gentle On My Mind made a great impact when it first appeared in the late 1960s. John Hartford, who wrote the song, picked up two Grammys for best folk performance and best country song, but that was eclipsed by Glen Campbell, for whom it became a signature tune (literally; it was the theme of his 1969-72 TV show, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, on which Hartford frequently appeared). Campbell, who discovered the song when he heard Hartford’s record on the radio, also won two Grammys for his version, for best country recording and solo performance.

Gentle On My Mind was not a typical John Hartford number. The singer is better known for his bluegrass roots which found expression in his accomplished use of the banjo and fiddle (shortly before his death at 63 in 2001, Hartford won another Grammy for his contributions to the bluegrass soundtrack for the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?). Hartford – the son of a New York doctor who grew up in St Louis and later acquired a steamboat pilot licence – said that he wrote Gentle On My Mind after watching the film Doctor Zhivago. “While I was writing it, if I had any idea that was going to be a hit, it probably would have come out differently and it wouldn’t have been a hit. That just came real fast, a blaze, a blur.” The song is said to have spawned some 300 cover versions.

 

Guantanamera
A patriotic Cuban song, Guantanamera came into the US via Pete Seeger, who used it (with the translated lyrics of the island’s independence hero José Marti) to promote peace during the time of the Missile Crisis. It became a worldwide hit in 1966 in the version by easy listening crooners The Sandpipers. The song’s origins go back to 1928 at the latest, when Cuban singer Joseíto Fernández improvised commentary on current affairs to the song’s tune on his radio programme. The earliest recording of Guantanamera seems to be that made in New York by the Cuban dance band Cuarteto Caney. Led by Fernando Storch, the band (which, contrary to its name, at times had up to seven members) did much to popularise Cuban music in the US in the 1930s and ’40s.

Yeh-YehWritten by jazz musicians Rodgers Grant (piano) and Laurdine “Pat” Patrick (saxophone), Yeh-Yeh was first recorded in 1963 by Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist Mongo Santamaría, whose band Grant and Patrick were members of at the time. Still an instrumental — though Santamaría’s single version includes what might be described as vocal ticks — it appeared on his Watermelon Man album. It soon came to the attention of jazz singer Jon Hendricks, one of the great purveyors of scat singing and a third of the jazz-vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Hendricks had a long line of instrumental songs to which he added lyrics, doing so most famously for an album of Count Basie standards. Hendricks recorded Yeh-Yeh with the trio, in which Yalande Bavan had by now replaced Annie Ross, for the At Newport ’63 live album.

Here Comes The Night
Sometimes in pop, as we have already seen in this series (and see again), a song written for a particular artist is not always the first to be recorded by them. Or, in this case, by Them. Here Comes The Night was written by Bert Berns, the Brill Building graduate whose songwriting credits included Twist And Shout, Hang On Sloopy, Tell Him and Piece Of My Heart. His splendid career was cut short by his sudden death at 39 from a heart attack in late 1967. Somehow, possibly because they were labelmates on Decca with Them, Lulu & the Luvvers (she ditched the backing band in 1966; the same year Van Morrison ditched Them) got to go first with Here Comes The Night in 1964. This, their third single flopped, reaching only #50 in Britain. Them’s version, with Jimmy Page on guitar, was released in May 1965, peaking at #2 in the UK and #24 in the US.

 

Dream A Little Dream Of Me
Dream A Little Dream Of Me is one of those songs where one cannot pinpoint a definitive “most famous” performance or hit version. To some, it’s Mama Cass’ song. Others will remember it as Frankie Laine’s or Ella Fitzgerald’s song. Written by Fabian André and Wilbur Schwandt — there are claims that one Milton Adolphus wrote it —with lyrics by Gus Kahn, it was first recorded on 16 February 1931 by Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra, with Ozzie on vocals and Jack Teagarden on trombone, beating a recording by Wayne King’s orchestra by two days. Ozzie, who had a radio and then TV show with his wife Harriet Hilliard and two sons — the late rock & roll singer Ricky Nelson and TV producer David— got his break in 1930 when as an unknown he won a popularity poll by the New York Daily News. Realising that kiosk vendors claimed for unsold newspapers with only the torn-off front page, Ozzie and pals picked up the discarded newspapers and filled in the poll forms in their favour. The ruse worked, and throughout the 1930s, Ozzie and his orchestra enjoyed a fine run of success — even if their version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me was not a hit.

The song seems to have maintained a presence in many concert repertoires. But it made a big comeback with the versions by Laine and Fitzgerald only in 1950. It made the rounds in the jazz and easy listening circles, but it required the death of one of its co-writers to cross over into pop. Michelle Phillips of The Mamas and The Papas grew up knowing Fabian André as a family friend. When he died in 1967, after falling down an elevator shaft, she (or possibly Cass Elliott) proposed that the band record the song Michelle remembered from her childhood. A decision was made that Cass should sing it solo, and when the song was released as a single, it was credited in the US to Mama Cass with The Mamas and The Papas (elsewhere just to Mama Cass). A re-recorded version also appeared on Cass’ debut album, not coincidentally titled Dream A Little Dream.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
Pino Donaggio is best known as a composer of the scores for films such as Don’t Look Now, Carrie and Dressed To Kill. But before that, he was a big pop star in Italy, having abandoned the classical training he received as a teenager (and which prepared him for his soundtrack career) for pop after performing with Paul Anka in the late 1950s.

He performed Io che non vivo (senza te), which he wrote with Vito Pallavicini, at the San Remo Festival in 1965 with the country singer Jody Miller. Dusty Springfield was there and then asked Vicki Wickham, producer of the British music TV show Ready Steady Go! and a songwriter, to set the song to English lyrics for her. Wickham asked Simon Napier-Bell (one-time manager of the Yardbirds, Marc Bolan and Wham!) to help her. Napier-Bell later remembered that they wrote the lyrics in a taxi. Springfield’s version (reportedly recorded in 47 takes) was released in 1966 and became one of her signature hits.

Universal Soldier

Early in the Vietnam War, Canadian folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie saw an injured soldier return from active duty and decided to write an anti-war song. It would become one of the most potent songs in the peace movement, even if her good advice to you and me evidently has not been taken. By her own account, the song was written in a Toronto café to impress a college professor, Buffy, then in her early 20s, sold the rights to Universal Soldier to a man she had just met in Greenwich Village’s Gaslight Café, for a dollar (the contract was written on a paper napkin). Two decades later she bought the rights back for $25,000. In the interim, she made it on the White House’s blacklist for her anti-Vietnam and Native American rights activities, spent five years on Sesame Street (on which she breastfed her child), in 1966 became the first singer to release a quadraphonic album (4.0 stereo) and apparently the first to release an album on the Internet (in 1991). She also co-wrote Up Where We Belong, the hit for Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes from 1981’s An Officer And A Gentleman, with then-husband Jack Nitzsche.

The year before Sainte-Marie released Universal Soldier on her 1964 debut album, It’s My Way, it was recorded by folk-group The Highwaymen (not to be confused with the country supergroup), who enjoyed their commercial peak in 1960 with the hit version of Michael (Row The Boat Ashore). It’s not clear how the Highwaymen got to record Universal Soldier first; one may guess that they were given the song by Buffy’s new friend from the Gaslight Café. Released as a single and on the group’s penultimate album, March On Brothers, it was not a huge success.

Universal Soldier’s breakthrough came with the version by Scottish folkie Donovan, who released it in 1965 at the age of 19, having already two UK Top 10 hits with Catch The Wind and Colours. Young Mr Leitch’s softer version, which adopted Buffy’s arrangement (and using strange pronunciation of the name Dachau). Released as an EP in Britain, it topped the EP charts there and reached #14 in the singles charts.

 

Green, Green Grass Of Home
Written by Claude “Curly” Putman Jr, the execution ballad Green, Green Grass Of Home was first recorded by Johnny Darrell, the ill-fated associate of the Outlaw Country movement. Darrell’s 1965 version failed to make much of a splash, but country star Porter Wagoner did gain some attention with his recording made in June 1965. Both versions communicate empathy with the protagonist, a dead-man-walking who is awakening from a dream of being reunited in freedom with the scenes of his childhood but in fact is awaiting his execution in the presence of the “old padre” (not “peartree” or “partridge”).

Tom Jones was introduced to the song through Jerry Lee Lewis’ version, also a country affair recorded a few months after Wagoner’s, and proceeded to turn it into hackneyed easy listening, selling more than a million records of it in 1966. Who said pop was fair?

Those Were The Days
It’s difficult to say which version of the Mary Hopkin hit Those Were The Days should be regarded as the original. Strictly speaking, it’s a Russian song called Dorogoi dlinnoyu, which was first recorded in 1925 by Georgian singer Tamara Tsereteli. It reached the West in 1953 when it was sung by Russian singer Ludmila Lopato in the film Innocents in Paris. It was subsequently recorded by folk icon Theodore Bikel. Enter Greenwich Village folkie type and playwright Gene Raskin who wrote English lyrics for his singer-wife Francesca, and then summarily copyrighted not only the words but the music as well.

Folk band The Limeliters first recorded the song in 1962. Six years later Paul McCartney heard it performed by the Raskins in a London club, and decided Mary Hopkin should record it on Apple Records. She did and had a worldwide hit with it. The song would be used in ads, and Raskin – by then an academic who surely reviled plagiarism – became very rich from the royalties. Today he’d be sued to kingdom come, but those were the days…

 

Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying
It’s not really fair to call Gerry & The Pacemakers “usurpers” of Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying, since the song was written by Gerry Marsden and his fellow Pacemakers. But before they could record it, Decca had teenage singer Louise Cordet commit it to record. Cordet, who had a minor single hit in 1962 with I’m Just A Baby, was among the supporting acts ion the 1963 Beatles/Roy Orbison tour of the UK. Also on the bill were Gerry & The Pacemakers. And it was their George Martin-produced version of Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying that became a huge hit soon after Cordet released her record. Cordet is the god-daughter of Prince Philip, on account of her parents’ friendship with the exiled Greek royals, and the mother of singer-songwriter Alexi Murdoch.

Good Lovin’
One of the defining songs of the 1960s, Good Lovin’ was first recorded by soul singer Lemme B. Good, but co-writer Rudy Clark wasn’t happy with the lyrics. Soon after, soul group The Olympics recorded the song with tweaked lyrics. Their Jerry Ragavoy-produced version was recorded with practically the same arrangement by The Rascals, who had the huge hit with it. Lemme B. Goode, real name Limmie Snell, went on to found Limmie & Family Cookin’ which had two UK Top 10 hits in the 1970s.

Je t’aime… moi non plus
The story goes that the national anthem of Orgasmia, Je t’aime… moi non plus, was written in 1967 by Serge Gainsbourg at the request of Brigitte Bardot, who did record it but asked Gainsbourg to withdraw its release. Her version came out in 1986, almost two decades after Jane Birkin had a hit with it. Bardot’s version is the first recorded with that title and that arrangement. But already in 1966 the Gainsbourg composition was recorded under the title Scène de Bal by arranger Michel Colombier for the film Les cœurs verts. So effectively there are three originals: Colombier’s Scène de Bal, Bardot’s unreleased recording, and Birkin’s 1969 release.

As always, the mix fits on a standard CD-R and includes covers. PW in comments.

1. Barbie Gaye – My Boy Lollipop (1956)
The Usurper: Millie (1964)

2. Earl-Jean – I’m Into Something Good (1964)
The Usurper: Herman”™s Hermits (1964)

3. The Exciters – Do-Wah-Diddy (1963)
The Usurper: Manfred Mann (1964)

4. The Four Voices – Sealed With A Kiss (1960)
The Usurper: Brian Hyland (1962)

5. Jackie DeShannon – Needles And Pins (1963)
The Usurper: The Searchers (1964)

6. The Raindrops – Hanky Panky (1965)
The Usurper: Tommy James and the Shondells (1966)

7. The Outsiders – Bend Me, Shape Me (1966)
The Usurper: The American Breed (1967)

8. Lulu & The Luvvers – Here Comes The Night (1964)
The Usurper: Them (1965)

9. The Valentinos – It’s All Over Now (1964)
The Usurper: The Rolling Stones (1964)

10. Frankie Valli – The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore (1965)
The Usurper: The Walker Brothers (1966)

11. Peter, Paul & Mary – And When I Die (1966)
The Usurper: Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969)

12. The Highwaymen – Universal Soldier (1963)
The Usurper: Donovan (1965)

13. The Limeliters – Those Were The Days (1962)
The Usurper: Mary Hopkin (1968)

14. Cuarteto Caney – Guajira Guantanamera (1938)
The Usurper: The Sandpipers (as Guantanamera, 1966)

15. Mongo Santamaria – Yeh-Yeh (1963)
The Usurper: Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (1965)

16. Ozzie Nelson and his Orchestra – Dream A Little Dream Of Me (1931)
The Usurper: The Mamas & The Papas (1968)

17. Tony Bennett – Blue Velvet (1951)
The Usurper: Bobby Vinton (1963)

18. Eddie Miller – Release Me (1950)
The Usurpers: Ray Price (1954), Engelbert Humperdinck (1967)

19. Johnny Darrell – Green, Green Grass Of Home (1965)
The Usurpers: Porter Wagoner (1965), Tom Jones (1966)

20. Don Ho with The Oak Ridge Strings – Galveston (1968)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1969)

21. Pino Donaggio – Io che non vivo (senza te) (1965)
The Usurper: Dusty Springfield (as You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, 1965)

22. Louise Cordet – Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying (1964)
The “Usurper”: Gerry and the Pacemakers (1964)

23. Laura Nyro – Wedding Bell Blues (1966)
The Usurper: The 5th Dimension (1969)

24. Lemme B. Good – Good Lovin’ (1965)
The Usurper: The Young Rascals (1966)

25. Sam the Sham & Pharaohs – Ready Or Not (Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie) (1966)
The Usurper: Jay & the Techniques (as Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie, 1967)

26. Will-O-Bees – Make You Own Kind Of Music (1968)
The Usurper: Mama Cass Elliot (1969)

27. Vicky Leandros – L’amour Est Bleu (1967)
The Usurper: Paul Mauriat (as Love Is Blue, 1967)

28. John Hartford – Gentle On My Mind (1967)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1967)

29. The Stokes – Whipped Cream (1965)
The Usurper: Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass (1965)

30. Michel Colombier – Scéne de Bal (1966)
The Usurper: Jane Birkin (as Je T’aime…Moi Non Plus, 1968)

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The Originals: Schlager edition

March 21st, 2019 6 comments

At first glance, this edition of The Originals seems narrowly aimed at Germans, but it should appeal to all fans of European and 1970s pop music.

