Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Al Kooper

I Am a Rock

Written and first recorded by Paul Simon (1965).
Hit version by Simon & Garfunkel (US #3/UK #17 1966).

From the wiki: “‘I Am a Rock’ was written by Paul Simon, and first recorded by Simon solo as the opening track on his album The Paul Simon Songbook which he originally recorded and released as a solo performance in August 1965 but only in the United Kingdom. Later that year, Simon and Art Garfunkel, as the American pop/folk duo Simon & Garfunkel, re-recorded the song on December 14, 1965, and included it as the final track on their album Sounds of Silence. ‘I Am a Rock’ became the duo’s third Top 5 hit in the US when released as a single in May 1966.”

Behind Blues Eyes

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Pete Townshend (1971).
Hit versions by The Who (US #34 1971), Limp Bizkit (US #71/UK #18/AUS #4/SPN #1 2003).

From the wiki: “‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was originally written by Pete Townshend for his aborted Lifehouse project. The song is sung from the point of view of the main villain of Lifehouse, Jumbo. The lyrics are a first-person lament from Jumbo, who is always angry and full of angst because of all the pressure and temptation that surrounds him, and the song was intended to be his ‘theme song’ had the project been completed.

“The version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ on the original Who’s Next album was the second version the band recorded; the first was recorded at the Record Plant in New York on 18 March 1971 and features Al Kooper on Hammond organ. It would not be released until 1995, as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Who’s Next. The released album version of ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ was recorded 8 July 1971 at Olympic Studios in London.”

One

Written and first recorded by Nilsson (1967).
Also recorded by Al Kooper (1968).
Hit versions by Three Dog Night (US #5/CAN #4 1969), Johnny Farnham (AUS #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘One’ was written by Harry Nilsson and recorded in 1967. It appeared initially on Nilsson’s third album, Aerial Ballet, released in 1968. Nilsson wrote the song after calling someone and getting a busy signal. He stayed on the line listening to the ‘beep, beep, beep, beep…’ tone, writing the song. The busy signal was expressed musically to become the opening notes of the song.

This Diamond Ring

First recorded (as a demo) by Jimmy Radcliffe (1964).
First released by Sammy Ambrose (US #65 1965).
Hit version by Gary Lewis & The Playboys (US #1 1965).
Also recorded by Al Kooper (1976).

From the wiki: “‘This Diamond Ring’ was written by Al Kooper, Bob Brass, and Irwin Levine in 1964. The song was first recorded as a demo that year by Jimmy Radcliffe in a session produced by Kooper.

“In 1965, Sammy Ambrose recorded ‘This Diamond Ring’ as the first commercial release of the song. Ambrose, a Miami-born singer, had begun his recording career fronting the Afro-Beats (which included members of Betty Wright’s family). But, the song was also covered very shortly thereafter by Gary Lewis & The Playboys. Lewis’s version charted first, #101 on the January 2, 1965; both versions – Ambrose’s and Lewis’ – were together on the Billboard Hot 100 the following week; Ambrose’s recording stalled at #65 while Lewis’ version continued advancing to #1, making it to the top-of-the-chart on February 20.

“None of the Playboys played their instruments on the hit recording and Lewis’s vocals were heavily supported by Ron Hicklin’s overdubs. The music was performed by members of The Wrecking Crew, including Hal Blaine (drums), Carol Kaye (bass) and Leon Russell (keyboard).

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