Original performers; you know the cover version

Jackie DeShannon

My friend Fred Hembeck gave me a collection of songs some years ago. The thing they have in common is that they were all very familiar, but not by the artists on the disc.

These were the original performers. So I decided to post some songs that I didn’t know were the first recorded versions, some from that album plus a few extras.

Dedicated To The One I Love – The Five Royales  (1957), The Shirelles (1959).  The Mamas and the Papas also recorded this.
I Can’t Stop Lovin’ You – Don Gibson (1958), Ray Charles (1962). Written by Gibson on June 7, 1957, the same day he wrote Oh, Lonesome Me, later covered by Neil Young, among others.
I’m Leavin’ It All Up To You – Don and Dewey (1959), Dale and Grace (1963). Donny and Marie also covered this.
Twist and Shout – The Top Notes (1961), The  Isley Brothers (1962). Also covered by a Liverpudlian band of some note.

Someday We’ll Be Together – Johnny and Jackie (1961), Diana Ross and the Supremes (1969). The songwriters were Johnny Bristol, Jackey Beavers (the singers of the original), and Harvey Fuqua. The cover is Diana with non-Supremes background singers.
Nobody But Me – The Isley Brothers (1962), The Human Beinz (1968)
You’re No Good – Dee Dee Warwick (1963), Betty Everett (1963). Yes, DeeDee was the sister of Dionne. Linda had a big hit
Do-Wah-Diddy –  The Exciters  (1963), Manfred Mann (1964). Written by the great songwriting duo of Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry

Dr. Kildare?

Needles And Pins – Jackie DeShannon (1963), The Searchers (1964). Written by Jack Nitzsche and Sonny Bono
(They Long to Be) Close to You – Richard Chamberlain (1963), Carpenters  (1970). Chamberlain was TV’s Dr. Kildare. Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.
Go Now – Bessie Banks (1964), Moody Blues (1964)
I’m Into Something Good – Earl-Jean (1964), Herman’s Hermits (1964). Earl-Jean was a member of the Cookies. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King

My Girl Sloopy – The Vibrations (1964),  The McCoys (1965 as Hang On, Sloopy)
Good Lovin’ – Lemme B. Good (1965), The Olympics (1965), The Young Rascals (1966)
Bette Davis Eyes – Jackie DeShannon (1974), Kim Carnes (1981). Written by DeShannon and Donna Weiss.
I Love Rock ’N Roll – The Arrows (1975), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (1982)

A song that’s a classical favorite

I stand by my love for the Chopin lift

bach guitarThe prompt: A song that’s a classic favorite; I don’t know specifically what that means. Therefore, I’ve decided that it means songs that are classical favorites.

Oh, but not the classical VERSIONS, but rather the pop iterations. As it turns out, way back in 2011, I did a post on the topic. S is for Songs from the classics. I had to replace about a half dozen YouTube videos, understandably.

In the post, I touted A Lover’s Concerto by the Toys; American Tune by Paul Simon; Stranger in Paradise by the Supremes; Nut Rocker by B. Bumble and the Stingers; A Fifth of Beethoven by Walter Murphy; Night on Disco Mountain by David Shire; and Ebony Rhapsody by Nat King Cole.

There were also three articles links, but only the first one works. It points to a lengthy list of popular songs from the past century that incorporate classical compositions.

What else should I mention?

Spanish Caravan – the Doors. The intro riff was taken from “Asturias,” a classical piece by Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz (1860 – 1909). The song was written by Robbie Krieger and it appears on the Waiting for the Sun album.

Hallelujah Chorus – the Roches. I got to hear them sing this live many years ago; it was amazing. Also love the album from which it’s taken, Keep On Doing.

Beethoven Symphony 7, Movement II (Allegretto) – Waldo de los Rios. Appears on one of those Warner Brothers Loss Leader albums.

I’ve already written about the Rheingold Beer Jingle from Estudiantina Valse, written by Paul Lacome and rearranged by Emil Waldteufel

And I stand by my love for the Chopin lift at the beginning and the end of
Could It Be Magic by Barry Manilow.

Finally, a piece of music that merely SOUNDS as though it were rooted in the classics: Conquistador – Procol Harum. The version from Live: In Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (1972) is far superior to the 1967 studio take on their eponymous first album.

C is for Cover songs

For arcane reasons, I listen to a lot of Beatles covers in the month of July, in honor of Ringo Starr’s birthday.

A cover song is a version of a recording released subsequent to the original one. Sometimes the most popular version is a cover: Good Lovin’ by the Young Rascals [LISTEN] was initially recorded by someone dubbed Lemme B. Good, then was a minor hit by The Olympics [LISTEN], which I own. I Heard It Through the Grapevine was a massive hit for Marvin Gaye [LISTEN], though the original by Gladys Knight and the Pips [LISTEN] (my preferred version, actually) went to #2 on the US charts a year earlier.

What makes a good cover song is that it is not merely a slavish imitation of the original. Otherwise, what’s the point? The version of You Keep Me Hanging On by Vanilla Fudge [LISTEN] had been criticized as excessive, but it’s sure different than what the original Supremes [LISTEN] put out.