The German Schlager has a reputation for being banal rubbish, and it’s not entirely unmerited. But the genre generated some legit entertainment and even moments of good quality. Often, those moments were the result of the Schlagermachine finding foreign songs and reproducing them for the German market. Sometimes what emerged was superior to the originals, as it was in the case of Danyel Gérard’s 1971 mammoth-hit Butterfly.

That song doesn’t feature here; only one track on this collection is the first version of a German hit sung by its original artist: Belgian singer Salvatore Adamo’s Petit Bonheur, which in German became Ein kleines Glück. The German version disproves the point I just made about teutonic production superiority. It’s a fairly strange bit of music in any version.

 

Before Giorgio Moroder became a pioneering trailblazer in Euro-disco and electronic music, he was a pop singer and Schlager producer. The Italian-born half-German came to Berlin in 1963. In 1969 he had a million-seller as Giorgio with Looky Looky, which topped the French charts. The following year he released Arizona Man, a Moog-driven, temp-changing pop number. His version went nowhere, but a German cover released shortly after gave Mary Roos her first hit.

Arguably the Schlager singer with the best strike-rate in choosing covers was Israeli-born Daliah Lavi. Four of her biggest hits were cover versions: three feature here; two were written by the same man: John Kongos. The South African singer went on to have two UK Top 10 hits (Tokoloshe Man and He’s Going To Step On You Again; both later covered by the Happy Mondays), but in 1970 his Would You Follow Me was translated into German and became a big hit for Lavi as Willst Du mit mir geh’n. The following year, the song was also covered by Olivia Newton-John.

 

Also in 1970, Kongos’ Won’t You Join Me was covered by the improbably-named Emil Dean Zoghby, who was a bit of a star in South Africa in the 1960s. Zoghby, who died in 2014 at 72, went on to be a stage actor in London and, back in South Africa, a record producer. Lavi’s cover, titled Wann kommst Du, was released in 1971.

The third original of a Lavi song is fairly well-known: Rod McKuen‘s catchy 1971 anti-war anthem Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes, which enjoyed some success in Europe, especially in the Netherlands. In Laviâ’s hands, the peace song became a love song with the title Meine Art Liebe zu zeigen, which translates as My Way Of Showing Love.

 

Another astute selector of cover versions was Michael Holm. Most of these were quite well-known, so this mix of lesser-known originals picks the 1969 French song Fernando by Sheila, a singer whom the world of pop would get to know better as the lead of Sheila B. and The Devotions. Fernando – which was co-written by Danyel Vangarde, who’d later co-write hits such as the Gibson Brothers’ Cuba and Ottawan’s DISCO – became a Spanish hit as Un rayo de sol by Los Diablos, and for Michael Holm in Germany as Wie der Sonnenschein. Holm featured himself on the Christmas Originals for doing the first version of When A Child Is Born, which was itself based on an original instrumental, Le Rose blu by Ciro Dammicco (the song became later known as Soleado). Holm might feature again for doing the original of Chickory Tip’s Son Of My Father, which he co-wrote with Giorgio Moroder.

Perhaps the greatest Schlager singer-songwriter was Udo Jürgens, whose songs always stood a few steps above the standard Schlager fare. Jürgens had few needs for the songs of others, but one of his biggest hits, the cheeky seduction number Es wird Nacht Senorita of 1968, was a cover. Originally the song was recorded in 1965 as Le Rossignol Anglais by the popular French chansonnier Hugues Aufray, and the year after by Mireille Mathieu.

 

As a song travels the continent, its meaning can change. When Portuguese Brazilian singer Benito di Paula wrote and recorded his 1975 song Charlie Brown, a hit in Portugal, it was about the Peanuts character. Travelling eastwards it became a discofied number by Belgian outfit Two Man Sound (whose dance moves must be seen). Retaining the original lyrics, it was a huge hit in Belgium and Italy. But when it came to Germany, the hit version by Benny was no longer about the depressed protagonist of Charles M Schulz’s cartoon but about a promiscuous guy who beds every woman “between Mexico and Paraguay”, even your girlfriend.

One song here might just as well have featured in a 1970s edition of The Originals. A cover of Living Next Door To Alice was a big 1977 hit for Smokie. But it features here on strength of a cover of the Smokie version by South African-born Schlager balladeer Howard Carpendale, as Tür an Tür mit Alice. Originally it was recorded by Australian band New World, who had enjoyed UK Top 10 action with Tom-Tom Turnaround and Sister Jane on RAK Records, the label Smokie would later find success on. Living Next Door To Alice, recorded in 1972, flopped, however. New World’s career was over soon after when their success on the UK Opportunity Knocks talent show in 1970 became (through no fault of theirs) the focus of a results-fixing scandal.

 

Remarkably, only one song here is a German-language original of a German hit. Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn (You’ll Have To Cross Seven Bridges) was recorded in 1978 by the East-German band Karat as the theme song for a TV film. It became a massive hit in East-Germany and even won the Eastern Bloc’s version of the Eurovision Song Contest. The LP on which the song appeared did good business in West-Germany, but since East-German musicians were forbidden from appearing on western TV, the single went nowhere. When in 1980 the German rock singer Peter Maffay heard Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn, he asked the band for permission to record it. His faster version became a mega-hit. After reunification, Karat and Maffay re-recorded the song together. It has become something of a German anthem.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-schunkeled covers. PW in comments.

1. Giorgio Moroder – Arizona Man (1970)
The Usurper: Mary Roos (Arizona Man, 1970)

2. John Kongos – Would You Follow Me (1971)
The Usurper: Daliah Lavi (Wann kommst Du?, 1970)

3. Hughes Aufray – Le Rossignol Anglais (1965)
The Usurper: Udo Jürgens (Es wird Nacht, Senorita, 1968)

4. Mickey – El chico de la armónica (1972)
The Usurper: Bernd Clüver (Der Junge mit der Mundharmonika, 1972)

5. Emil Dean Zoghby – Won’t You Join Me (1970)
The Usurper: Daliah Lavi (Willst Du mit mir geh’n, 1971)

6. Martinho Da Vila – Canta Canta, Minha Gente (1974)
The Usurper: Nana Mouskourie (Guten Morgen Sonnenschein, 1977)

7. Michel Delpech – Pour Un Flirt (1971)
The Usurper: Randolph Rose (Nur ein Flirt, 1971)

8. Adamo – Petit bonheur (1969)
The Usurper: Adamo (Ein kleines Glück, 1970)

9. Tom Jones – The Young New Mexican Puppeteer (1972)
The Usurper: Robert Blanco (Der Puppenspieler aus Mexiko, 1972)

10. Sheila – Fernando (1969)
The Usurper: Michael Holm (Wie der Sonnenschein, 1970)

11. Rod McKuen – Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes (1971)
The Usurper: Daliah Lavi (Meine Art, Liebe zu zeigen, 1973)

12. Karat – Über sieben Brücken mußt du gehn (1978)
The Usurper: Peter Maffay (1980)

13. Benito di Paula – Charlie Brown (1975)
The Usurper: Benny (Amigo Charlie, 1976)

14. New World – Living Next Door To Alice (1972)
The Usurpers: Smokie (1976), Howard Carpendale (Tür an Tür mit Alice)

15. The Bellamy Brothers – Crossfire (1977)
The Usurper: Hoffmann & Hoffmann (Himbeereis zum Frühstück, 1977)

16. Vader Abraham – ‘t Kleine Café Aan De Haven (1975)
The Usurper: Peter Alexander (Die kleine Kneipe, 1976)

17. Jim Lowe – Gambler’s Guitar (1952)
The Usurper: Fred Bertelmann (Der lachende Vagabund, 1957)

18. Domenico Modugno – Piove (Ciao Ciao Bambina) (1959)
The Usurper: Caterina Valente (Tschau Tschau Bambina, 1959)

19. Eydie Gorme – Blame It On The Bossa Nova (1963)
The Usurper: Manuela (Schuld War Nur Der Bossa Nova, 1963)

20. Beniamino Gigli – Mamma (1960)
The Usurper: Heintje (Mama, 1969)

21. Carlos Francisco with Orchestra – La Paloma (1904)
The Usurper: Mireille Mathieu (La Paloma Adieu, 1973)

Bonus Track: Masquerade – Guardian Angel (1983)
The Usurper: Nino de Angelo (Jenseits von Eden, 1983)

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The Originals: Carpenters edition

January 31st, 2019 7 comments

 

 

The Carpenters drew heavily from often not very well known songs, making them their own in the process. This was not so, however, with what is widely regarded at their signature tune: Close To You had been recorded a few times before the Carpenters got their turn in 1970.

Close To You

It started out as a humble b-side to actor Richard Chamberlain‘s 1963 single Blue Guitar. Within a year both Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield had recorded it, though Dusty’s version was not released until 1967, on her lovely Where Am I Going? LP.

Composer Burt Bacharach was not happy with either of the hitherto published versions when he offered the song to Herb Alpert, who had in 1968 recorded a rather good version of Bacharach’s This Guy’s In Love With You. Alpert, however, declined to do Close To You (apparently he didn’t like the line about sprinkling “moondust in your hair”), and gave the song to the Carpenters, who had released their debut LP on Alpert’s A&M label. A similarly hesitant Richard Carpenter and Alpert arranged the song — with the latter’s prominent trumpet track — and created aversion Bacharach was happy with.

Hurting Each Other

The secret in the Carpenters’ successful appropriation of appropriating songs first recorded by other people owes in part to an astuteness in often picking songs that weren’t very well known. Once Richard Carpenter imprinted his imaginative arrangements and Karen her marvellous vocals on such a song, it almost invariably was theirs. And so it was with Hurting Each Other, which the siblings recorded in late 1971. It appeared on their excellent 1972 album, A Song For You, and the single reached #2 on the US charts.

Hurting Each Other was written by Gary Geld and Peter Udell, whose songwriting credits also included Brian Hyland’s Sealed With A Kiss (another song that has a history as a lesser-known original). The first recording of the song was released in 1965 by teen idol Jimmy Clanton, a white R&B singer from Baton Rouge who had a string of hits in what has been called “swamp pop” and then faded into the sort of obscurity that has nonetheless ensured a performing career that continues to this day, complemented by a line in radio DJing.

 

Superstar

The genius of the Carpenters resided with their ability, through Richards’s arrangements and Karen’s emotional investment, to make other people’s songs totally theirs. In the case of Superstar, they not only took the song but also usurped its meaning. Sung by Karen Carpenter it no longer is the groupie’s lament it was written as. Indeed, in its first incarnation, by Delaney & Bonnie in 1969, the song was titled Groupie (Superstar), and included more explicit lyrics (“I can hardly wait to sleep with you” became “…be with you”). Released as a b-side, the song was written by the original performers with Leon Russell, and Eric Clapton featured on the recording. A few months later, former Delaney & Bonnie backing singer Rita Coolidge recorded it. According to Leon Russell, she had come up with the concept for it and Delaney Bramlett said she had helped with the harmonies.

But it was Bette Midler’s performance of the song on the Tonight Show in August 1970 that alerted Richard Carpenter, who hadn’t heard the song before, to it. It is said that Karen’s first take, read from a napkin, is the one that which made it on to the record.

A Song For You/This Masquerade

One singer features twice here: Leon Russell (plus, of course, his co-writing credit on Superstar). He released A Song for You on his eponymous debut album in 1970. It was covered to superb effect by Donny Hathaway and to some commercial success by Andy Williams, but it was the Carpenters’ 1972 version which brought the song to an international mainstream audience. The Carpenters recorded This Masquerade a year after it originally appeared on Russell’s 1972 Carney album. In their hands it becomes quite a different animal, doing away with the long movie-theme style intro; and Karen’s voice is rather more pleasing to the ear than Russel’s idiosyncratic growls. Oddly, both Russell and the Carpenters’ used the song on b-sides of inferior singles. George Benson’s 1976 Grammy-winning version from the Breezin’ album is also worth noting.

Reason To Believe

Reason To Believe was not a hit for the man who wrote and first recorded it, Tim Hardin. A gifted songwriter, he enjoyed his biggest hit with somebody else’s song, Bobby Darin’s twee Simple Song of Freedom, which Darin wrote in return for Hardin providing his big comeback hit If I Were A Carpenter. Darin, by then in his folk phase, also did a very credible version of Reason To Believe. Hardin’s story is tragic. As a marine in Vietnam in the early 1960s he discovered heroin and became addicted to the drug. Added to that, he suffered from terrible stagefright, which is not helpful when you are an entertainer. He died at 39 on 29 December 1980 from a heroin and morphine overdose, just over two years before Karen followed him.

