Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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California Soul

First recorded by The Messengers (1967).
Hit versions by The 5th Dimension (US #25/R&B #49 1969), Marlena Shaw (1969 |UK #157 2008), Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (US #56 1970), Riot Act (UK #59 2005).
Also recorded by Edwin Starr (1970), The Undisputed Truth (1971).

From the wiki: “‘California Soul’ was a Pop-Soul song written by Nick Ashford & Valeria Simpson and first recorded in 1967 by Motown’s Monkees-inspired group, The Messengers, released as the B-side of the group’s ‘Window Shopping’ single. It would also be covered in 1967 by Motown superstars Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – one of Tammi’s final recordings before being diagnosed with brain cancer – but would go unreleased until 1970 when it became the celebrated duo’s final single, released following Tammi’s death in March 1970.

“‘California Soul’ first charted as a single recorded in late 1968 by The 5th Dimension. UK singer Marlena Shaw covered the song the following year for her album Spice of Life. Shaw’s version originally was not released as a single in the US but became a staple of the UK Northern Soul scene. Following its use in a TV advert in 2008, the song’s re-release became Shaw’s best-known recording in the UK. UK group Riot Act charted in 2005 with their recording of ‘California Soul’. Apart from The Messengers and Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrell, other Motown recording artists who also recorded covers of ‘California Soul’ included Edwin Starr, in 1970; and The Undisputed Truth, in 1971. ”

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, “California Soul” (1967, released 1970):

The 5th Dimension, “California Soul” (1968):

Marlena Shaw, “California Soul” (1969):

Edwin Starr, “California Soul” (1970):

The Undisputed Truth, “California Soul” (1971):

Riot Act, “California Soul” (2005):

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