Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Four Tops

If I Were a Carpenter

Written and first released by Tim Hardin (1966).
Hit versions by Bobby Darin (US #8/UK #9 1966), The Four Tops (US #20/R&B #17/UK #7 1968), Johnny Cash & June Carter (US #36/C&W #2 1970).

From the wiki: “‘If I Were a Carpenter’ was written by Tim Hardin (‘Reason to Believe‘), and first released by him in 1966 as the B-side to ‘How Can We Hang On to a Dream’. The recording would see a subsequent release in 1967 on the album Hardin 2. According to Mojo magazine (February 2012), the song was partly inspired by engineer John Judnich, who built for Hardin a small recording setup in Lenny Bruce’s Sunset Plaza house.

“Hardin and Bobby Darin attended each others recording session at the studio and swapped songs, with Hardin recording Darin’s ‘Simple Song Of Freedom’ that became Hardin’s only charting recording (US #47 1969). Darin’s Top-10 recording of ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ used the same arrangement and instrumentation as Hardin’s original.

I Believe in You and Me

First recorded by The Four Tops (R&B #40 1982).
Also recorded by Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (1983), David Peaston (1991).
Hit version by Whitney Houston (US #4/R&B #4/UK #16 1996).

From the wiki: “‘I Believe in You and Me’ is a ballad written in 1982 by Sandy Linzer and David Wolfert, and first recorded and released by The Four Tops in 1982. In 1983, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. (formerly of The 5th Dimension) recorded the first cover of the song for their album Solid Gold. David Peaston would win the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist in 1991 for his recording.

It’s All in the Game

First recorded by Tommy Edwards (US #18/R&B #1 1951).
Also recorded by Louis Armstrong (1953), Nat “King” Cole (1956).
Other hit versions by Tommy Edwards (re-recording US #1/UK #1 1958), Cliff Richard (US #25/UK #2 1963), The Four Tops (US #24/R&B #6/UK #5 1970).

From the wiki: “‘It’s All in the Game’ is the only #1 hit ever written by a future US Vice-President. The melody was first composed in 1911 by then-banker Charles Gates Dawes, who would become VP in 1925 under Calvin Coolidge. The song garnered some popularity in the 1920s when Jascha Heifetz used it for a time as a ‘light concert’ encore. Lyrics were added in 1951 by the Brill Building songwriter Carl Sigman, who also changed the song’s name to ‘It’s All in the Game’ from its original ‘Dawes Melody in A Major’. Sadly, Dawes would not live to hear lyrics put to his song. He passed away the same day Sigman completed his assignment.

Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)

First recorded by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds (1972).
Hit version by The Four Tops (US #4/R&B #2 1973).

From the wiki: “‘Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got)’ was written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter who first joined Talent Associates in 1970 as producers and songwriters, and were responsible for many of that label’s hits, including Original Caste’s ‘One Tin Soldier‘, and hits by Seals & Crofts. After leaving Talent Associates for ABC-Dunhill, Lambert and Potter wrote for Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds (‘Don’t Pull Your Love’) or produced several of ABC’s hits including Glen Campbell’s ‘Rhinestone Cowboy‘ in 1975. The Lambert-Potter-composed ‘Ain’t No Woman’ was first recorded in 1972 by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds and released on their album, Hallway Symphony.

For Once in My Life

First recorded (as a demo) in 1965 and first released by Jean Dushon (Oct 1966).
Also recorded by Barbara McNair (released Nov 1966), The Four Tops (1967), The Temptations (1967).
Hit versions by Tony Bennett (US #91/EZ #8 1967), Stevie Wonder (US #2/R&B #2 1968).

From the wiki: “‘For Once in My Life’, written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden, was originally recorded by Jean DuShon, tapped by Miller to demo ‘For Once in My Life’ as he was ‘fine-tuning’ the composition. Miller was so impressed by DuShon’s rendition he released her recording as a single on Chess Records’ Cadet label early in 1966. Motown CEO Berry Gordy found out that Miller, a Motown staff writer, had given the song to an outside artist, so had Miller immediately make the song available for Motown artist Barbara McNair to record and, later, for The Four Tops, The Temptations and, then, Stevie Wonder to record.

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