 

It’s Going To Take Some Time

In 1972, Richard Carpenter was going through a stack of singles to see what he could cover for the A Song For You album when he stumbled on Carole King’s It’s Going To Take Some Time, which King had recorded for her Tapestry follow-up, Music. King, who was no slouch when it came to arranging a song, later admiringly noted of the lush Carpenters version (with that great flute solo) that her original sounds by comparison like a demo.

 

Can’t Smile Without You

It’s not really fair to include Can’t Smile Without You in this mix, seeing as it is better known in the 1978 version by Barry Manilow. But the Carpenters recorded it a year before him, and even then it was a cover of an original from 1975 by British singer David Martin, one of the song’s four writers. Martin has had a greater career as a songwriter and occasional producer than as a singer, even if he has toured with the James Last Orchestra. As a songwriter, his songs were recorded by the likes of Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw, The Hep Stars (the Swedish ’60s group future ABBA man Benny Anderson belonged to), Al Martino, David Essex, Edison Lighthouse, Sacha Distel and others.

 

Sing

One of a stranger sources for a pop hit must be Sesame Street, even if the show’s staff writers wrote some catchy numbers. One of those catchy numbers was Sing, written by the greatest of those Sesame Street writers, Joe Raposo, who also wrote the show’s theme and the immortal C Is For Cookie, which is good enough for me. After it was sung on Sesame Street and released under the moniker The Kids, Barbra Streisand recorded a version which did some business. Richard Carpenter heard it on a TV variety show and thought it had potential. It clearly did, at least for people who can stomach children’s choirs.

 

We’ve Only Just Begun

Finally, the best story left for last. We’ve Only Just Begun first made its appearance in 1970 in a TV commercial for a bank (video), whence it was picked up by Richard Carpenter to create the popular wedding staple. But before Richard and Karen got around to it, it was recorded a few months earlier by Freddie Allen, an actor who under his stage name Smokey Roberds was a member of ’60s California pop group The Parade.

As Roberds tells it, one day he heard the Crocker National Bank commercial on his car radio (presumably the ad transcended media platforms), and recognised in the tune the signature of his composer friend Roger Nichols, who had written the ad’s song with lyricist Paul Williams. He phoned Nichols, ascertained that he had indeed co-written it, and asked him to create a full-length version. Nichols and Williams did so, and Roberds intended to produce it for a band he had just signed to White Whale Records. The deal fell through, so Roberds decided to record the song himself, but couldn’t do so under his stage name for contractual reasons. Since he was born Fred Allen Roberds, his Christian names provided his new, temporary moniker.

Paul Williams’ memory is slightly different: in his version, Nichols and he had added verses to subsequent updates of the advert, and completed a full version in case anyone wanted to record it. When Richard Carpenter heard the song in the commercial, he contacted Williams to ask if there was a full version, and Williams said there was — and he would have lied if there wasn’t. Perhaps that happened before Allen recorded it. (Full interview here)

The remarkable Williams, incidentally, sang the song in the ad and would later write Rainy Days And Mondays and I Won’t Last A Day Without You for the Carpenters (both with Nichols), as well as Barbra Streisand’s Evergreen, Kermit the Frog’s The Rainbow Connection and the Love Boat theme, among others.

Freddie Allen’s single, a likable country-pop affair, did well in California, but not nationally, which he attributed to promotion and distribution problems. Released a few months later, the Carpenters had their third hit with We’ve Only Just Begun, reaching #2 in the US.

As ever, CD-R length, home-masqueraded covers, PW the same as always.

1. Leon Russell – A Song For You (1970)
2. Delaney & Bonnie – Groupie (Superstar) (1969)
3. Carole King – It’s Going To Take Some Time (1970)
4. Jimmy Clanton – Hurting Each Other (1965)
5. Richard Chamberlain – They Long To Be Close To You (1964)
6. Freddie Allen – We’ve Only Just Begun (1970)
7. Larry Meredith – For All We Know (1970)
8. Leon Russell – This Masquerade (1972)
9. Tim Hardin – Reason To Believe (1966)
10. New Vaudeville Band – Ther’s A Kind Of Hush (1966)
11. Hank Williams with his Drifting Cowboys – Jambalaya (On The Bayou) (1952)
12. The Marvelettes – Please Mr. Postman (1961)
13. Neil Sedaka – Solitaire (1972)
14. Righteous Brothers – All You Get From Love Is A Love Song (1975)
15. David Martin – Can’t Smile Without You (1975)
16. Bama – Touch Me When We’re Dancing (1979)
17. Klaatu – Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft (1976)
18. The Kids – Sing (1971)

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Any Major Originals: The 1970s

November 15th, 2018 15 comments

 

This is the first mix of lesser-known originals of 1970s hits; truth be told, for the most part the hit versions were a marked improvement on the first versions. I do prefer Badfinger’s version of Without You and Billy Preston’s You Are So Beautiful to the more famous versions. But more interesting than the musical merits are some of the backstories. And few are as dramatic as that of Without You, a mega hit for first Harry Nilsson in 1972 and in the 1990s for Mariah Carey.

Without You

There is something dismal about the notion that a pop classic would be best-known among some people in its incarnation by Mariah Carey. Those with a more acute sense of pop history will have been dismissive of Carey’s calorific cover of Nilsson’s hit. But even Harry Nilsson applied a generous dose of schmaltz to his cover of the Badfinger original.

Without You apart, there is a chain of tragedy which links the Welsh band and Nilsson. Both acts had a Lennon connection (more tragedy here, of course). Badfinger were signed to the Beatles’ Apple label, on which Without You was released in 1970; Nilsson was a collaborator with and drinking buddy of Lennon’s. Nilsson died fairly young, so did two members of Badfinger — both of whom wrote Without You and committed suicide.

Singer Peter Ham killed himself in 1975 (in his suicide note he referred to their “heartless bastard” of a manager), and in 1983, Tom Evans hanged himself after an argument over royalties for the song with former colleague Joey Molland (who both had played on Lennon’s Imagine album and other ex-Beatles solo records).

Nilsson reportedly thought that Badfinger’s Without You had been a Beatles recording — indeed, the Rolling Stone touted Badfinger as the Beatles’ heirs. His version, turning a fairly rough mid-tempo rock song into an orchestral power ballad (at a time when such things were rare) became a massive hit in 1972; Carey’s version hit the charts just a week after Nilsson’s death in 1994. One may fear the worst for Ms Carey should the Nilsson curse strike her: apart from the sad story of Badfinger and Lennon’s death, both Mama Cass and Keith Moon died in Nilsson’s flat.

 

Fernando

ABBA famously did not cover versions; given the songwriting chops of Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, they had no need to. But one of the group’s biggest hits was a cover of sorts: Fernando was originally recorded by Anni-Frid for her Swedish-language solo album Frida Ensam (which featured several cover versions, including Life On Mars and Wall Street Shuffle). Fernando, written by Benny and Björn with lyrics by ABBA manager Stig Anderson, was the LP’s lead single and proved very popular. In 1976 ABBA released an English version, with the theme changed from being a break-up song to the reminiscence of freedom fighters.

Video Killed The Radio Star

This slice of sci-fi flavoured nostalgia, inspired by a JG Ballard story, was co-written by Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes (then new members of prog-rock band Yes) with Bruce Woolley. So it seemed right that it should be recorded by the two parties — the Yes contingent and Woolley — in 1979. The latter got in there first, with his Camera Club. It is a breathless version with much energy and a quite nice guitar solo at the end, but none of the bombastic detail which made the Buggles’ synth-fiesta a huge hit.

The Buggles version is sometimes considered a bit naff, which does great injustice to a catchy song which does everything that is required of a very great pop song. The video of the Buggles version was the first ever to be played by MTV. But the Woolley version is all but forgotten.

Hanging On The Telephone

If it is not widely known that Blondie’s 1979 hit Hanging On The Telephone is a cover, then it probably is because the original performers, The Nerves, only ever released a (very good) four-track EP in 1976, which included the song. The Nerves — a trio comprising songwriter Jack Lee, Paul Collins (who’d later join The Beat) and Peter Case (later of the Plimsouls) — were a heavy-gigging LA-based rock band which despite their extremely brief recording career proved to be influential on the US punk scene. The members of Blondie surely have were aware of the song. A year after The Nerves split, Debbie Harry and pals picked up the song and enjoyed a huge worldwide hit with it.

 

Blame It On The Boogie

How many cover versions have been sung by the namesake of the original performer? Mick Jackson was a German-born English pop singer. His Blame It On The Boogie, which he also co-wrote, sounds like a presentable Leo Sayer number. The Jacksons changed little in the song’s structure — Mick’s original has all the touches we know well, such as the “sunshine, moonlight, good time, boogie” interlude — and yet they turned a pretty good song into a disco explosion of joy, presaging Michael’s Off The Wall a year and a bit later.

Mick Jackson actually wrote the song with Stevie Wonder in mind (and it’s easy to imagine how it might have sounded), but was persuaded by a German label to record it himself. When the freshly-minted record was played at a music festival in Cannes, a rep for the Jacksons — no doubt alerted by the performer’s name — secretly taped the song, flew it to the US and had the Jackson brothers record and release it in quick time, to release it before Mick could have a hit with it. With both singles out at the same time, the British press had some fun with the Jackson “Battle of the Boogie”. Mick’s single reached #15 in the UK and #61 in the US. The Jacksons’ version became the classic.

He Ain’t Heavy…

The Hollies’ guitarist Tony Hicks was desperately looking for a song to record when he was played a demo of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. The band decided to record it without great expectations, with Reg Dwight (who would become Elton John) on piano. Of course, it became a mega-hit and pop classic. But the Hollies were not the first to record it.

The song had already been released by Kelly Gordon in April 1969 — five months before the Hollies’ version — as a single and on his Defunked album (the single’s b-side was That’s Life, a song Gordon had co-written five years earlier, but had been recorded before and made famous by Frank Sinatra). The original of He Ain’t Heavy by Gordon, more active as a producer than a singer, is slower and more mournful. Based on his interpretation, the publishers thought it would be a good song for Joe Cocker to record. And it would have been, but Cocker turned the song down.

He Ain’t Heavy was written by Bobby Scott (who wrote A Taste Of Honey) and the older veteran lyricist Bob Russell (Little Green Apples), who was already ailing with cancer and died at 55 in February 1970, just after the song had become a worldwide hit.

There is much speculation as to the origin of the title; most commonly it is believed that the line was inspired by Father Edward Flannagan, the founder of Boys Town, who had adopted it as the organisation’s motto, reputedly after spotting a cartoon of a boy carrying another in a corporate publication named Louis Allis Messenger, that was captioned “He ain’t heavy Mister – he’s m’ brother!” It was not a new line; it had been used in literature and magazine articles before, and supposedly provided the punchline for a Native American folk story.

I Hear You Knocking

Smiley Lewis feature with another song when we visited the Elvis originals. Here he provided the original for an early ’70s hit. Lewis, a New Orleans musician nicknamed for his missing front teeth, recorded I Hear You Knocking in 1955. The song was written by Dave Bartholomew and Pearl King. The former was Fats Domino’s writing partner, and Fats naturally later recorded the song.

At a time when US radio and charts were subject to much racial segregation, Lewis’ record made little impact outside the black charts, where it peaked at #2, and Lewis’ career never really took off. Instead the song enjoyed commercial success in its version by Gale Storm in 1956. Lewis died of stomach cancer in 1966.

Four years later, he would be remembered by the Welsh singer Dave Edmunds, whose cover of I Hear You Knocking reached #1 in Britain and #4 in the US with slightly altered lyrics which namecheck Lewis, among others (including Huey Smith, who played on Lewis’ version). Edmunds himself hadn’t known the song until he produced a version of it for the young Shakin’ Stevens — a decade away from fame as a revivalist rock ‘n’ roller and Christmas #1 hunter. In fact, Edmunds almost didn’t record what would become his biggest hit. He had planned to find stardom with a cover of Wilbert Harrison’s Let’s Work Together, but was scooped in that endeavour by Canned Heat (as we’ll see below). So he adapted the arrangement he had in mind for Let’s Work Together to create a truly original cover.

Let’s Stick Together
When Wilbert Harrison released Let’s Work Together in 1969, it was a slightly customised take on his 1961 song Let’s Stick Together. For all intents and purposes, it is the same song. Where Stick Together failed to make an impression, its reworked version was a minor US hit. Canned Heat, who were canny in their selection of obscure songs to cover, recorded their version soon after and scored a hit with it in 1970. To their credit, Canned Heat delayed the US release of the single to let Harrison’s single run its course first.

In 1976 Bryan Ferry took the song to #4 on the UK charts, having reverted to the original title, introduced some thumping saxophone and applied the suave working-class-boy-gone-posh vocals. Outside Roxy Music, everybody’s favourite fox-hunting Tory never did anything better. Thanks to Wilbert Harrison’s retitling, it is now evident which version — Canned Heat’s or Ferry’s — has inspired subsequent covers.

 

You Are So Beautiful

Few noises in mainstream pop history have been as disturbing as Joe Cocker’s croaked note at the end of that staple of soppy love songs, You Are So Beautiful. Some people might regard the song best crooned by Homer Simpson, but they are probably not familiar with Billy Preston‘s rather good original.

The song was written by Preston and his songwriting partner Bruce Fisher, with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s uncredited lyrical contribution (Wilson would sing the song as an encore at Beach Boys gigs in the late ’70s and early ’80s). Preston’s version was recorded shortly before Cocker’s slower version in 1974. The former remained an album track, while Cocker’s version reached the US #5 in 1975 (but didn’t chart at all Britain).

