Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Category: Latin

So Nice (Summer Samba)

First recorded (as “Samba De Verão”) by Eumir Deodato (1964).
First vocal recording (as “Samba De Verão”) by Marcos Valle (1965).
Hit versions (in English) by The Walter Wanderley Trio (US #26/MOR #3 1966), Johnny Mathis (MOR #17 1966), Connie Francis (MOR #17 1966), Vicki Carr (MOR #32 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Summer Samba’ (also known as ‘So Nice’ or its original Portuguese title, ‘Samba de Verão’) is a 1964 Bossa nova song by Brazilian composer Marcos Valle, with English-language lyrics by Norman Gimbel; the original Portuguese lyrics came from Paulo Sérgio Valle, brother to the composer. Brazilian musician, arranger and producer Eumir Deodato, a musical autodidact, starting with the accordion at age 12, first recorded the song in 1964.

“The song was first popularized by the Walter Wanderley Trio in 1966 — the album Rain Forest. Also reaching the U.S. MOR chart in 1966 with versions by Johnny Mathis, Connie Francis, and Vikki Carr. In fact, at least one source claims that three different versions were on the Billboard charts at the same time in 1966. Allmusic has said of Wanderley’s version, ‘His recording … is regarded as perhaps a more definitive Bossa tune than ‘Girl From Ipanema’.’ Wanderley’s version was the biggest seller in the U.S., reaching #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966, (#3 on the MOR chart).”

Desafinado

First recorded by João Gilberto (1958).
Hit versions by Ella Fitzgerald (US #102/UK #38 1962), Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd (US #15/MOR #4/UK #11 1962).

From the wiki: “‘Desafinado’ (a Portuguese word usually rendered into English as ‘out of tune’ or as ‘off Key’) is a Bossa nova song composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim with lyrics (in Portuguese) by Newton Mendonça. English-language lyrics were later written by Jon Hendricks and ‘Jessie Cavanaugh’ (a pseudonym used by The Richmond Organisation). Another English lyric, more closely based on the original Portuguese lyric (but not an exact translation) would later be written by Gene Lees.

“The 1962 recording by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd (from the album Jazz Samba) would become the definitive version, becoming a major Pop hit in 1962 in both the US and the UK. The song was voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone magazine as the 14th greatest Brazilian song. ‘Desafinado’ was also inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame in 2001.”

Guantanamera

First recorded (as “Guajira Guantanamera”) by Joséito Fernández (1940).
Also recorded by Pete Seeger (1963).
Hit versions by The Sandpipers (US #9/MOR #3/UK #7/CAN #10/IRE #3 1966), Los Paraguayos (UK #187 1996), The Fugees & Wyclef Jean (US #62/R&B #23/UK #25 1987).

From the wiki: “‘Guantanamera’ (Spanish: ‘from Guantánamo, feminine’, thus ‘she from Guantánamo’) is perhaps the best-known Cuban song and that country’s most noted patriotic song. The music for the song is sometimes attributed to José Fernández Diaz, known as Joseíto Fernández, who claimed to have written it at various dates (consensus puts 1929 as its year of origin), and who used it regularly in one of his radio programs. After a lengthy copyright dispute, the People’s Supreme Court of Cuba credited Fernández as the sole composer of the music in 1993.

“The version recorded in 1963 by Pete Seeger (‘Turn! Turn! Turn!‘, ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh)‘), for his We Shall Overcome album, was based on lyrics written by Cuban patriot José Martí and is said to be the definitive recording of ‘Guantanamera’. Seeger combined Martí’s verse with the tune, with the intention that it be used by the peace movement at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. He urged that people sing the song as a symbol of unity between the American and Cuban peoples. The most commercially-successful version of ‘Guantanamera’ in the English-speaking world was recorded by easy listening vocal group The Sandpipers in 1966.”

Jingo

Written and first recorded (as “Jin-Go-Lo-Ba”) by Babatunde Olatunji (1960).
Hit album version by Santana (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Jin-Go-Lo-Ba’ was the most popular song on the Drums of Passion album released in 1960 by Nigerian percussionist Babatunde Olatunji, unquestionably the first recording to popularize African music in the West. The simple exchange between the mother drum (iya ilu) and the baby drum (omele) became Babatunde’s signature song. When Santana later covered the song, in 1969, and used it as the B-side to ‘Evil Ways‘, the writing credit was mangled. Initial pressings of the Santana album and the 45 erroneously listed Aaron Copland as the ‘Jingo’ composer! It turns out Copland did compose a song titled ‘Jingo’ – just not this one.”

