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Any Major Originals – Bacharach Edition

January 29th, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

Often Burt Bacharach had a lucky hand in producing the best-known version of his compositions at the first attempt — and after 1963, he usually was the de facto producer and arranger of his songs — first (and sometimes subsequent) recordings, even when others would get the credit.

So songs like Only Love Can Break A Heart, What’s New, Pussycat, Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head and This Guy’s In Love are best known in their original versions by Gene Pitney, Tom Jones, B.J. Thomas and Herb Alpert respectively. And, of course, there are all the Dionne Warwick hits, such as Walk On By, Do You Know The Way To San José or Promises Promises which have been covered often but never eclipsed. The one Warwick/Bacharach hit that provides the rule-proving exception is I Say a Little Prayer, a US #10 hit for Aretha Franklin in 1968, two years after it reached #4 for Warwick.

So here are Bacharach songs which may be better known — and, in some cases, definitely are better — in later versions. In many of these cases, geography is the key. For example, in the US, The Story Of My Life from 1957 will be associated with Marty Robbins, but in Britain it was a #1 hit for Michael Holliday. The same may apply to Anyone Who Had A Heart, which in Britain is Cilla Black’s song rather than Dionne’s (and, depending on generation, to some it is Luther Vandross’ song). The Story Of My Life was, incidentally, the first collaboration between Bacharach and Hal David to become a hit, years before they started to work together regularly and, for a time, exclusively. It went #1 Country, #15 Pop and reached #2 in Australia.

A few songs were bigger hits than their better-known covers. For example, The Shirelles had a US #8 hit with Baby It’s You in 1962, but The Beatles’ version enjoys greater familiarity by force of album sales.

Other songs were not hits until later. Keely Smith’s One Less Bell To Answer sank without a trace until The 5th Dimension had a hit with it three years later. I’ll Never Fall In Love Again might have been familiar to those who knew the soundtrack for the 1968 musical Promises, Promises (for which Jerry Orbach — yes, Lennie Briscoe from Law & Order — won a Tony Award. British fans will know it better as Bobbie Gentry’s hit, or in Dionne’s version, and younger generations might think of it as Elvis Costello’s song from the Austin Powers 2 movie.

I would guess that Bacharach probably was happy enough with most hit covers of his songs (though I wonder what he made of The Stranglers and Naked Eyes covers of his tunes); one which he apparently really dislikes is Love’s 1966 rock classic version of Manfred Mann’s My Little Red Book, which was written for the film What’s New, Pussycat.

Two more recent songs postscript this collection, both from movie soundtracks. Rod Stewart’s version of That’s What Friends Are For appeared on the soundtrack of the Michael Keaton vehicle Nightshift (1982) before it was revived by Dionne Warwick and her pals. Siedah Garrett’s Everchanging Times featured in the 1987 Diane Keaton flick Baby Boom before Aretha Franklin & Michael McDonald covered it to good effect in 1992.

Not all the songs here are Bacharach/David compositions. Tower Of Strength and Any Day Now were written with Bob Hilliard; Baby It’s You with Mack David (Hal’s brother) and Luther Dixon, and the two 1980s songs with Carol Bayer-Sager.

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

1. Marty Robbins – The Story Of My Life (1958)
The Usurpers: Michael Holliday (1958); Gary Miller (1958)

2. Gene McDaniels – Tower Of Strength (1961)
The Usurper: Frankie Vaughan (1961)

3. Jerry Butler – Make It Easy On Yourself (1962)
The Usurper: Walker Brothers (1965)

4. Chuck Jackson – Any Day Now (1962)
The Usurpers: Elvis Presley (1969), Ronnie Milsap (1978)

5. The Shirelles – Baby, It’s You (1962)
The Usurpers: The Beatles (1963); Smith (1969)

6. Tommy Hunt – I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (1962)
The Usurpers: Dusty Springfield (1964); Dionne Warwick (1966)

7. The Fairmount Singers – The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
The Usurper: Gene Pitney (1962)

8. Gene McDaniels – Another Tear Falls (1962)
The Usurper: Walker Brothers (1966)

9. Dionne Warwick – Wishin’ And Hopin’ (1963)
The Usurpers: Dusty Springfield (1964); Merseybeats (1964)

10. Lou Johnson – Reach Out For Me (1963)
The Usurper: Dionne Warwick (1964)

11. Jerry Butler – Message To Martha (1963)
The Usurpers: Adam Faith (1964); Dionne Warwick (as Message To Michael, 1966)