Sailing

Written in 1972, the Rod Stewart hit Sailing was first recorded by the Sutherland Brothers. Having joined forces with the band Quiver, the brothers were also responsible for another possible inclusion in this series, Arms Of Mary, which readers of a certain vintage are more likely to associate with 1970s’ Chilliwack hit. The Sutherland Brothers’ version has an apt shanty feel, with the keyboard player especially having fun experimenting with his toy. Rod’s version is richer and warmer. The old soul lover recorded it, and the rest of the ludicrously cover-designed Atlantic Crossing, in that incubator of great soul music: Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

Handbags And Gladrags

The word “gladrags” is deplorably underused in pop music. So we ought to give credit to former Manfred Mann singer Mike D’Abo for popularising it in music. D’Abo didn’t immediately release it, producing British singer Chris Farlowe‘s recording of it in 1967. Farlowe had made it a bit of a career of covering Rolling Stones songs in particular; his rather good version of Out Of Time topped the UK charts in 1966, his only Top 30 hit. He didn’t do very well either with Handbags And Gladrags, which tanked at #33, great harmonica backing notwithstanding. In 1969, Rod Stewart — a shrewd operator when it comes to recording lesser known songs — recorded the track, arranged again by D’Abo himself. Released in 1970, it became a hit only two years later.

Strangely, the song has not been covered much. It made something of a comeback when it was used as the theme for the British version of The Office, produced by a session musician and writer of many TV themes, the late Big George Webley.

 

Early Morning Rain

Several artists had a bite of Early Morning Rain before the song’s writer, Gordon Lightfoot, released it (though he had already recorded it). First up were Lightfoot’s Canadian compatriots Ian & Sylvia, a folk duo discovered in 1962 by Bob Dylan’s future manager Albert Grossman, who’d also sign Lightfoot. The married twosome’s version, with a rather good bass break, appeared on their 1965 album named after Lightfoot’s song. It featured another song by the still mostly unknown Lightfoot, For Lovin’ Me, as well as the original version of Darcy Farrow.

Both Lightfoot songs recorded by Ian & Sylvia were soon covered by Peter, Paul & Mary, then by Judy Collins and by the Kingston Trio. In November 1965 it was also recorded on a demo by the Warlocks, who a month later would become the Grateful Dead, though their version would not be released till later.

Lightfoot finally released the song in January 1966, closing the A-side of his debut album, Lightfoot!, which had mostly been recorded already in December 1964.

Let Your Love Flow

That great hit of the summer of 1976, Let Your Love Flow, might have been a hit for Neil Diamond. Written by one of the lamé-jacketed star’s roadies, Larry E Williams, it was offered first to Diamond. He declined to record it (as did Johnny Rivers), which perhaps was just as well. Instead the song came to country/folk singer-songwriter Gene Cotton, who recorded it for his 1975 album For All The Young Writers.

While Cotton’s version went nowhere, Neil Diamond’s drummer suggested it to his friends David and Howard Bellamy, the country duo The Bellamy Brothers. Their recording became one of the biggest hits of the decade and gave the brothers’ their international breakthrough hit. In West Germany Let Your Love Flow topped the charts in summer 1976 for six weeks until it was knocked off by its German version, by Jürgen Drews.

Mandy

Barry Manilow appropriated other peopleâ’s songs by force of arrangement (and, obviously, commercial success). If we need proof of how much Bazza owned the songs he didn’t write, consider his giant hit Mandy. It was a cover of a ditty called Brandy by one Scott English, which was a #12 hit in Britain in 1971 (the tune was written by Richard Kerr, who wrote two other hits for Manilow, Looks Like We’ve Made It and Somewhere In The Night). Manilow’s renamed version was the first cover. None of the subsequent recordings are dedicated to Brandy. English’s version is not very good. To start with he couldn’t sing, and the production is slapdash. Manilow recorded it reluctantly, not yet sure about singing other people’s music. He slowed it down, gave it a lush arrangement, and we know how it ended.

 

I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing

The ending of the series Mad Men has Don Draper dream up the famous I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke ad campaign, which gave rise to the New Seekers’ hit I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing. Somehow, a little-known Australian squeezed in her version as the song’s original release.

In January 1971, Coca Cola were looking for ways to popularise its new slogan, “It’s the Real Thing”, which had replaced the classic “Things Go Better With Coke”. The company’s advertising agency, McCann-Erickson, brought together its creative director, Bill Backer, with songwriters Billy Davis (who had written for Motown) and Roger Cook, a member of Blue Mink. Cook already had a melody, a ditty called True Love And Apple Pie which he had written with his regular collaborator, Roger Greenway. The three wrote the words for the jingle overnight in a London hotel room, with the New Seekers in mind as its performers. As it turned out, the New Seekers thought the song was trite and not just a little silly (and that’s the New Seekers pronouncing on sentimentality).

True Love And Apple Pie was instead recorded by the little-known Susan Shirley and was released in March 1971. It seems that the Coke jingle had already been flighted a month earlier on US radio, but to negative response. There seem to have been legal wrangling as a result of a version of the jingle Coca Cola had commissioned being in circulation. Shirley’s song certainly received little promotion.

Meanwhile, the McCann-Erickson agency devised a new way of promoting the jingle, deciding it needed visuals. The resulting TV commercial, filmed by the great Haskell Wexler, became an instant classic. The song, I’d Like To Buy The World A Coke, became so popular that radio DJs persuaded Davis to record it with adapted lyrics. Recorded by session singers without the branding, it was released under the name Hillside Singers, and started to climb the US charts when the New Seekers eventually consented to record it, minus the “it’s the real thing” tag. It became a massive hit, topping the UK charts in January 1972 and reaching #7 in the US.

 

Forever And Ever

The songwriting team of Bill Martin and Phil Coulter had provided several hits for the Bay City Rollers. In 1975 they thought they had another winner for the band, a track called For Ever And Ever. But the band, then at the height of Rollermania, thought the song was too light and wanted something rockier. While BCR recorded Money Honey, which reached #3 in the UK charts in November 1975, Martin and Coulter dumped the band and gave the song to anther studio-confected teen band, Kenny.

That outfit had already enjoyed a few big hits, written by Martin and Coulter, such as The Bump and Julie Ann. For Ever And Ever appeared unnoticed on their less than successful The Sound Of Super K LP. The songwriters knew a hit when they had one, and decided that with a better arrangement, the song would storm the charts. Enter Scottish teen band Slik, led by Midge Ure and produced your two songwriting friends. In that version, Forever And Ever reached #1 in January 1976, knocking ABBA’s Mamma Mia off the top spot.

By then Ure might not have been the lead singer of Slik. In 1975 Malcolm McLaren asked Ure to become the frontman of the Sex Pistols. Ure declined. Punk meant nothing to him.

 

1. John Fogerty – Rockin’ All Over The World (1975)
The Usurper: Status Quo (1977)
2. Mick Jackson – Blame It On The Boogie (1978)
The Usurper: The Jacksons (1978)
3. John Henry Kurtz – Drift Away (1972)
The Usurper: Dobie Gray (1972)
4. Badfinger – Without You (1970)
The Usurpers: Nilsson (1972), Mariah Carey (1993)
5. Chris Farlowe – Handbags And Gladrags (1967)
The Usurper: Rod Stewart (1969)
6. Billy Preston – You Are So Beautiful (1974)
The Usurper: Joe Cocker (1975)
7. Kelly Gordon – He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother (1969)
The Usurper: The Hollies (1969)
8. Sutherland Brothers – Sailing (1972)
The Usurper: Rod Stewart (1975)
9. Anni-Frid Lyngstad – Fernando (1975)
The Usurper: ABBA (1976)
10. Kenny – For Ever And Ever (1975)
The Usurper: Slik (1976)
11. The Nerves – Hanging On The Telephone (1976)
The Usurper: Blondie (1978)
12. Bruce Woolley & the Camera Club – Video Killed the Radio Star (1979)
The Usurper: The Buggles (1979)
13. Kristine Sparkle – Devil Woman (1974)
The Usurper: Cliff Richard (1976)
14. Gene Cotton – Let Your Flow (1975)
The Usurper: The Bellamy Brothers (1976)
15. Albert Hammond – When I Need You (1977)
The Usurper: Leo Sayer (1976)
16. Scott English – Brandy (1971)
The Usurper: Barry Manilow (1974, as Mandy)
17. Ian & Sylvia – Early Morning Rain (1965)
The Usurper: Gordon Lightfoot (1966)
18. The Attack – Hi Ho Silver Lining (1967)
The Usurper: Jeff Beck (1967/72)
19. Wilbert Harrison – Let’s Work Together (1969)
The Usurpers: Canned Heat (1970), Bryan Ferry (1976)
20. Smiley Lewis – I Hear You Knocking (1955)
The Usurper: Dave Edmunds (1970)
21. The Rays – Daddy Cool (1957)
The Usurper: Darts (1977)
22. Susan Shirley – True Love And Apple Pie (1971)
The Usurper: New Seekers (1971, as I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing)
23. Anthony Newley – The Candy Man (1971)
The Usurper: Sammy Davis Jr (1972)

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The Originals: The Classics

September 20th, 2018 9 comments

Here’s a collection of lesser-known originals of stone-cold pop classics, and quite a bit of background information to most of them. In fact, I suggest you make yourself a good cup of coffee, settle back and be engrossed in the stories of some of the most famous songs in pop history.

 

Hey Joe

We kick off with a track whose genesis is disputed, with some claiming Hey Joe is an old traditional folk song. There seems to be wide consensus, however, that it was written in the early 1960s by a folk singer called Billy Roberts, who may well have borrowed from a 1950s country song by the same title written by Boudleaux Bryant. Something of a cult classic on LA’s live scene and reportedly propagated by David Crosby, Roberts’ song was eventually recorded by The Leaves (though some claim that the Surfaris recorded their version first, but released it after the Leaves” version came out).

Where The Leaves rock out in a psychedelic fashion, Jimi Hendrix”s version’s, recorded in December 1966, is said to have been based on the slower folk-rock treatment by Tim Rose (who once was part of a folk trio including someone called Jim Hendricks, with Mama Cass Elliott), though Arthur Lee insisted it was the Love recording of September 1966 that inspired Hendrix. Whatever the case: the version here is the first to be released on record.

 

Wild Horses

A number of tracks here were originally released before the actual writers had hits with them. One of those is the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses, which was first released by The Flying Burrito Brothers. The Stones recorded it before the Flying Burrito Brothers did, but released it only after Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons’ band released it on their 1970 album, Burrito Deluxe. Wild Horses was written in 1969 (Keef says about his new-born son; Jagger denies that its re-written lyrics were about Marianne Faithfull) and recorded in December 1969 at the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, the day after the group laid down Brown Sugar. Jamming in a country mood, Mick asked Keith to present a number in that genre, spurring his country-loving friend on by saying: “Come on, you must have hundreds”. Keith disappeared for a bit, and returned with a melody and words for the chorus. Mick filled in the lyrics for the verses, and the song was recorded (with Jim Dickinson standing it for Ian Stewart, who did not like playing minor chords) before the Stones packed up and left Memphis.

Earlier that year, the Stones had collaborated on the Flying Burrito Brothers’ The Gilded Palace Of Sin album; and as the curtain fell on the 1960s, the Burritos opened for the Stones at the notorious Altamont concert (according to some reports, it was during their performance that the Hells’ Angels started the first fight). Parsons was especially friendly with Keith Richard, whom he introduced to the treasury of country music. It is even said that the song was intended for Gram — probably a false rumour, yet it sounds more like a Parsons than a Stones song. Whether or not it was intended for Parsons, the Burritos were allowed to record Wild Horses, and release it before the Stones were able to (a delay forced by contractual reasons involving their “divorce” from Allen Klein) on 1971″s Sticky Fingers album.

 

My Sweet Lord

Billy Preston recorded and released My Sweet Lord before George Harrison did. Preston had at one point come to be regarded as the “Fifth Beatle”, thanks to his keyboard work which earned him a co-credit on the Get Back single. He had actually known the band since 1962, when he toured Britain with Little Richard, for whom the Beatles opened in Liverpool. Post-Beatles, Preston continued working with Harrison, who had brought him into the Let It Be sessions. Written in December 1969 in Copenhagen, My Sweet Lord song first appeared on Preston’s Encouraging Words album, a star-studded affair which included not only Harrison, but also Eric Clapton on guitar, Keith Richard on bass and Ginger Baker on drums.

The album also included Harrison’s All Things Must Pass (a song which the Beatles had considered of recording); almost a year later that song would provide the title of the triple-LP set. The All Things Must Pass album, produced by Phil Spector, also included George’s cover of his own My Sweet Lord. Preston’s version is much closer to Harrison’s original concept than the composer’s own take. In his defence during the My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine plagiarism case, Harrison said that he had been inspired not by early-’60s girlband pop, but by the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 1969 hit Oh Happy Day. That influence is acutely apparent on Preston’s recording, but less so on Harrison’s chart-topper. Indeed, had Preston scored the big hit with it, not Harrison, it might have been Ed Hawkins initiating the plagiarism litigation.