Sometimes a cover is SO good that even the originator will bow to the successor. Otis Redding [LISTEN] acknowledged that Aretha Franklin [LISTEN] had “stole” Respect from him, meaning it was now hers, though he wrote it and sang it first. Likewise, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails realized that Hurt has become a Johnny Cash [LISTEN], not a NIN [LISTEN], song.

For arcane reasons, I listen to Beatles covers in the month of July, in honor of Ringo Starr’s birthday. There are a LOT of them; by the time the Beatles broke up, there were over 2500 versions of Yesterday alone, most of them boring.

I have about three dozen Beatles’ cover albums. There are classical, Latin, bluegrass, country, soul collections. I have whole albums covered by various artists, some compiled by MOJO magazine, plus whole albums by the Smithereens, Big Daddy, and others. My friend Fred Hembeck put together some compilations; the worse version among them, Hey Jude by an uninspired, off-key Elvis Presley. I made a few collections myself, from CD that have Beatles-inspired cuts.

Arguably the best Beatles interpreter is Joe Cocker. He came to fame at Woodstock singing A Little Help From My Friends [LISTEN to the studio version]. He’s made a whole song out of the Abbey Road-segued She Came Into The Bathroom Window [LISTEN]. But my favorite of his takes is You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away [LISTEN].

I should mention again my favorite music podcast, Coverville, which comes out twice a week. One episode is a cover story of a particular artist, while the other might be a request show, some independent artist hodgepodge, or based on a theme.

Favorite cover by original artist QUESTION

I’m really struck by Lesley Gore’s remake of You Don’t Own Me from the 2005 Ever Since album.

Sometimes, an artist will cover his/her/their own song. Frank Sinatra, among others, did it quite a bit over his long career.

What are YOUR favorite songs by the same artist? I’m not going to get too strict here. If you want to pick Layla, originally done by Derek and the Dominoes then subsequently unplugged by Eric Clapton, that’d be acceptable, since Derek WAS Eric. Speaking of Clapton, I prefer the live version of I’m So Glad from Goodbye Cream to the studio version on Fresh Cream.

I had this cassette of Procol Harum’s greatest hits and it included a live version of Conquistador, with an orchestra. Years later, when I got a similar CD, it had the studio version; not nearly as impressive.

Listen to Crying by Roy Orbison, a fine song, but the version by Orbison with k.d. lang makes me, well, cry.

I always preferred the remix Mustapha Dance by The Clash to its antecedent, Rock the Casbah.

Just listened to a Ladysmith Black Mambazo album. They do a couple songs from Graceland, Homeless and Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes, sans Paul Simon, but with Sarah McLachlan and Melissa Etheridge, respectively. Can’t find these online, unfortunately.

I’m really struck by Lesley Gore’s remake of You Don’t Own Me (this is a live take, not the version I really wanted from the 2005 Ever Since album), recognizable as the same song as the classic original, but different.

From Which “Grapevine” Did You Hear It?

Which iteration should be considered the original? Surely, one could make a case for the Miracles’ version. But many experts would pick the version first released, and that would be the Pips’.

I love good cover versions of songs. Came across a rather fine list from Popdose. And I so agree with the opening statement: “It’s generally agreed upon that if you don’t have any new flavor to add to the original, you shouldn’t bother doing a cover.”

Certainly can’t argue with the top two, “Respect” by Aretha Franklin, originally performed by Otis Redding; and “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, originally done by Bob Dylan. Both of the original artists have acknowledged the transformative nature of these covers. A previous list I saw contained songs that I had never heard of in the Top 10, which I discovered were less than six years old; seems to me these songs need to stand the test of time

But I have one nit to pick over this list, and it’s around the song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” As noted here and elsewhere, the song by Motown staff writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong was first recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles on August 6, 1966. And Marvin Gaye recorded his version on April 10, 1967. But Berry Gordy, the head of Motown, hated the song & vetoed the releases by both artists.

Gladys Knight and the Pips’ version* was recorded next, and was very reluctantly released by Gordy. It went to #1 on the R&B charts for six weeks, and to #2 on the pop charts for three weeks in the fall of 1967.

It was only after this point that the other two versions were released. The Miracles’ was just an album cut, but Marvin Gaye’s single was #1 for seven weeks on both the R&B and pop charts in the late fall of 1968, a Grammy Hall of Fame winner in 2001. “Gaye’s version has since become a landmark in pop music. In 2004, it ranked No.80 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the commemorative 50th Anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Gaye’s version was ranked as the 65th biggest song on the chart.”

So two questions exist for me: first, which iteration should be considered the original? Surely, one could make a case for the Miracles’ version. But many experts, such as Brian Ibbott of Coverville, would pick the version first released, and that would be the Pips’.

Also, how could the panel pick the perfectly fine version of this song by Creedence Clearwater Revival* over the Marvin Gaye classic, even if the latter did get overplayed in the 1980s, around the time of the movie the Big Chill? Not so incidentally, I don’t own the Miracles’ version, but I do have CCR, Gaye, and the Pips, which is actually my favorite take.

And while I’m thinking about Marvin, I would definitely find room on that covers list for Wherever I Lay My Hat, originally done by Gaye, but covered by Paul Young.

*Link to the music