12. Dionne Warwick – Anyone Who Had A Heart (1963)
The Usurpers: Cilla Black (1964); Petula Clark (1964)

13. Richard Chamberlain – (They Long To Be) Close To You (1964)
The Usurpers: Carpenters (1970); Gwen Guthrie (1986)

14. Brook Benton – A House Is Not A Home (1964)
The Usurpers:  Dionne Warwick (1964); Luther Vandross (1981)

15. Lou Johnson – (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me (1964)
The Usurpers: Sandie Shaw (1964); Naked Eyes, 1982)

16. Burt Bacharach – Trains And Boats And Planes (1965)
The Usurper: Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas (1965)

17. Dionne Warwick – You’ll Never Get To Heaven (1964)
The Usurper: The Stylistics (1976)

18. Manfred Mann – My Little Red Book (1965)
The Usurper: Love (1966)

19. Dusty Springfield – The Look Of Love (1967)
The Usurpers: Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (1968); Isaac Hayes (1971)

20. Keely Smith – One Less Bell To Answer (1967)
The Usurper: The 5th Dimension (1970)

21. Jill O’Hara & Jerry Orbach – I’ll Never Fall In Love Again (1968)
The Usurpers: Bobbie Gentry (1969); Dionne Warwick (1970)

22. Rod Stewart – That’s What Friends Are For (1982)
The Usurper: Dionne Warwick & Friends, 1986)

23. Siedah Garrett – Everchanging Times (1987)
The Usurper: Aretha Franklin & Michael McDonald (1992)


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  1. halfhearteddude
    February 21st, 2013 at 07:13 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Bo
    February 21st, 2013 at 07:58 | #2

    A large thank you

  3. Latanya
    February 21st, 2013 at 08:31 | #3

    I disagree with two points. Here in the States, “Baby, It’s You” is more known by The Shirelles and more liked as well as “Anyone Who Had a Heart” by Dionne Warwick.

  4. halfhearteddude
    February 21st, 2013 at 10:24 | #4

    The notion of which version is better known clearly isn’t universal; it transcends geography and generations. I’ve heard “Anyone Who Had A Heart” being referred to as a Luther Vandross song, and in Britain it was a hit for Cilla Black, who obviously was rather unknown in the US. And in most of Europe, I suspect “Baby It’s You” is thought of as a Beatles song because The Shirelles’ version wasn’t a hit there while the Beatles were massive. I think there are a few more on this mix where the original is better known among some people, and a cover version by others. I think it’s fair to use those, whereas it would have been obviously silly to use those songs that are commonly associated weityh the original artist (Walk On By, San José, Raindrops, This Guy’s In Love etc).

  5. Lisa
    February 21st, 2013 at 19:03 | #5

    And then there is “God Give Me Strength” which IMHO is one of the best songs ever written, the co-write with Elvis Costello. And you have Costello’s version, Bette Midler’s version, Audra McDonald’s version and, most recently and available though hard to find, Mike Viola’s version (a rare cover from one of the best songwriters of the current era, though he’s best known as “the voice” of The Wonders in “That Thing You Do!”) but my favorite version is that of Kristin Vigard, who dubbed the voice of Illeana Douglas in the film “Grace of My Heart” where the song was first heard … Elvis’ solo version plays over the closing credits but the quintessential version, to me, is the Douglas/Vigard performance of it IN the film.

    This may be a rare case where I would go with someone else over either Mike Viola or Audra McDonald, two of my idols. Or even Elvis Costello, ditto.

  6. Rhod
    February 22nd, 2013 at 12:03 | #6

    Thanks for the great share. Love your work.



  7. February 24th, 2013 at 15:26 | #7

    @Latanya I wasn’t even aware The Beatles had covered it. I’ve heard the other two versions lots of times.

  8. Andy
    March 14th, 2013 at 22:28 | #8

    All this arguing about whether the Beatles or Shirelles had the better known version of “Baby It’s You”! You’re ignoring the important thing; Smith had the BEST version.

    I don’t really care for Burt Bacharach’s music and won’t be downloading this. But I stopped in to say that the cover you made for this collection is excellent. It looks like an original from the Sixties or Seventies.

  9. halfhearteddude
    March 15th, 2013 at 12:00 | #9

    The cover is a pastiche of his “Reach Out” LP: http://www.bacharachonline.com/bacharach_pix/albums/reachout/reachout_01.jpg

  10. Dave Heasman
    June 5th, 2021 at 02:04 | #10

    Another really good version of “Always something there to remind me” is the French one b y Eddy Mitchell – “Toujours un coin qui me rappelle”

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