Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Boney M.

Rivers of Babylon

Written and first recorded by The Melodians (JAM #1 1970).
Other hit version by Boney M. (US #30/UK #1/CAN #9/AUS #1/IRE #1/GER #1 1978).

From the wiki: “The Melodians’ original version of the song appeared in the soundtrack album of the 1972 movie The Harder They Come, making it internationally known. The lyrics are adapted from the texts of psalm 137 and psalm 19 in the Bible: ‘By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion… ‘

Sunny

First released by Mieko Hirota (1965).
Also recorded by Dave Pike (1966), Chris Montez (1966), Marvin Gaye (1966).
Hit versions by Bobby Hebb (US #2/R&B #3/UK #12 1966), Boney M. (UK #3/NETH #1/GER #1 1976).

From the wiki: “Bobby Hebb’s breakthrough as a songwriter would be born of tragedy. In November 1963, already upset over the JFK assassination, Bobby then learned that his older brother, Harold, had been stabbed to death the same night in a fight outside a Nashville nightclub. Out of his depression, Hebb began to write. Using past hurts (‘Yesterday my life was filled with rain’) and inspired by the anonymous smile of a complete stranger (‘You smiled and it really, really eased the pain’), ‘Sunny’ came into being.

“The upbeat number was included in Hebb’s nightclub act at his gig at the New York club Brandy’s. The audiences responded positively as did record producer Jerry Ross (‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me‘), who included the song on a demo record that found its way to Japan.

“That was how ‘Sunny’ came about to be first recorded and commercially-released in Japan, by Mieko ‘Miko’ Hirota – the ‘Connie Francis of Japan’ – where it was said to have done well on the charts.

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