The Peanut Vendor

First recorded (as “El manisero”) by Rita Montaner con Orquesta (1927).
Hit versions by Don Azpiazu & His Havana Casino Orchestra (US #1 1930), Louis Armstrong (US #15 1930), Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1931), The California Ramblers (US #5 1931), Stan Kenton & His Orchestra (US #1 1947).

From the wiki: “‘El manisero’, known in English as ‘The Peanut Vendor’, is a Cuban son-pregón composed by Moisés Simons. Together with ‘Guantanamera’, it is arguably the most famous piece of music created by a Cuban musician. ‘The Peanut Vendor'” has been recorded more than 160 times, sold over a million copies of the sheet music, and was the first million-selling 78 rpm of Cuban music. Its success was far-reaching, directly leading to the ‘Rumba craze’ in the US and Europe which lasted through the 1940s.

Perfidia

First recorded by Lupita Palomera with Lira de San Cristobal (1937).
Hit versions by Xavier Cugat & His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra (US #3 1941), The Four Aces (US #7 1952), The Ventures (US #15/UK #4 1960).
Also recorded by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (1941), Linda Ronstadt (1992).

From the wiki: “‘Perfidia’ (Spanish for ‘perfidy’, as in faithlessness, treachery or betrayal) was written by Alberto Domínguez about love and betrayal, and first recorded (in Spanish) in 1937 by Lupita Palomera. Other hit versions were recorded by The Four Aces (1952) and The Ventures (1960).

“Linda Ronstadt’s 1992 recording of the song in English with a Spanish introduction was used in the 1992 movie The Mambo Kings. Ronstadt also recorded the song in Spanish for her 1992 album Frenesí. At the 9th Lo Nuestro Awards, in 1993, her español version received a nomination for Tropical Song of the Year.

Mas, Que Nada!

First recorded by Jorge Ben (1963).
Hit version by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (US#47/MOR #4 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Mas, Que Nada!’ was written and originally performed by Jorge Ben on his 1963 debut album. The song would later become the signature song of Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66. It has been voted by the Brazilian edition of Rolling Stone magazine as the 5th greatest Brazilian song, and has been inducted into the Latin Grammy Hall of Fame. In Brazilian Portuguese slang, mas, que nada (literally, ‘but, that [is] nothing’) means ‘no way’, ‘whatever’, or ‘yeah, right!’. In many recordings, the title song is incorrectly written ‘Mais que nada’, Portuguese for ‘more than nothing’. Mendes covered the song on the album Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (1966). In the United States, the single reached #47 on the Billboard pop chart, as well as #4 on the MOR chart. This 1966 version is the best-known and, to many, the definitive version of the song.”

Girl from Ipanema

First released (as “Garota de Ipanema”) by Pery Ribeiro (1962).
Hit versions by Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto (US #5/MOR #1/UK #29 1964), Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto (MOR #1 1964).
Also recorded by Ella Fitzgerald (as “Boy from Ipanema”, 1965), Amy Winehouse (2002).

From the wiki: “‘Garota de Ipanema’ (‘The Girl from Ipanema’) was the worldwide Bossa nova hit song that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel. The first commercial recording was in 1962, by Pery Ribeiro. The 1964 single, performed by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz and shortened from the album version recorded in 1963 by Getz and Joao Gilberto, became the international hit. The original choice as vocalist was Sarah Vaughan, but when Gilberto heard the English translation, he decided that Astrud – Joao’s wife – should sing it. Her subtle vocal added a nuance to the song.

“Numerous recordings have been used in films, sometimes as an elevator music cliché, and the song has been covered by other singers innumerable times (including a gender-turning version. titled ‘Boy from Ipanema’, sung by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee). ‘Girl from Ipanema’ is believed to be the second most recorded pop song in history, after ‘Yesterday’ by The Beatles.