 

California Dreamin’

John and Michelle Phillips wrote California Dreamin’ in 1963, suitably while living in New York, before forming The Mamas and The Papas and while John was still with a group called The New Journeymen. Fellow folkie Barry McGuire helped John and Michelle land a recording contract. In gratitude, they gave McGuire a song for his next album: California Dreamin’, which was recorded (with the now formed Mamas & Papas on backing vocals) in 1965, but was released only in 1966. It was supposed to be McGuire’s follow-up to Eve Of Destruction, but The Mamas and The Papas recorded the song themselves and released it as a single in 1965, initially to widespread indifference. Only when it started getting airplay on a Boston radio station did the song become a hit in early 1966. McGuire insists that the Mamas & Papas didn’t so much re-record the song as replace his voice with Denny Doherty’s and the harmonica solo with the flute. Listen to the two versions and judge for yourself.

 

Suzanne

Several of Leonard Cohen”s most famous songs were first recorded by folk warbless Judy Collins: Sisters Of Mercy; Bird On A Wire; Since You”ve Asked; Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye — and Suzanne. The song was born in Montreal, landmarks of which are described at length in the song. Cohen already had a chord pattern in place which he then married to a poem he had written about Suzanne Verdal — the beautiful wife of the sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, a friend of Cohen’s — whom he fancied but, as the lyrics have it, touched only in his mind. One night in 1966, a year before Cohen released his debut album, he played the finished song over the telephone to his friend Judy Collins, who was already a star on the folk scene. Duly enchanted, Collins recorded the song for her In My Life album, which was released in November 1966.

 

Where You Lead

Kate Taylor was (and still is) the younger sister of singer-songwriter James Taylor. She was well-connected: on her debut album, Sister Kate, she had the backing of such luminaries as Linda Ronstadt, Merry Clayton, The Memphis Horns, various Wrecking Crew legends, her brother James — and Carole King. The great songwriter lent Taylor two songs which would appear on her great Tapestry album: Where You Lead and Home Again. Taylor’s LP came out in January 1971; Tapestry a month later. Taylor’s version of Home Again in included as a bonus.

 

Me And Bobby McGee

Kris Kristofferson wrote Me And Bobby McGee, but as it was with several of his classic songs, others it to record it first. Janis Joplin was the one to have the great hit with it, and Kenny Rogers & The First Edition recorded it before her. But the first version was recorded by Roger Miller in 1969. His was a mid-tempo country-pop number, rather bereft of emotional engagement, an entirely misjudged drumtrack and, in the carnivalesque “la la la” part some ill-advised ’60s horns and some background whooping. It didn’t set the world of music alight, making it to #12 in the country charts, and failing to dent the pop charts. KK got around to recording it, and a couple of country types mucked about with it over the following few months, before Janis Joplin — a former lover and friend of Kristofferson’s — decided it was really a blues-rock number. Recorded just a few days before her death, Joplin is initially restrained before launching into a climax of screams and groans, as was her wont.

 

Rhinestone Cowboy

Larry Weiss was a prolific songwriter. In the 1960s, he co-wrote hits such as Bend Me Shape Me, Hi Ho Silver Lining and Spooky Tooth’s Evil Woman. Sporadically he also recorded his own songs. One of these was Rhinestone Cowboy, inspired by a phrase he had overheard in a conversation. The song appeared on Weiss’ Black And Blue Suite album, and it was released as a single (at least in West Germany).

The story goes that Glen Campbell heard the song on the car radio as he was on his way to a meeting with his record company, and thought about suggesting to record it. But before he had the opportunity to do so, the record company presented their own bright idea: how about this Rhinestone Cowboy song by Larry Weiss. In the original version, Weiss sounds much like his old Brill Building chum Neil Diamond. Campbell made the song his own, with that soaring voice which expresses such a forfeit of hope. Released in May 1975, it went on to top the pop and country charts simultaneously, the first time that had been done since 1961.

In 1984, Weiss finally got a project he had been working on realised — a movie starring Dolly Parton and Sylvester Stallone. Its title: Rhinestone.

 

Mr Bojangles

There is no truth to the old chestnut that Mr Bojangles tells the story of the great Bill Robinson. Folk/country singer Jerry Jeff Walker, who wrote and first recorded the song, tells the story of being in a New Orleans holding cell for public disorderliness with, among others, a street dancer (a white one, because cells were segregated). These public performers were generically nicknamed Bojangles (after Robinson). This man told his tales of life and of his grief for his dead dog. Urged on by the other cellmates, he proceeded to give them a tap dance. In 1968, three years after the incident, Walker recorded the song about that experience. Mr Bojangles is by far his most famous contribution to popular music. The second-most important would be to inspire Townes van Zandt to start writing songs.

The song was covered by several well-known performers but became a hit only in 1971, when the Nitty Gritty Band took it the US #9, drawing from Walker’s folk arrangement. The best, and probably best-known, version was recorded a year later, by Sammy Davis Jr, drawing from a cover by Bobby Cole. Sammy was a hoofer himself, of course, so in his younger days would have known many characters such as Mr Bojangles, even in his family of entertainers. Sammy could identify with the song, and he delivered a beautiful performance, with the right mix of carefree spirit (the whistling) and drama which his protagonist projects.

 

Black Magic Woman

Released in 1968, Fleetwood Mac‘s Black Magic Woman is “three minutes of sustain/reverb guitar with two exquisite solos from Peter [Green],” according to Mick Fleetwood. Carlos Santana covered it on 1970’s Abraxas album and retained its basic structure, but changed the arrangement significantly with a shot of Latin and hint of fusion. It became one of Santana’s signature tunes, while Fleetwood Mac had to remind audiences that the song was actually theirs. The Black Magic Woman was Green”s girlfriend Sandra Elsdon who refused to sleep with him — hence the line “don’t turn your back on me baby, you might just pick up my magic stick”.

 

A Groovy Kind Of Love

A Groovy Kind Of Love was written in 20 minutes in 1965 by Carole Bayer Sager, barely 21, and 17-year-old Toni Wine. The song, one of the first to riff on the new buzzword “groovy”, was apparently based on the Rondo from Sonatina in G Major by Muzio Clementi. It was first recorded by the short-lived duo Diane & Annita — Diane Hall and Annita Ray. Annita had appeared alongside the likes of Fats Domino and Big Joe Turner in the rock & roll movie Shake Rattle And Roll, in which she performed the song On A Saturday Night. The song was left off the soundtrack album. She met Diane Hall as a member of Ray Anthony’s Bookends. There is very little information about them as a duo, and rumours even had it that the Diane & Annita act was in fact Sager recording under a false name. In any case, the single didn’t go anywhere, nor did its second incarnation, a version by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebells, produced by the great Bertie Berns.

The English group The Mindbenders had enjoyed a US chart-topper with Game Of Love, but by mid-1965 they suddenly were without their frontman, Wayne Fontana, after he walked out in a middle of as concert. As luck would have it, the now Fontana-less band came to record A Groovy Kind Of Love, with future 10cc member Eric Stewart on lead vocals, and had a huge hit with it, reaching #2 both in the UK and US. It was the only real success the group would have before disbanding in 1968, by which time another future 10cc member, Graham Gouldman, had joined.

 

Ring Of Fire

At the time when June Carter was falling heavily for Johnny Cash, she was regularly writing songs with fellow country singer Merle Kilgore. As Kilgore recalled it, Ring Of Fire was born the day June spoke to him about her love for Cash. Later, seeking an idea for a song, June remembered a letter she had received from a friend going through a divorce which described love as “a burning ring of fire”. And thus a classic song title (which even appealed to the manufacturers of haemorrhoid ointment; Roseanne Cash blocked its use in an ad for such a product) was born. The song essentially describes June’s feelings for Cash. But it was her sister Anita Carter who recorded it first, in November 1962. In fact, the song was only half-finished when Anita was ready to record it. June and Kilgore banged the rest together in ten minutes, fortuitously retaining the word “mire” from a provisional lyric.

Cash liked the song when he heard Anita”s record (as he well should) and decided he would record it. Deferring to his future sister-in-law, he waited four months before recording his version. In the interim he had a dream about the song featuring Tijuana trumpets — possibly inspired by June’s comment about her having borrowed the song’s swirling sound from the music at a merry-go-round in Villa Acuna, Mexico. Shortened to Ring Of Fire, Cash’s version was a hit, his first since 1958, thus saving his about-to-be-cancelled recording contract with Columbia. Four years later, Kilgore was the best man at Johnny and June’s wedding.

 

The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan

Shel Silverstein was something of a Renaissance Man: a poet, childrens’ author, cartoonist, screenwriter and composer. In the latter incarnation, Silverstein wrote several hit songs, including A Boy Named Sue and The Ballad of Lucy Jordan. In 1971, Silverstein selected the yet unknown Dr Hook & the Medicine Show to appear on the soundtrack he wrote for the Dustin Hoffman film Who Is Harry Kellerman And Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me?. He proceeded to write the lyrics for many Dr Hook songs, including the notorious Sylvia’s Mother, Cover Of The Rolling Stone and Lucy Jordan. Dr Hook”s 1974 version of the latter made negligible impact, but Marianne Faithfull’s cover five years later became a big hit.

 

The Air That I Breathe

Albert Hammond composed The Air That I Breathe with frequent collaborator Mike Hazlewood and released it on his debut album in 1972. It starts of uncertainly, but mid-way through hits a strange stride. Perfect it is not, but certainly interesting. According to Hammond, it was written for a physically unattractive girl while Hazlewood came up with the title upon glimpsing LA’s smog. The song was then recorded by Phil Everly in 1973, but became a hit in the hands of the briefly resurgent Hollies a year later. Subsequently Hammond and Hazlewood received an unexpected songwriting credit on Radiohead’s Creep after the awful Thom Yorke stole from The Air That I Breathe for Creep.

 

Wild Thing

One of rock’s most iconic songs was written by actor Jon Voight’s younger brother, James Wesley, who took the name Chip Taylor. The first version of Wild Thing, by the New York band The Wild Ones, was released in 1965. Headed by one Jordan Christopher, they are said to have been the houseband of what has been called New York’s first disco, The Office. Taylor wrote Wild Thing for them as a favour to A&R man Gerry Granagan. It’s not very good at all, certainly not in comparison to The Troggs version, which replaced the Wild Ones’ whistle interlude with an ocarina solo (the ocarina is an ancient ceramic wind instrument).

Taylor has recalled that he wrote the song in a few minutes (“the pauses and the hesitations are a result of not knowing what I was going to do next”) and had a low opinion of it. Likewise, The Troggs recorded it in 20 minutes, during the same session that produced their follow-up hit With A Girl Like You. They worked from Taylor’s demo, rather than the Wild Ones’ version. Chip Taylor also wrote Angel Of The Morning, which featured in The Originals: The 1980s.

 

Black Betty

One of the hardest rocking hits of 1977 was Ram Jam”s blistering Black Betty, but it is an old African-American folk song favoured by labour gangs. The recording here is the oldest in existence, preceding the better-known one by Lead Belly (who often is credited with writing it) by six years. This is a 1933 field recording made by the musicologists John and Alan Lomax in 1933 of the convict James “Iron Head” Baker, then already 63, and backing band of prisoners at Central State Farm in Texas. The Ram Jam version wasn’t even the first rockified adaptation. In 1976, a year before the Ram Jam hit, it was recorded by an outfit called Starstruck, which included future Ram Jam member Bill Bartlett.

Civil right groups boycotted the song because it was thought it insulted black women. Anthropologists are undecided what exactly a “Black Betty”, perhaps a rifle, or a bottle of whiskey, or a whip (as Lead Belly claimed), or a penitentiary transfer wagon, or indeed a prostitute. In the Ram Jam lyrics Betty clearly is a woman, probably of African-American heritage, from Birmingham, Alabama.

 

Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Nina Simone first recorded Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood in 1964 as a slow, soulful blues ballad, her voice so deep in places you’d think it was a man singing it. A year later The Animals took hold of it, and — as they had done with the traditional song House Of The Rising Sun — turned the number inside out, speeding it up, reintroducing the signature opening chords (which almost unnoticably appeared at the end of Simone’s version) and Alan Price’s glorious organ riff, and giving the soul-rock a bit of a flamenco sound. Twelve years later, in 1977, Leroy Gomez & Santa Esmeralda covered the Animals version, adding a touch of disco to the mix, to produce a dramatic and eminently danceable hit.

Denis

In 1978 Blondie enjoyed their breakthrough with a slice of power-pop new wave: Denis. It was a cover of a 1963 hit for for Randy & the Rainbows. Denise reached #10 on the Billboard charts, but after the follow-up barely scraped into the Top 100, that was it for the doo-woppers from Queens. The French verse in Blondie’s version was necessary to explain away the object of desire’s gender-change.

I Fought The Law

Thought by many to be an original Clash song, the more knowledgeable will refer to I Fought The Law as a Bobby Fuller Four song. But even that was a cover of the 1960 song by the Crickets, Buddy Holly’s erstwhile band. Written by Sonny Curtis, one can almost hear Holly sing it. In the event, the song made no great impact until Fuller’s 1964 recording. Fuller was found dead just as the single was becoming a hit (some say suicide, some allege foul play — few suicides involve beating one”s self up before imbibing petrol). The session drummer on the Fuller version, rumour has it, was a young Barry White. A generation later, it became something of a pub-punk classic as spat out by Strummer on the Clash version.

 

Barbara Ann

The Beach Boys never wanted Barbara Ann to be a single release; the LP it came from, Beach Boys Party!, was an informal jam session recorded to fulfil a contractual obligation. The group, and whoever else was around, were playing whatever came to mind while they were getting drunk. At one point, Dean Torrence of surf-pop duo Jan & Dean, who had previously recorded Barbara Ann in 1962 and was recording in an adjacent studio, popped in. Torrence suggested the song and sang lead on the recording with Brian Wilson. Torrence left half an hour later, and was not credited on the album. Obviously, the light-hearted Barbara Ann, with its fluffed lines and subsequent laughter and with session drummer Hal Blaine on ashtrays — listen closely at 1:05 — did not quite meet the sophisticated production values which had already been evident on recent recordings, such as California Girls. And still, Barbara Ann reached the US #2.

