Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Burt Bacharach

Trains, Boats and Planes

Written and first recorded by Burt Bacharach (UK #4 1965).
Other hit versions by Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas (US #47/MOR #10/UK #12 1965), Dionne Warwick (US #22 1966).

From the wiki: “‘Trains and Boats and Planes’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and first recorded in 1965. Hit versions were recorded by Bacharach himself in 1965, by Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas (also in 1965), and by Dionne Warwick in 1966. Bacharach and David wrote the song at a time when they had achieved great popular success, and Bacharach in particular was traveling widely to record and promote his songs. The pair intended the song to be recorded by Gene Pitney, who had had several hits with earlier Bacharach and David songs including ‘Only Love Can Break a Heart’. However, Pitney declined to record it, telling Bacharach ‘It’s not one of your better ones.’ Bacharach then recorded it himself, in London, with an orchestra, chorus, and uncredited vocals by female session singers The Breakaways. His version was issued on the album Hit Maker! Burt Bacharach plays the Burt Bacharach Hits in 1965, and as a UK-only single.

Make It Easy On Yourself

First commercial release (as “Are You Lonely By Yourself”) by The Isley Brothers (1962).
Hit versions by Jerry Butler (US #20/R&B #18 1962), Walker Brothers (US #16/UK #1 1965), Dionne Warwick (US #37/MOR #2/R&B #26 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Make It Easy On Yourself’, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, was first recorded for commercial release by the Isley Brothers. Much to Bacharach’s chagrin, the Brothers messed with the lyrics (turning it into ‘Are You Lonely By Yourself’) and he objected to the release of their version. (The Isley recording remained unreleased until 2001.) Instead, to fill out the time remaining of their studio session, the Isley Brothers recorded ‘Twist and Shout‘.

That’s What Friends Are For

First recorded by Rod Stewart (1982).
Hit version by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Stevie Wonder & Gladys Knight (US #1/R&B #1/UK #16/CAN #1/AUS #1 1985).

From the wiki: “‘That’s What Friends Are For’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager (‘Everchanging Times‘) and was first recorded in 1982 by Rod Stewart for the soundtrack of the film Night Shift. The Dionne Warwick cover was a one-off collaboration featuring Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder, released as a charity single in the US and UK to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Sales from the song raised over US$3 million for that cause.”

Everchanging Times

First recorded by Sideah Garrett (1987).
Hit version by Aretha Franklin feat. Michael McDonald (MOR #11/R&B #19 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Everchanging Times’ was co-written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager (‘That’s What Friends Are For‘) and first recorded by Sideah Garrett for the Baby Boom movie soundtrack.”

You’ll Never Get to Heaven (If You Break My Heart)

First recorded by Dionne Warwick (US #32/UK #20/CAN #15 1964).
Other hit version by The Stylistics (US #23/R&B #8 1973 |UK #24 1976).

From the wiki: “‘You’ll Never Get to Heaven’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and was first recorded in 1964 by Dionne Warwick for the album Make Way for Dionne Warwick (also notable for including an early production of ‘(They Long to Be) Close to You‘). In 1973, The Stylistics covered the song, reaching the Billboard Top 30 and R&B Top 10 charts in the US and the UK Top 30.”

Blowin’ in the Wind

First released by The New World Singers (January 1963).
Also released by The Chad Mitchell Trio (March 1963), Bob Dylan (May 1963), Marlene Dietrich (1963).
Hit versions by Peter, Paul & Mary (US #2/UK #13 1963), Stan Getz (US #110 1964), Stevie Wonder (US #9/R&B #1 1966).

From The Originals: “The timeline of ‘first’ recordings and releases of ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’ can sure be a more than confusing. Some sources date the New World Singers’ recording to September 1963, four months after Dylan’s was released. That is patently wrong, however. The New World Singers’ version appeared on a compilation of ‘topical songs’ called Broadside Ballads Vol. 1 which apparently was released on 1 January 1963 on Broadside Records, the recording arm of the folk magazine (you guessed it) Broadside, which was founded by Pete Seeger and printed the lyrics of the song in May 1962. The Chad Mitchell Trio, sometimes credited with recording the song first, released the song on their In Action LP in March 1963.

One Less Bell to Answer

First recorded by Keely Smith (1967).
Hit versions by Rosemary Clooney (MOR #28 1968), The 5th Dimension (US #2/MOR #1/R&B #4 1970).

From the wiki: “‘One Less Bell to Answer’ is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David (“The Look of Love“, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again“, “Alfie“), originally written for and recorded in 1967 by Keely Smith (‘I’m a Gigolo’, with Louis Prima). The song was rediscovered in late 1969 by Bones Howe, the producer for The 5th Dimension, and the song was included on the group’s 1970 debut album for Bell Records, Portrait. Rosemary Clooney had, a year earlier, in 1968, charted the song on Bilboard’s Easy Listening chart – one of the two last recordings she made before her nervous breakdown (after witnessing Robert Kennedy’s assassination).”

Baby It’s You

First recorded by The Shirelles (US #8/R&B #3 1961).
Other hit versions by Smith (US #5 1969), The Beatles (album 1963 |US #67/UK #7 1995).
Also recorded by The Carpenters (1970), Elvis Costello & Nick Lowe (1987).

