First recorded by Richard Himber & His Ritz-Carlton Orchestra (1934).
Popular versions by Guy Lomabardo’s Royal Canadians (US #2 1934), Ted Weems & His Orchestra (US #13 1934), Johnny Mercer & The Pied Pipers (US #4 1946), Perry Como & the Satisfiers (US #10 1946), Johnny Mathis (UK #17 1958), Darlene Love (1963), Ramsey Lewis Trio (US #27 1966).
From the wiki: “‘Winter Wonderland’, a winter song, is popularly regarded as a Christmas song even though the holiday itself is never mentioned in the lyrics. It was written in 1934 by Felix Bernard (music) and Richard B. Smith (lyricist). Smith, a native of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, was reportedly inspired to write the song after seeing Honesdale’s Central Park covered in snow. Smith had written the lyrics while in the West Mountain Sanitarium, being treated for tuberculosis.
“The original recording was by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra on RCA Bluebird in 1934. At the end of a recording session with time to spare, it was suggested that this new tune be tried with an arrangement provided by the publisher. This ‘studio’ orchestra included many great New York studio musicians including the legendary Artie Shaw.
“The biggest chart hit rendition of ‘Winter Wonderland’ at the time of introduction in 1934 was performed by Guy Lombardo’s orchestra, a Top-10 hit. Singer-songwriter Johnny Mercer took the song back onto the charts, in 1946, to #4 on the Hit Parade. The same season, Perry Como hit the retail Top-10 with his recording. (Como would also record a new version for his 1959 Christmas album, Season’s Greetings.)
“Through the decades it has been recorded by over 200 different artists, among them Johnny Mathis (1958), Darlene Love (1963), and The Ramsey Lewis Trio (1966).”
Written and first recorded by Laura Nyro (1966).
Also recorded by The Blossoms (1967), The Stone Poneys (1968), Peggy Lipton (US #121 1968).
Hit version by Barbra Streisand (US #6/MOR #2/CAN #5/UK #27 1971).
From the wiki: “Laura Nyro (1947–1997) was an American songwriter, singer, and pianist. She achieved critical acclaim with her own recordings, particularly the albums Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968) and New York Tendaberry (1969), and had commercial success with artists such as Barbra Streisand and The 5th Dimension recording her songs.
“Nyro’s style was a hybrid of Brill Building-style New York pop, jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, show tunes, rock, and soul. As a child, she taught herself piano, read poetry, and listened to her mother’s records by Leontyne Price, Billie Holiday and classical composers such as Ravel and Debussy. She composed her first songs at age eight. With her family, she spent summers in the Catskill Mountains, where her father played the trumpet at resorts.
“‘Stoney End’ was first recorded by Nyro in 1966 and released in 1967 on the Verve/Folkway album More Than a New Discovery (later reissued as Laura Nyro, 1969, and as The First Songs, 1973). For the single version of ‘Stoney End,’ Nyro was forced to rework some of the lyrics that referred to the Bible, because Verve felt it would cause too much controversy.
First recorded by Vikki Carr (US #115/AUS #5 1962).
Hit version by The Crystals née The Blossoms (US #1/UK #19 1962).
From the wiki: “‘He’s a Rebel’ was written by Gene Pitney (‘Town Without Pity’, ‘Only Love Can Break a Heart’), and was originally intended for The Shirelles to record but they declined. Instead, Snuff Garrett produced the recording of ‘He’s a Rebel’ by Vikki Carr that would be released as her debut single. Phil Spector, then employed as Liberty Records’ West Coast A&R head (the same labeled where Garrett was employed), also heard the same Pitney demo being played for Carr. Instinctively knowing the song could be a big hit, Spector promptly resigned from his position at Liberty to avoid any conflict-of-interest, intending to release the song on his own Philles recorded label.
First recorded by Darlene Love (1963).
Also recorded by The Ronettes (1964).
Hit versions by The Dixie Cups (US #1 1964), Bette Midler (US #40 1973).
From the wiki: “‘Chapel of Love’ is a song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector. It was first recorded by Darlene Love in April 1963. ‘Chapel of Love’ would also be recorded by The Ronettes (for whom the song was originally intended) and included on the 1964 album Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes featuring Veronica but was not released as a single. Both sessions were produced by Phil Spector.
Originally recorded by The Cookies (1962).
Also recorded (and released first) by The Crystals (1962).
Hit versions by The Drifters (US #9/R&B #7 1963) and George Benson (US #7/R&B #2 1978).
From the wiki: “Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann were based at Aldon Music, in NYC, and the song as written by Mann-Weil was originally recorded by The Cookies (although The Crystals’ version beat them to release) and featured an upbeat lyric in which the protagonist is still on her way to Broadway and sings ‘I got to get there soon, or I’ll just die.’ For the Crystals’ recording, Phil Spector created his soon-to-be trademark cocktail of pizzicato strings, mandolins and castanets. Spector’s ‘Wall of Sound’ was inspired by, and reflects, the ‘neon lights of Broadway’. It might not even exist without ‘On Broadway’.
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