Barbara-Ann (it was originally hyphenated) had been a 1961 US #13 hit for The Regents, an American-Italian doo wop group from the Bronx. They went on to have only one more Top 30 hit, Runaround. Barbara-Ann had initially been recorded as a demo by The Regents in 1959. When they couldn’t land a record contract, the group folded. A couple of years later, a group called The Consorts, which included a Regents’ member’s younger brother, dug out the demo and played it at auditions. One record company, Cousins, liked Barbara-Ann and released it — but not by the Consorts, but the Regents’ version. The Regents hurriedly reunited, and the song quickly became a local and then a national hit.

 

El Condor Pasa

El Condor Pasa was a mammoth hit for Simon & Garfunkel in 1970, but by then the song was already 57 years old. Written in 1913 by the Peruvian composer Daniel Alomí­a Robles for a musical of the same name. Paul Simon hadn’t heard that, but a hit version by the Peruvian band Los Incas with whom had become friendly. Los Incas leader Jorge Milchberg told Simon that the melody was a traditional Andean folk song which he had arranged (and collected royalties for). It took an amicably resolved court case brought by Robles’ heirs to have the tune’s real composer credited.

 

The Lion Sleeps Tonight/Wimoweh

Finally, one of the most foul stories of songwriting theft: that of Mbube (the song known more widely as The Lion Sleeps Tonight or Wimoweh), with even the venerable Pete Seeger involved in the deceit; though he comes out of it a lot better than others.

The man who wrote and first recorded it, a South African musician named Solomon Linda, died virtually penniless, having been duped into selling the rights to the song for a pittance to the Italian-born South African record label owner Eric Gallo. Gallo pocketed the royalties of the prodigious South African sales, in return allowing Linda to work in his packing plant. Apart from performing on stage in South Africa, where he was a musical legend in the townships, Linda worked there until his death at 53 in 1962 — nine years after Seeger and the Weavers had a US #6 hit with it, and a year after The Tokens scored a huge hit with the song in a reworked version. No laws were broken in this deplorable story of plagiarism, but the rules of ethics and common decency certainly were.

Mbube was introduced to American music by Pete Seeger, who adapted a fairly faithful version of the song. Still, Seeger didn’t even transcribe the word “uyiMbube” properly, even though he had received a record of the song which had a label stating the title on it. Thus “uyiMbube” became “Wimoweh”.

Seeger later pleaded ignorance about the intricacies of music publishing, and, to his credit, deeply regretted not insisting firmly enough that Linda be given the songwriting credit. He had sent his initial arrangers’s fee of $1,000 to Linda and insisted that the song’s publishers, TRO, should keep sending royalties to the South African. Apparently they periodically did so, though Linda’s widow had little idea where the money — hardly riches (about $275 per quarter in the early ’90s) — came from. Some family members say the payments started only in the 1980s. Whatever the case, neither Linda nor Seeger were credited for the song now known as Wimoweh. The credit went to Paul Campbell, a pseudonym used by TRO owner Harry Richmond to copyright the many public-domain folk songs which TRO published.

The Tokens’ version took even greater liberties. But this time nobody could claim ignorance because Miriam Makeba, who grew up with the song, had released it in the US in 1960, a year before The Tokens’ version was created, as Mbube, or The Lion (mbube means lion). It is fair to say that George David Weiss, who rearranged the song for The Tokens, at their request, should not be denied his songwriter credit. Weiss dismantled and restructured the song, turning a very African song into an American novelty pop song. RCA and mafia associates producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore claimed co-writing credit and the rights to the song, deciding that Mbube was an old African folk song and therefore in the public domain. They might well have thought so in good faith, but a minimum of research would have established the facts, even before the age of Google. Or perhaps not: they pulled the same stunt with Miriam Makeba’s Click Song (the clicking is a distinctive sound in the Xhosa language), which the Tokens released as Bwanina. They got away with that, because Makeba’s number was based on an old folk song. Not so with The Lion Sleeps Tonight, to which Gallo, the record label owner from South Africa, had asserted his US rights in 1952 and then sold it to TRO. A whole lot of wheeling and dealing took place, with the upshot that the credit now included TRO’s fictitious Paul Campbell. Again, Linda was left out in the cold.

It was only at the beginning of the 2000s that Linda’s family took legal action, and that only after Richmond, Weiss and the mafia pals started to wrangle about the ownership to the song. Solomon Linda’s family eventually won a settlement which entitles them to future royalties and a lump sum for royalties going back to 1987, largely due to an extensive Rolling Stone exposé by South African one-book wonder novelist Rian Malan.

Here’s the kicker: Solomon Linda was quite delighted at the international success of his song; he didn’t realise that he should have received something for it — even if that something was just an acknowledgment that he wrote the song. Read the full story of Mbube.

 

As always, CD-R length, home-covered covers, PW in comments. And, yes, in some of these cases it is a bit harsh to refer to the artists who covered their own sings as usurpers, but, as any old hack will tell you, style is style.

1. The Leaves – Hey Joe, Where Are You Going (1966)
The Usurper: Jimi Hendrix (1966)
2. Fleetwood Mac – Black Magic Woman (1968)
The Usurper: Santana (1970)
3. Barry McGuire – California Dreaming (1965)
The Usurper: The Mamas and The Papas (1966)
4. Flying Burrito Brothers – Wild Horses (1970)
The Usurper: The Rolling Stones (1971)
5. Jerry Jeff Walker – Mr. Bojangles (1968)
The Usurper: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1970)
6. Larry Weiss – Rhinestone Cowboy (1974)
The Usurper: Glen Campbell (1975)
7. Roger Miller – Me And Bobby McGee (1969)
The Usurper: Janis Joplin (1970)
8. Anita Carter – (Love’s) Ring Of Fire (1963)
The Usurper: Johnny Cash (1963)
9. Kate Taylor – Where You Lead (1971)
The Usurper: Carole King (1971)
10. Judy Collins – Suzanne (1966)
The Usurper: Leonard Cohen (1967)
11. Diane & Annita – A Groovy Kind Of Love (1965)
The Usurpers: The Mindbenders (1965), Phil Collins (1988)
12. Billy Preston – My Sweet Lord (1970)
The Usurper: George Harrison (1970)
13. Albert Hammond – The Air That I Breathe (1972)
The Usurper: The Hollies (1974)
14. Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show – Ballad Of Lucy Jordan (1973)
The Usurper: Marianne Faithfull (1979)
15. Nina Simone – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (1964)
The Usurpers: The Animals (1964), Santa Esmeralda (1977)
16. Kai Winding with Vocal Group – Time Is On My Side (1963)
The Usurper: The Rolling Stones (1964)
17. Dee Dee Warwick – You’re No Good (1963)
The Usurpers: Swinging Blue Jeans (1964), Linda Ronstadt (1974)
18. The Regents – Barbara-Ann (1961)
The Usurper: The Beach Boys (1965)
19. Randy and the Rainbows – Denise (1963)
The Usurper: Blondie (1978)
20. Crickets – I Fought The Law (1959)
The Usurper: Bobby Fuller Four (1966), The Clash (1979)
21. The Wild Ones – Wild Thing (1965)
The Usurper: The Troggs (1966)
22. Ann Cole with The Suburbans and Orchestra – Got My Mojo Working (1957)
The Usurper: Muddy Waters (1957)
23. Roy Hawkins – The Thrill Is Gone (1951)
The Usurper: B.B. King (1970)
24. James Iron Head Baker & Group – Black Betty (1933)
The Usurpers: Lead Belly (1939), Ram Jam (1977)
25. Solomon Linda’s Original Evening Birds – Mbube (1939)
The Usurpers: The Weavers (as Wimoweh, 1957), The Tokens (as The Lion Sleeps Tonight, 1961)
26. Edric Connor and The Caribbeans – Day Dah Light (1952)
The Usurper: Harry Belafonte (as The Banana Boat Song, 1956)
27. Orquesta del Zoológico – El Cóndor Pasa (1917)
The Usurper: Simon & Garfunkel (1970)

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More Originals:
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1980s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: : Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals:  Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: : Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

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Any Major Originals: The 1980s

August 9th, 2018 7 comments

Some years ago I ran a long series on the lesser-known originals of big hits. Here we continue a series of mixes that bring many of those originals together, by themes. Previously we’ve had the originals of Burt Bacharach songs, Christmas classics, Elvis Presley (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2). Here are the originals of hits from the 1980s.

One act could have featured twice here: early ’70s soul group The Persuaders feature here with their quite nice original of Some Guys Have All The Luck, with the famous cover a cautionary tale of what can happen to a perfectly good song when you add ’80s synths, cocaine and Rod Stewart to it. Not featured is A Thin Line Between over And Hate, later a hit for the Pretenders. But another original of a Pretenders hit features here, the Kinks’ 1964 song Stop Your Sobbing. At this point I notice that the first three tracks on this mix were originally sung by men and covered to commercial success by women.

Perhaps the most famous of these originals is Gloria Jones’ 1965 b-side Tainted Love; a soul track (often falsely said to be a Tamla Motown record) that became a synth classic. It came to the UK by way of England”s Northern Soul scene which thrives on obscure ’60s soul tracks. Before Tainted Love became a hit, Gloria Jones attained some pop history fame: she was Marc Bolan’s girlfriend and passenger when he was killed in a car crash in 1977.

A couple of tracks here may, to some, be better known in the original. The Labi Siffre original of It Must Be Love is hardly obscure. Still, it is the 1981 Madness cover that was the bigger hit and gets the wider airplay. Madness reached the UK #4 with the song; in 1971, Siffre (one of the first openly gay singers in pop) reached #14 with it. Rather endearingly, Siffre made a cameo appearance in the video for the Madness single (he is a violin player).

Likewise, when teenage singer Tiffany scored her 1987 debut hit I Think We’re Alone Now by performing it at malls, the kids’ parents (seen in the video looking on bemusedly at Tiffany’s exploits) probably recognised the song as Tommy James & the Shondells’ 1967 US #4 hit. And while Tiffany topped the UK charts with her version, the original didn’t chart there. Curiously, Tiffany”s cover was followed at US #1 by another Tommy James cover, Mony Mony by Billy Idol.

Certainly in Europe, the Laura Branigan hit Gloria was better known in Umberto Tozzi’s Italian original from 1978. Branigan had another big hit with an Italian hit: 1984’s Self Control was a Euro hit the same year for RAF.

Some originals were written or co-written by the artist who’d have the hit with them. C’est La Vie, first recorded by soul singer Beau Williams, was co-written by Robbie Nevil who”d have a hit with it in 1986 (followers of the Any Major Soul series may remember Williams as the singer of the slightly overwrought ballad Elvina).

China Girl, a hit for David Bowie in 1983, was originally recorded by Iggy Pop, who co-wrote it with Bowie, in 1977 at a time when both stars dwelled in Berlin to wean themselves off heroin. Indeed, there is a good case to be made that the song is about heroin, a drug sometimes referred to as China White, or about an opiate known as China Girl. In 1983 Bowie revived the song, which in Iggy”s version made few waves, in his besuited Let’s Dance period, polishing it under Nile Rodger’s production, and frolicking to it in the Australian waves in the video.

The Arrows were a short-lived English band on the RAK label, which also gave us the likes of Smokie, Hot Chocolate and Racey (who also feature here), and so were produced by the genius of ’70s pop, Mickey Most. After two hits — though not this song — the Arrows disappeared. Joan Jett also seemed to disappear after the break-up of The Runaways in the late ’70s, suddenly reappearing in 1982 with the largely obscure I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll, which she had previously recorded with members of the Sex Pistols. Apparently Jett had known the song since 1976 when, while on tour with the Runaways, she saw the Arrows performing it on TV.

Racey, mentioned above, were the original perpetrators of Toni Basil’s Mickey, though they sang about Kitty. The song was written by RAK’s Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. It was not a hit, and neither Toni Basil nor her record company evidently thought much of it when she recorded it soon after, also in 1979. For two years it languished in the reject tray before some bright spark decided to inflict the number on us, against Basil’s misgivings. They should have listened to the singer.

Some performers of lesser-known originals just had rotten luck. Take Evie Sands, the first singer to record the one-night stand anthem Angel Of The Morning, in 1967. It was on its way to becoming a hit, with good radio airplay and 10,000 copies selling fast. Then the label, Cameo-Parkway, went bankrupt, and Sands’ record sank. A few months later, Memphis producer Chips Moman picked up Angel Of The Morning (which in the interim had also been recorded by English singer Billie Davies) and had the unknown Merrilee Rush record it, backed by the same session crew that played with Elvis during his famous Memphis sessions that produced hits such as Suspicious Minds (itself a cover, as detailed in Elvis Originals Vol. 2). The Seattle-born singer had a massive hit with it, even receiving a Grammy nomination. It soon was covered prodigiously, with P.P. Arnold scoring a UK hit with it in 1968, and Juice Newton has a mega-hit with her 1981 cover (hence the song’s inclusion here). Happily, Sands went on to enjoy some success later.

