Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Bob Crewe

Music to Watch Girls Go By

Co-written and first recorded by Sid Ramin (1965).
Hit versions by The Bob Crewe Generation (US #15/MOR #2 1966), Andy Williams (US #34/UK #33 1967 |UK#9 1999), Al Hirt (US #119/MOR #31 1967).
Also recorded (as “Music to Watch Space Girls Go By”) by Leonard Nimoy (1967).

From the wiki: “‘Music to Watch Girls Go By’ was composed by Tony Velona and Sidney ‘Sid’ Ramin, and was first recorded as a commercial jingle demo for Diet Pepsi, where producer Bob Crewe first heard the song. Crewe, using his own name, then recorded the song under his nom de plume ‘The Bob Crewe Generation’. Crewe’s ‘big-band, horn driven’ recording went to #15 on the Pop chart and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.

“A vocal recording by Andy Williams, featuring lyrics by original co-writer Velona, went to #34 in the United States and #33 in the UK but, after it was used in a Fiat ad in the UK in 1999, the re-released single reached the UK Top-10. The version by Al Hirt in 1967 reached #31 on the MOR chart and bubbled-under the Billboard Hot 100. In 1967, an instrumental version, renamed ‘Music to Watch Space Girls By’, appeared on Leonard Nimoy’s debut album Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music from Outer Space.”

Silhouettes

First recorded by The Rays (US #3/R&B #3 1957).
Other hit versions by The Diamonds (US #10/R&B #6 1957), Herman’s Hermits (US #5/UK #3 1965), Cliff Richard (UK #10 1990).
Also recorded by Frankie Lymon (1960), Bob Crewe (1961), Paul Anka (1961), The Four Seasons (1964), The Nylons (1982).

From the wiki: “In May 1957, songwriter-producer Bob Crewe (‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)‘, ‘Lady Marmalade‘, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Silence is Golden‘) saw a couple embracing through a window shade as he passed-by on a train. He quickly set about turning the image into a song. Frank Slay, who owned the small Philadelphia record label XYZ with Crewe, added lyrics, and they soon had a complete song ready to record.

“The Rays’ original recording received a break when popular Philadelphia disc-jockey Hy Lit fell asleep at home listening to a stack of newly-released records on his record player. ‘Silhouettes’ happened to be the last record to play, and so it repeated until he woke up. Lit began to playing the song on his show and it became popular enough that Cameo-Parkway picked it up for national distribution. The Rays’ ‘Silhouettes’ eventually reached #3 on Billboard Hot 100, while also hitting the Top-5 on both the sales and airplay charts. It became the group’s only Top 40 hit.

The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)

First recorded by Frankie Valli (1965).
Hit versions by The Walker Brothers (US #13/UK #1/GER #4 1966), Cher (UK #26 1996).
Also recorded by The Fuzzy Bunnies (US #115 1968), Keane (2004).

From the wiki: “‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, written by Bob Crewe (‘Silence is Golden‘, ‘Silhouettes‘, ‘Lady Marmalade‘) and Bob Gaudio (‘Sherry’, ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’), was originally recorded in 1965 by Frankie Valli for his 1966 solo album Frankie Valli: Solo. Although it was recorded at a Four Seasons recording session (with the other group members at that time), it was Valli’s first official ‘solo’ single in almost a decade. (He had previously recorded as ‘Frankie Valley’ and ‘Frankie Tyler’.) Valli’s version, however, failed to chart in the Billboard Hot 100.

See You in September

Originally recorded by The Tempos (US #23 1959).
Also recorded by The Quotations (1962), The Chiffons (1963), Teddy Robin & The Playboys (1966).
Other hit versions by The Symbols (UK #19 1966), The Happenings (US #3 1966), The Mike Curb Congregation (MOR #15 1972).

From the wiki: “‘See You in September’ was first recorded by the Pittsburgh vocal trio The Tempos (whose members included a pre-‘Rose Are Red’ Bobby Vinton). This first version peaked at #23 in the summer of 1959. The most popular version of ‘See You in September’ was the version by The Happenings in 1966, when it reached #3.

Lady Marmalade

First recorded by Eleventh Hour (1974).
Hit version by LaBelle (US #1/UK #17/CAN #1 1974).
Also recorded by Max Raabe (2002).

From the wiki: “‘Lady Marmalade’ is a song written by Bob Crewe (‘Silhouettes‘, ‘Silence is Golden‘, ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore‘, ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’) and Kenny Nolan (‘My Eyes Adored You’, ‘I Like Dreamin”), inspired by Crewe’s first-hand observations of New Orleans. After it was first recorded by Nolan’s group Eleventh Hour in 1974, on Eleventh Hour’s Greatest Hits LP, Labelle’s producer Allen Toussaint decided to record it for LaBelle’s Nightbirds album. Patti LaBelle sang lead vocals on ‘Lady Marmalade’ with backing vocalscontributed by band mates Nona Hendryx and Sarah Dash.

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