Love Me With All of Your Heart

First recorded (as “Cuando calienta el sol”) by Los Hermanos Rigual (1961).
Hit versions by Steve Allen & His Orchestra (US #85 1963), The Ray Charles Singers (US #3 1964), Karl Denver (UK #35 1964), The Bachelors (US #38 1966), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #7 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Love Me with All Your Heart’ was based on the Spanish-language song “Cuando calienta el sol”, written by Nicaraguan songwriter and bandleader Rafael Gaston Perez, and made famous first with Spanish lyrics written by the Rigual Brothers (Carlos Rigual and Mario Rigual). The English-language lyrics are sometimes credited to Michael Vaughn (or Maurice Vaughn) and sometimes to Sunny Skylar. Although both the Spanish and the English versions are love songs, the lyrics are not direct translations of each other. The Spanish title translates as ‘When the sun heats (or warms) up’.”

Evil Ways

First recorded by Willie Bobo (1968).
Also recorded by The Village Callers (1968).
Hit version by Santana (US #9 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Evil Ways’ was made famous by Santana from their 1969 album, Santana. It was written by Clarence ‘Sonny’ Henry and originally recorded by Jazz percussionist Willie Bobo on his 1967 album, Bobo Motion. A year before Santana’s 1969 recording, ‘Evil Ways’ was also recorded by the band The Village Callers – considered to be one of the best bands in East Los Angeles and among the first bands with Latin percussion roots in the ‘Eastside Sound’ of the early to mid-60s – for the album The Village Callers Live, recorded May 5, 1968 at the Plush Bunny nightclub in Pico Rivera, CA. So, it could be argued that the Callers’ recording – which received heavy radio airplay in the Bay Area – was what inspired Santana to record their arrangement of the song. Released as a single in December 1969, ‘Evil Ways’ would quickly become Santana’s first Top 40 and Top 10 hit in the U.S. ”

Gypsy Queen

Written and first recorded by Gabor Szabo (1966).
Hit album version by Santana (1970).

From the wiki: “Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo (‘Breezin’‘)wrote and recorded ‘Gypsy Queen’ for his 1966 album Spellbinder. Szabo had escaped Communist Hungary in 1956 for the US, where he entered the Berklee School of Music, Boston. By 1958, Szabo had been invited to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival. Szabo incorporated elements of Folk music from his native Hungary, from Gypsy and Roma influences, into his guitar playing, and his guitar style would strongly influence Carlos Santana’s work. (Santana’s 2012 instrumental album Shape Shifter includes a song titled “Mr. Szabo”, played in tribute in the style of Szabo).

Besame Mucho

First recorded by Emilio Tuero (1941).
Hit versions by Jimmy Dorsey & His Orchestra (US #1 1944), Lucho Gatica (1953), The Coasters (US #70 1960), The Beatles (1962|1969).

From the wiki: “‘Besame Mucho’ (‘Kiss Me Much’) was written in 1940 by Mexican songwriter Consuelo Velázquez. According to Velázquez herself, she wrote this song even though she had not yet ever been kissed at the time; she’d heard kissing was considered a sin. ‘Besame Mucho’ has since become of the most famous boleros, and was recognized in 1999 as the most sung and recorded Mexican song in the world. Emilio Tuero was the first to record the song, but the Lucho Gatica recording in 1953 made the song world-famous.

Oye Como Va

Written and first recorded by Tito Puente & His Orchestra (1963).
Inspired by “Chanchullo” by Israel “Cachao” Lopez (1937).
Hit version by Santana (US #13/R&B #32 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Oye Como Va’ is a song written by Latin Jazz and Mambo musician Tito Puente in 1963. The fact that the phrase ‘Oye como va’ is the title of the song and is sung somewhat separately from the phrase ‘mi ritmo’ makes for its interpretation as ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ However, the first sentence is actually ‘Oye como va mi ritmo,’ meaning ‘Listen to how my rhythm goes.’ Israel ‘Cachao’ López’s 1937, ‘Rareza de Melitón’ (later changed to ‘Chanchullo’), inspired Tito Puente’s signature tune.

No One to Depend On

Co-written and first recorded (as “Spanish Grease”) by Willie Bobo (1965).
Hit version by Santana (US #36 1971).

From the wiki: “The main melody of ‘No One to Depend One’ is taken from Willie Bobo’s 1965 recording ‘Spanish Grease’.

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