Around the same time Juice Newton had a hit with Angel Of The Morning, Kim Carnes topped charts with Bette Davis Eyes, for which the song’s subject went out of her way to thank first Carnes and then the songwriters for introducing her to a whole new generation of kids and giving her cool status among her grandchildren. But the first version of it was recorded by Jackie DeShannon, who was not just a fine singer but also a songwriter. She co-wrote Bette Davis Eyes with Donna Weiss, and recorded it in 1975 in a country-boogie woogie style. Her version attracted little attention, but six years later Carnes’ cover became one of the biggest hits in US chart history. As for the titular eyes which warranted a song, apparently they were the product of a thyroid condition Davis suffered.

Produced by Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra, Got My Mind Set On was a cover version that in 1987 gave George Harrison his first big hit since the nostalgic All Those Years Ago six years earlier. With Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, Harrison and Lynne went on to form the Traveling Wilburys. It is no accident that Harrison’s US#1 and UK#2 hit sounds a lot like a Wilburys song.

Got My Mind Set On you was originally recorded at roughly the same time as the Beatles began their ascent. Indeed, Harrison discovered the song at that time when he bought James Ray’s LP during a holiday to visit his sister in the US in September 1963. R&B singer Ray James was remembered mostly for only one song, and it wasn’t the song Harrison resurrected 25 years later, but If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, which reached #22 in the Billboard charts. Alas, he struggled to have more hits. James Ray died in 1964, reportedly of a drug overdose. Featured here is the longer album version of I’ve Got My Mind Set On You, on which Ray was backed by the Hutch Davie Orchestra, which Harrison would have heard on the LP he bought (and which is a lot better than his cover). The single version apparently was brutally truncated.

Money’s Too Tight To Mention was Simply Red’s breakthrough hit in the summer of 1985, creating what seemed to be a fresh take on an old soul number. It was, in fact, a cover of a song barely three years old (the Reaganomics reference, of course, hints at that). But even in its original form by the Valentine Brothers, the track sounds like a ’60s throwback, musically and lyrically. The narrative borrows from down-on-luck numbers such as Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come (absent the trace of optimism), and musically you can imagine Otis Redding singing it. Simply Red’s take is not wildly different from the funkier Valentine Brothers’ version. And the iconic exclamation, “Cut-back!” is there in the original. The Valentine Brothers, a duo from Ohio (one of whom, Billy, had been a member of jazz trio Young-Holt Unlimited), never enjoyed much success, their career fizzling out after a couple of albums.

It has never been much of a secret that Chaka Khan’s big 1984 hit I Feel For You was written by Prince, but the composer’s version is not very well known. And, frankly, it isn’t quite as good as Chaka”s (which coincidentally was a hit at the height of Prince’s fame and success on the back of Purple Rain). Prince, on his eponymous sophomore album, sings it with his falsetto, backed by a synth which in 1979 must have seemed cutting edge but now sounds terribly dated. It’s not bad, but the Arif Mardin arrangement for Chaka Khan, with Melle Mel’s rap — which surely did a lot to popularise rap in the mainstream, and which Chaka did not like — is richer, funkier, more fun.

South African-born Mutt Lange has had an excessively long string as a producer and songwriter who gave us the great (AC/DC’s Back In Black), the bad (Bryan Adam’s Everything I Do) and the ugly (something by Michael Bolton). Before he hit the big time, he was the songwriter and singer of a UK-based band named Supercharge. One of the songs Mutt sang in 1979 was reworked three years later to become Huey Lewis’ Do You Believe In Love.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-covered covers.

1. Arrows – I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)
The Usurper: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (1982)
2. Kinks – Stop Your Sobbing (1964)
The Usurper: Pretenders (1979)
3. Tommy James & The Shondells – I Think We’re Alone Now (1967)
The Usurper: Tiffany (1987)
4. James Ray – Got My Mind Set On You (Parts 1 & 2) (1963)
The Usurper: George Harrison (1987)
5. Gloria Jones – Tainted Love (1965)
The Usurper: Soft Cell (1981)
6. The Persuaders – Some Guys Have All The Luck (1974)
The Usurpers: Robert Palmer (1982), Rod Stewart (1984)
7. Labi Siffre – It Must Be Love (1971)
The Usurper: Madness (1981)
8. Evie Sands – Angel Of The Morning (1967)
The Usurpers: Merrilee Rush (1968), Juice Newton (1981)
9. Jackie DeShannon – Bette Davis Eyes (1975)
The Usurper: Kim Carnes (1981)
10. i-Ten – Alone (1983)
The Usurper: Heart (1987)
11. Supercharge – We Both Believe In Love (1979)
The Usurper: Huey Lewis & the News (1982, as Do You Believe In Love)
12. Umberto Tozzi – Gloria (1979)
The Usurper: Laura Branigan (1982)
13. Iggy Pop – China Girl (1977)
The Usurper: David Bowie (1983)
14. The Reaction – Talk Talk Talk Talk (1977)
The Usurper: Talk Talk (1982, as Talk Talk)
15. Racey – Kitty (1979)
The Usurper: Toni Basil (1982, as Mickey)
16. Jules Shear – If She Knew What She Wants (1985)
The Usurper: The Bangles (1986)
17. Prince – I Feel For You (1979)
The Usurper: Chaka Khan (1984)
18. Valentine Brothers – Money’s Too Tight To Mention (1982)
The Usurper: Simply Red (1985)
19. Otis Clay – The Only Way Is Up (1982)
The Usurper: Yazz and the Plastic Population (1988)
20. Beau Williams – C’est La Vie (1984)
The Usurper: Robbie Nevil (1986)
21. The Crickets – More Than I Can Say (1960)
The Usurper: Leo Sayer (1980)
22. Sam & Dave – I Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down (1967)
The Usurper: Elvis Costello & The Attractions (1980)
23. The Paragons – The Tide Is High (1967)
The Usurper: Blondie (1980)

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More Originals:
The Originals: The Classics
The Originals: 1960s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1970s Vol. 1
The Originals: 1990s & 2000s
The Originals: : Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 1
The Originals:  Elvis Presley Edition Vol. 2
The Originals: : Carpenters Edition
The Originals: Burt Bacharach Edition
The Originals: Schlager Edition
The Originals: : Christmas Edition

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The Originals: Elvis Presley Vol. 2

April 30th, 2015 7 comments

The first part of the Elvis Originals covered (as it were) the Rock & Roll years and early post-GI period. Here we have the originals of songs Elvis covered in the 1960s and ’70s.

Elvis Presley”s artistic decline in the1960s is symbolised by the coincidence of his most derided movie, Clambake, which opened at about the same time as The Beatles released their groundbreaking Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band LP. A year later, in 1968, Elvis’ live TV special marked the comeback of Elvis the Entertainer. Elvis the Recording Artist, however, had not had a #1 hit in seven years when in January 1969 he entered the famous American Sound Studios in Memphis.

suspicious-mind

At first the old soul music veterans at the studio were dubious about working with the washed-up ex-king of rock & roll. Elvis soon had them convinced otherwise. Eight days into the session, on January 20, he recorded the Mac Davis-penned In The Ghetto; two days later Suspicious Minds, which by the end of 1969 would top the US charts.

Suspicious Minds was written by American Sound Studios in-house writer Mark James (whose real name was Francis Zambon), who also wrote hits such as It’s Only Love and Hooked On A Feeling for his friend, country singer BJ Thomas. And it was BJ Thomas was in line to record Suspicious Minds, which James had already released on record to no commercial success, before the song was given to Presley. Elvis insisted on recording the song even when his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, threatened that he wouldn’t over the question of publishing rights (always an issue with Parker).

Elvis would record four more songs written or co-written by James: Always On My Mind, Raised On A Rock, Moody Blue (which James released in 1975) and It’s Only Love. Chips Moman produced James” 1968 version of Suspicious Minds, thereby creating a handy template which he returned to when producing Elvis’ version.

 

brenda-lee

Depending on where you live and how old you are, Always On My Mind may be Elvis’ song or Willie Nelson’s, or perhaps the Pet Shop Boys’ (who had a hit with it in late 1987 after earlier performing it on a UK TV special to mark the 10th anniversary of Elvis’ death). Originally it was Brenda Lee’s, released in May 1972. It was not a big hit for her, reaching only #45 in the country charts. Somehow Elvis heard it and found the lyrics expressed his emotions at a time when the marriage to Priscilla was collapsing. He recorded it later in 1972. Released as the b-side to the top 20 hit Separate Ways, Always On My Mind was a #16 hit in the country charts. In the UK, however it was a top 10 hit, and became better know in Europe than in the US.

 

jerry-reed

Another artist whose songs Elvis loved to cover was Jerry Reed, featured here with Guitar Man and US Male, originally released by Reed in 1966 and covered by Elvis two years later. Jerry Reed was a country singer who toiled for a dozen years before scoring a hit in 1967 with Tupelo Mississippi Flash — a song about Elvis. The same year Elvis chose to record Reed’s Guitar Man (the composer is listed as Jerry Hubbard, the singer’s real surname), and Reed played guitar on it. For Elvis, Guitar Man was a redemption of sorts after the degradation of Clambake. His performance of the song at the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special is one of the best moments of the show.

 

bossa-nova-baby

The writers most associated with Elvis are Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Their Bossa Nova Baby has been unjustly regarded by some as a novelty number from an Elvis movie (1963’s Fun In Acapulco). Even Elvis is said to have been embarrassed by it. If so, he had no cause: it may not be a bossa nova — it’s too fast for that — but it has an infectious tune and a genius keyboard riff which begs to be sampled widely. Perhaps it was the lyrics which had Elvis allegedly shamefaced, but the lines —”she said, ‘Drink, drink, drink/Oh, fiddle-de-dink/I can dance with a drink in my hand” — are not much worse than some of the doggerel our man was forced to croon in his movie career as singing racing driver/pineapple heir/bus conductor. Or perhaps Elvis was embarrassed by the idea of including a notional bossa nova number in a movie set in Mexico.

Tippie & the Clovers, who were signed to Leiber and Stoller’s Tiger label, recorded it first in 1962 to cash in on the bossa nova craze. Apparently the composer”s preferred the Clovers’ version over Elvis’. These were the same Clovers, incidentally, who had scored a #23 hit with Love Potion No. 9 (also written by Leiber & Stoller and later covered to greater chart effect by the Searchers) on Atlantic in 1959.

 

crying-in-the-chapel

Elvis was greatly influenced by the sounds of Rhythm & Blues on the one hand and country music on the other — Arthur Crudup and Hank Snow. A third profound influence was gospel. Here, too, Elvis drew from across the colour line. Often he was one of the few white faces at black church services (as a youth in Tupelo, he lived in a house designated for white families but located at the edge of a black township), but he also loved the white gospel-country sounds created by the likes of the Louvin Brothers, whom he once regarded as his favourite act.

Indeed, gospel was the genre Elvis loved the most. In recording studios, he would warm up with gospel numbers. When he jammed with Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins in the Sun studio (Johnny Cash left before any of the misnamed Million Dollar Quartet session was recorded), much of the material consisted of sacred music. At the height of his hip-gyrating greatness, he recorded an EP of spirituals titled Peace In The Valley. And let’s not forget that the only three Grammies Elvis ever received were for gospel recordings.

Elvis” biggest gospel hit was Crying In The Chapel, which had been written in 1953 by Artie Glenn for his son Darrell, who performed it in the country genre. The same year, the R&B band Sonny Til & the Orioles — progenitors of the doo wop style of the late ’50s and the first of a succession of bird-themed bandnames — scored a #11 hit with the song (around the same time, a pop version by June Valli reached #4). It was the Orioles’ recording from which Elvis drew inspiration in his version, recorded shortly after he returned from the army in 1960. It was not released, at Tom Parker’s command, because Artie Glenn refused to share the rights to the song with the cut-throat publishing company of Elvis repertoire, Hill & Range. And with good reason, for the song continued to be a hit by several artists. Eventually Hill & Range secured the ownership. When Crying In The Chapel was eventually released in 1965, it was not only a US hit (his first top 10 single in two years), but also topped the UK charts.

 

wonder-of-you

Apparently written for Perry Como, The Wonder Of You was first recorded by Ray Peterson (he of Tell Laura I Love Her notoriety) in 1959, scoring a moderate hit with it. Peterson, who died in 2005, later liked to recount the story of how Elvis sought his permission to record the song. “He asked me if I would mind if he recorded The Wonder Of You. I said: ‘You don”t have to ask permission; you’re Elvis Presley.’ He said: ‘Yes, I do. You’re Ray Peterson.'” Not that Peterson owned the rights to the song, or was particularly famous for singing it.

Elvis recorded the song live on stage in Las Vegas on February 18, 1970. It was released as a single a couple of months later and was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic, topping the UK charts for six weeks. It was also his last UK #1 during his lifetime.

 

burning-love

Elvis did not particularly like Burning Love; if he didn’t record it under protest, he certainly was not going to spend much time on it. Where 16 years earlier he”d spend 30-odd takes on the spontaneous sounding Hound Dog, he recorded Burning Love in only six takes. The production values were pretty poor: Elvis’ voice sounds tinny, but not for lack of trying. But listen to the drumming! Strange then that this slack recording scored big in the US (#2 on Billboard; the final top 10 hit in his lifetime) and UK (#7).

A year previously, in 1971, the soul singer Arthur Alexander (whom we will meet again when we turn to originals of Beatles songs) recorded Burning Love, releasing it in January 1972, two months before Elvis recorded it. A fine recording in the southern soul tradition, it made no impact. The song’s writer, Dennis Linde, recorded it in 1973 — his version, included here, recalls the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

 

shannon-runaway

With its Bo Diddley-inspired guitar riff and flamenco-meets-rock & roll feel, 1961’s (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame served as a welcome, albeit temporary, break from Elvis’ succession of easy listening fare such as It’s Now Or Never, Surrender and Are You Lonesome Tonight (though within a few months, he’d top the charts with another standard ballad, Can’t Help Falling In Love). Like all these songs, His Latest Flame was not an original.

