Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Shop Around

First recorded by The Miracles (first recording released September 1960).
Hit versions by The Miracles (re-recording released October 1960 US #2/R&B #1/CAN #11), Captain & Tennille (US #4/MOR #1/CAN #4 1976).

From the wiki: “The original record label for ‘Shop Around’ credits Bill ‘Smokey’ Robinson as the writer, with Motown founder Berry Gordy as producer. Robinson claims he wrote the song ‘in thirty minutes’ and that it had been intended originally for another Motown singer, Barrett Strong (‘Money (That’s What I Want)‘), but that Gordy thought the song was more suited to the Miracles. Subsequent labels list both Robinson and Gordy as co-writers.

“‘Shop Around’ was initially released (as Tamla 53034) locally, in Detroit and the surrounding area, but not intentionally. Motown’s history of the song relates that after the first pressings were distributed to radio stations and record stores ‘in September 1960, [Gordy] couldn’t sleep, worried that it wasn’t good enough (‘too slow, not enough life’). He called Smokey in the middle of the night, and had him bring all the Miracles to the studio at 3 a.m. to lay down a new, slightly faster take of the song. Gordy himself played piano.’

“The new version was released (as Tamla 54034) in October 1960 and quickly became the Miracles’ biggest hit up to that point in their career (a 1959 single, ‘Bad Girl’, had been their previous highest-peaking song – #93 on the Billboard Hot 100), becoming the group’s first #1 hit on the R&B singles chart, spending eight consecutive weeks at the top, and also hitting #2 on the pop Hot 100 (behind ‘Calcutta’ by Lawrence Welk). ‘Shop Around’ would go on to become Motown’s first million-selling record, and it was the first Motown record to be released in the UK, on Decca Records’ London label, but went uncharted. The Miracles’ ‘Shop Around’ would go on to become feted as one of the 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and would anchor the list (as #500) of Rolling Stone magazine’s The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

“In 1976, the American pop music duo Captain & Tennille recorded their version of ‘Shop Around’ for their second studio album, Song of Joy, issued on A&M Records. Toni Tennille changed the lyrics slightly so that they were sung from a woman’s perspective. Released as the second single of the album (after ‘Lonely Night (Angle Face)‘), their version of ‘Shop Around’ peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and at #1 on the magazine’s MOR chart. In Canada, ‘Shop Around’ peaked at #4 on the RPM Singles chart.”

“Shop Around”, The Miracles (re-recording 1960):

“Shop Around”, Captain & Tennille (1976):

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