From the wiki: “‘Baby It’s You’ was written by Burt Bacharach, Luther Dixon (credited as Barney Williams) and Mack David (elder brother of lyricist Hal David), and first recorded by The Shirelles in a 1961 recording session produced by Dixon. The vocal arrangements on this version proved influential in subsequent versions, including that of The Beatles who performed ‘Baby It’s You’ as part of their stage act from 1961 until 1963 before recording it on February 11, 1963 for their first album, Please Please Me. It was re-released as a CD single and a vinyl single in 1995 in both the UK and the US.

Any Day Now

First recorded (as “Lover”) by Tommy Hunt (1961).
Hit versions by (as “Any Day Now (My Wild Beautiful Bird)”) by Chuck Johnson (US #23/R&B #2 1962), Elvis Presley (B-side US #4 1969), Ronnie Milsap (US #14/C&W #1/CAN #1 1982), Luther Vandross (2001).
Also recorded by Alan Price (1965), Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (1966).

From the wiki: “‘Any Day Now’ was written by Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard in 1961. Co-writer Bacharach (‘Alfie‘,’Make It Easy On Yourself‘,’Message to Michael‘) had orchestrated and recorded the song’s backing track a year before presenting it to Chuck Jackson, formerly of the Del Vikings (‘Come Go With Me‘). In the interim, producer Luther Dixon made use of the same backing track to record the first released version of the song with Tommy Hunt (‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, The Flamingos), titled ‘Lover’, using completely different lyrics. Hunt’s recording was a commercial flop. But, parts of Hunt’s original singing are still audible at the end of Chuck Jackson’s hit version. (Hunt is the only person to have his photograph framed twice in the Apollo foyer, both with the Flamingos and as a solo artist.)

(They Long to Be) Close to You

First recorded (as “They Long to Be Close to You”) by Richard Chamberlain (1963).
Also recorded by Dionne Warwick (B-side 1964), Dusty Springfield (1964, released 1967), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1968, released 2005).
Hit version by The Carpenters (US #1/UK #6/CAN #1 1970).

From the wiki: “‘(They Long to Be) Close to You’ is a popular song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. It was first recorded by Richard Chamberlain and released as a single in 1963 as ‘They Long to Be Close to You’ (without parentheses). However, it was the single’s flip side, ‘Blue Guitar’, that became a hit.

I’ll Never Fall in Love Again

First performed by Jill O’Hara & Jerry Orbach (1968).
First charted by Johnny Mathis (MOR #35 1969).
Other hit versions by Burt Bacharach (US #98/MOR #18 1969), Bobbie Gentry (UK #1/IRE #1/NOR #5 1969), Dionne Warwick (US #6/R&B #17/MOR #1 1969), Deacon Blue (IRE #2 1990).

From the wiki: “Originally written for the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, it soon became one of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s most enduring songs. It was introduced in the musical by Jerry Orbach and Jill O’Hara, and was nominated for Song of the Year in the 1969 Grammy awards. (The soundtrack album did win the 1969 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.)

“The first recording of ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’ to reach any of the charts in Billboard was by Johnny Mathis, whose cover debuted on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart in the issue dated May 17, 1969, and reached #35 over the course of three weeks there. Bacharach’s own version, which was sung by a female chorus, overtook the Mathis release after a May 31 debut on that same chart and got as high as number 18 during its nine-week stay. It also peaked at #93 on the Hot 100 during the two weeks it spent there in July.

“Bobbie Gentry entered the UK singles chart with the song the following month, on August 30, and enjoyed one of her 19 weeks there at #1. She also peaked at #1 in Ireland. The most successful version of the song to be released as a single, however, was by Bacharach-David protégée Dionne Warwick, whose recording made its first appearance on the Hot 100 in the issue dated December 27, 1969, to start an 11-week run that took it to #6 (Warwick’s her last Top-10 solo hit until 1979).”

Message to Michael

Originally recorded (as “Message To Martha”) by Jerry Butler (1962).
Also recorded by Marlene Dietrich (1964), Lou Johnson (as “Kentucky Bluebird” US #104 1964).
Hit versions by Adam Faith (UK #12 1964), Dionne Warwick (US #8/R&B #5/CAN #6 1966).

From the wiki: “The song was first recorded as ‘Message to Martha’ by Jerry Butler in the 1962 session in New York City which produced Butler’s hit ‘Make It Easy on Yourself’ (also written by Bacharach-David), but was not released until December 1963. Marlene Dietrich recorded a German version of the song in 1964, singing to the instrumental track of the Butler original (with augmentations); Dietrich’s version was entitled ‘Kleine Treue Nachtigall’ (‘faithful little nightingale’).

(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me

First recorded (as a demo) by Dionne Warwick (1963).
Hit versions by Lou Johnson (US #49, 1964), Sandi Shaw (US #52/UK #1, 1964), Dionne Warwick B-side re-recording (US #65 1968), R.B. Greaves (US #27/MOR #3 1971) and Naked Eyes (US #8 1983).

From the wiki: “Originally recorded as a demo by Dionne Warwick in 1963, ‘(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me’ first charted for Lou Johnson whose version (with backing vocals by Doris Troy, Dee Dee Warwick, and Cissy Houston) reached #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1964. Johnson also recorded the original versions of several other Bacharach and David songs that later proved to be bigger hits for other musicians, including ‘Reach Out for Me’, and ‘Message to Michael (Kentucky Bluebird)‘.

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