The song was written by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, who wrote some 20 Elvis songs — including Viva Las Vegas, their demo of which is included here — as well as hits for acts such as The Drifters (Save The Last Dance For Me) and Dion (Teenager In Love). Although reportedly written specifically for Elvis, His Latest Flame was first offered to Bobby Vee, who turned it down. Instead Del Shannon recorded the song in May 1961, with a view to releasing it as a follow-up single for his big hit Runaway. In the event, he decided to run with the non-classic Hats Off To Larry instead. His Latest Flame was released on the Runaway With Del Shannon LP in June “61. The same month Elvis recorded his version, which was released in the US in August. Due to the arcane method of compiling the US charts, the His Latest Flame peaked at #4 and its flip side, Little Sister (another Pomus/Shuman composition) at #5. It topped the charts in Britain.

Shuman tended to tout his co-composition by way of demos on which he sang himself. The demo for His Latest Name is much closer to Elvis’ version than Shannon’s, a less smooth, more soulful interpretation which has something of a mariachi band feel, using brass to accentuate the Diddley-style riff (which the Smiths famously sampled 24 years later on Rusholme Ruffians).

 

rockahulababy

It’s Now Or Never and Surender were based on old Italian songs; Can’t Help Falling In Love on an old French melody. This is the song which ignorant callers to radio stations tend to request by the title “Wise Man Say”. The fictitious title is not entirely off the mark: the lyrics were co-written by a pair of alleged wise guys’ associates, Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, with George David Weiss. Peretti and Creatore were partners with mafioso Mo Levy in the Roulette record label (named after the game that “Colonel” Tom Parker was addicted to), which the FBI identified as a source of revenue for the Genovese crime family. The trio also wrote the lyrics for The Lion Sleeps Tonight, a song stolen from South African musician Solomon Linda.

The melody of Can’t Help Falling In Love borrows from the old French love song Plaisir d’amour, composed in 1785 by Johann Paul Aegidius Martini. It was first recorded in 1902 by Monsieur Fernand (real name Emilio de Gogorza), and subsequently by a zillion others, including in 1908 by the baritone Charles Gilibert (1866-1910). It may be a little more accurate to describe Can’t Help Falling In Love as an adaptation rather than as a cover. While the similarities are sufficiently evident to mark Plaisir d’amour as the basis for the song, it certainly has been innovated on.

The song was adapted in 1961 for Elvis” Blue Hawaii movie (the title track was a cover of a Bing Crosby song, of all things). Reportedly, neither the film’s producers nor Elvis” label, RCA, liked the song much. Elvis, however, insisted on recording it. Elvis often was his best A&R man, and so it was here. The song was initially released as the b-side of Rock-A-Hula Baby (you do know how that one goes, no?). In the event, Can’t Help became the big hit, reaching #2 in the US and #1 in the UK. It also became a signature song for Elvis who would invariably include it in his concerts. Indeed, it was the last song he performed live on stage in Indianapolis on 26 June 1977, Elvis’ final concert.

 

The last five tracks in the mix are demo versions recorded by the songs’ composers. And in the case of A Little Less Conversation, Elvis was the progenitor for the later version which became a hit in 2002 under the Elvis vs JXL moniker.

1. Del Shannon – His Latest Flame (1961)
2. Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters – Such A Night (1956)
3. The Coasters – Girls! Girls! Girls! (1962)
4. Tippie & the Clovers – Bossa Nova Baby (1962)
5. Jerry Reed – Guitar Man (1967)
6. Mark James – Suspicious Minds (1968)
7. Arthur Alexander – Burning Love (1972)
8. Tony Joe White – I’ve Got A Thing About You Baby (1972)
9. Jerry Reed – U.S. Male (1966)
10. Wynn Stewart – Long Black Limousine (1958)
11. Brenda Lee – Always On My Mind (1972)
12. Ferlin Husky – There Goes My Everything (1966)
13. Ray Peterson – The Wonder Of You (1959)
14. Micky Newbury – An American Trilogy (1971)
15. Tony Joe White – Polk Salad Annie (1968)
16. Mark James – Moody Blue (1975)
17. Buffy Sainte-Marie – Until It’s Time For You To Go (1965)
18. Les Paul & Mary Ford – I Really Don’t Want To Know (1954)
19. Darrell Glenn – Crying In The Chapel (1953)
20. Bing Crosby – Blue Hawaii (1937)
21. Charles Gilibert – Plaisir d’amour (1908)
22. Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (1968)
23. Laying Maetine Jr. – Way Down (1976)
24. Mort Shuman – His Latest Flame
25. Mort Shuman – Viva Las Vegas
26. Bill Giant – Devil In Disguise
27. Dennis Linde – Burning Love

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The Originals: Elvis Presley Vol. 1

January 8th, 2015 9 comments

On 8 January Elvis would have turned 80. Let that sink in. And when you bump into an 80-year-old man today — that could be Elvis now!

To mark Elvis” birthday, here’s the first of two mixes of original versions of famous Elvis songs, this one covering Elvis’ output up to 1960. Four are actually not really originals: the last three are demos which were presented to Presley (and the Elvis recordings show just how great an interpreter of song he was). And Aura Lee was reworked as Love Me Tender; it was an old song first copyrighted in 1861. It was sung by Frances Farmer in the 1936 movie Come and Get It!, but wasn’t released on record.

Then there’s Hound Dog, featured twice: in Big Mama Thornton’s original recording of the song, and the version on which Elvis based his, by Freddie Bell and the Bellboys, an Italo-American band he had seen during his discouraging concert engagement in Vegas in April/May 1956. Between Thornton and Presley the song had been brutalised in a series of covers which dismantled the original lyrics and added doggerel to it (such as the rabbit line) to become the nonsense we know today.

Freddie Bell & the Bellboys, on whose rendition of Hound Dog Elvis based his.

Freddie Bell & the Bellboys, on whose rendition of Hound Dog Elvis based his.

 

This collection of songs proves one thing: Elvis didn’t just, as the popular narrative has it, “steal” black music and made it big on its back. Elvis certainly was a big fan of the various strands of what we now call R&B, and no doubt was heavily influenced by it. But he also drew much from country music, as well as from gospel. Indeed, his first public performance was as a ten-year-old at a talent show in his hometown Tupelo, where he performed Old Shep, a hit from 1941 by Red Foley (he had first recorded it in 1935, about his German shepherd Hoover, who had been poisoned by a neighbour). Elvis first stage performances were on the country circuit, especially on the Louisiana Hayride. And it was through country star Hank Snow that he met the ghastly “Colonel” Parker.

Elvis’ first hit was, of course, a cover of a blues tune, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup’s That’s All Right Mama. It”s the song that changed Rock & Roll forever. Young Elvis was in the Sun studios in Memphis, auditioning for the legendary Sam Phillips (in other accounts the story is set, more credibly, during the first recording session). Elvis, the story goes, was failing the audition, having crooned one ballad after another in Dean Martin mode. It was not the sound Phillips was looking for.

During a break (or at the end of the session), Elvis starting goofing around with his guitar, singing That’s All Right. Session musicians Scotty Moore and Bill Black joined in. Sam Phillips later recalled: “The door to the control room was open, the mics were on, Scotty was in the process of packing up his guitar, I think Bill had already thrown his old bass down “he didn’t even have a cover for it” and the session was, to all intents and purposes, over. Then Elvis struck up on just his rhythm guitar, ‘That’s all right, mama..,’ and I mean he got my attention immediately. It could have been that it wouldn’t have sold ten copies, but that was what I was looking for!”

Elvis later also covered Crudup’s very similar My Baby Left Me. Crudup fought for the rest of his life to receive due royalties, making his living as a bootlegger and field labourer. In 1971 an agreement for $60,000 was agreed with Melrose Publishers, who proceeded to blankly refuse paying up. Crudup died penniless in 1974 at the age of 68.

Arthur Crudup, from whom Elvis covered two songs.

Arthur Crudup, from whom Elvis covered two songs.

 

Some say that Good Rockin’ Tonight was the proto Rock & Roll record. Of course, any claim of inaugurating Rock & Roll is impossible to validate because the genre was the result of a musical evolution (and it is still evolving). What can be said is that the song, and most certainly Wynonie Harris’ 1948 cover, was influential in that evolution. Good Rockin’ Tonight was Elvis’ second single. So it is faintly ironic that Presley’s version draws more from Brown’s 1947 jump blues original (deleting, however, the by then outdated litany of R&B figures) than from Harris’ R&B cover.

It was not the most popular of Elvis’ early tunes; his still mostly country audience was still unsure about the influence of what was then called “race music” on the future legend’s sound. In those embryonic days of Elvis’ stardom, his most popular song seemed to be the flip side of That’s Alright, Blue Moon Of Kentucky.

It is difficult to pinpoint at which point Elvis became a superstar, or with which hit. He was a local star as soon as his debut single hit the Memphis airwaves, and a regional star soon after. Arguably, his nascent stardom was built not so much on hit recordings than on his incendiary performances delivered on intensive tours. On these tours, he often shared a bill with his Sun label mates Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

It was on one such tour in November 1955, in Gladewater, Texas, that Cash gave Perkins the idea for Blues Suede Shoes (in return for Perkins inspiring the title for Cash’s future hit I Walk The Line), based on a catchphrase by one C.V. White, an African-American GI Cash had served with in West Germany. White, the story as told by one of Cash’s GI friends goes, was about to go out for the weekend when another soldier accidentally trod on White”s black army issue shoes, whereupon White exclaimed: “I don’t care what you do with my Fräulein or what you do with whatever, but don’t step on my blues suede shoes.” The joke, obviously, was that White was not actually wearing such shoes (which, in any case, where not in fashion), but regulation issue army shoes.

Soon after he heard that story, Perkins was at a dance when he saw a young man being visibly upset with his pretty date for stepping on his, you guessed it, blue suede shoes. Sufficiently inspired, he immediately wrote the lyrics on a paper potato sack, giving birth to one of Rock & Roll’s great classics.

Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Three of them play a role in the story of Blue Suede Shoes. Lewis later also covered it, and Cash played it on stage.

Million Dollar Quartet: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Three of them play a role in the story of Blue Suede Shoes. Lewis later also covered it, and Cash played it on stage.

 

It may have been the first true crossover record; it certainly was the first to chart simultaneously in the pop, country and R&B charts, in early 1956. As the song was rising in the charts, Perkins was laid low by a serious car crash on the way to performing his hit on the Ed Sullivan Show. While he was recuperating, he heard former Sun colleague Elvis announcing on the Milton Berle Show that his next single would be Blues Suede Shoes, which he proceeded to perform, as he would twice more before releasing the single. Although Perkins was unable to promote the song further, it went on to sell more than a million copies.

By arrangement, Elvis waited until Perkins’ version had peaked. Released so soon after Perkins’ hit, Elvis’ version reached no higher than #20 on the charts. Yet, public consciousness associates the song more closely with Elvis than with its author, possibly because he performed it several times on television, and riffed on the footwear in a few skits on these shows.

Perkins, whose career or health never really recovered from the car crash, was philosophical about Elvis scoring the more lasting hit, saying that Presley had the image and the looks, and he did not. He surely was less placid about not receiving writer’s royalties until a court found in his favour in 1977.

Arguably Elvis the Rock & Roller died in 1960 when, having returned from the army, he recorded crooners’ material such as It’s Now Or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight. The latter was recorded at the behest of Tom Parker as it was a favourite of his wife, Mrs Marie Parker, in its 1940s version by country star Gene Austin. Written by Tin Pan Alley residents Lou Handman and Roy Turk in 1926, it was recorded by a swathe of artists in 1927. The first of these versions, by Ned Jakobs, was not released, so the honour of first released recording goes to one Charles Hart.

The song enjoyed a revival in the 1950s. It was the 1950 version by Blue Barron and his Orchestra which served as the basis for Elvis’ take on Are You Lonesome Tonight, with Al Jolson’s version of the same year inspiring the spoken part, which borrows from Shakespeare’s As You Like It (“All the world’s a stage” etc).

1. Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – That’s All Right (1947)
2. Roy Brown – Good Rockin’ Tonight (1947)
3. Smiley Lewis – One Night Of Sin (1956)
4. Big Mama Thornton – Hound Dog (1953)
5. Freddie Bell & the Bellboys – Hound Dog (1956)
6. Carl Perkins – Blue Suede Shoes (1956)
7. Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup – My Baby Left Me (1950)
8. Little Junior & the Blue Flames – Mystery Train (1953)
9. Eddie Riff – Ain’t That Loving You Baby (1956)
10. Chuck Wills – I Feel So Bad (1954)
11. Shep Fields Rippling Rhythm – That’s When Your Heartaches Begin (1937)
12. Charles Hart – Are You Lonesome Tonight (1927)
13. Frances Farmer – Aura Lea (1936)
14. Flying Clouds Of Detroit – Peace In The Valley (1947)
15. Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys – Blue Moon Of Kentucky (1947)
16. Red Foley – Old Shep (1941)
17. Wiley Walker & Gene Sullivan – When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again (1941)
18. Hank Snow – Now And Then There’s A Fool Such As I (1952)
19. Willy & Ruth – Love Me (1954)
20. Bernard Hardison – Too Much (1956)
21. Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters – Such A Night (1954)
22. Glen Reeves – Heartbreak Hotel (1955)
23. Otis Blackwell – Teddy Bear (1956)
24. Otis Blackwell – All Shook Up (1956)

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