Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: LaBelle

Take Me For a Little While

First recorded by Evie Sands (1965).
Also recorded by Jackie Ross (1965).
Hit versions by Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles (US #89/R&B #36 1966), Vanilla Fudge (US #38 1968).

From the wiki: “In 1965, Evie Sands began her lasting collaboration with the producer/composers Chip Taylor (‘Wild Thing‘, ‘Angel of the Morning‘) and Al Gorgoni with the release of the single ‘Take Me For a Little While’ (written by Trade Martin). But, prior to its release, a test pressing of Sands’ recording was stolen by a Chicago-based producer, shopping it to established Chess Records recording artist Jackie Ross who was coming off the major Pop-Soul hit ‘Selfish One’. Ross – who was unaware of the duplicity involved, and who left Chess shortly afterwards – and her producers loved the song, and recorded, pressed and released the record within 48 hours, beating Sands’ version to the street by a week. The ensuing battle between the two versions killed whatever chance either had to chart nationwide, and the subsequent legal struggle set-back Sands’ career before it had had a chance to get started.

“Sands’ follow-up single, ‘I Can’t Let Go‘, was lost amidst the post ‘Take Me’ chaos, leaving Brit invaders The Hollies clear to score a hit cover in the spring of 1966.

(Somewhere) Over the Rainbow

First released by The Larry Clinton Orchestra & Bea Wain (US #10 1939).
Other hit versions by The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1939), Judy Garland (US #5 1939), Bob Crosby & His Orchestra (US #2 1939), The Demensions (US #16 1960), Patti LaBelle & The Bluebells (R&B #20 1966), Eva Cassidy (UK #42 2001), Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (US #22 2002).

From the wiki: “‘Over the Rainbow’ (often referred to as ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’) is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad, with music by Harold Arlen (‘Stormy Weather‘, ‘Blues in the Night‘) and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg. Arlen came up with the melody while sitting in his car in front of the original Schwab’s Drug Store in Hollywood. Harburg hated it at first because he thought the tempo was too slow. After Arlen consulted with his friend, Ira Gershwin, he sped up the tempo and Harburg came up with the lyrics. A lot of effort went into the first line. Ideas that didn’t make the cut included ‘I’ll go over the rainbow’ and ‘Someday over the rainbow’.

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.

It’s Gonna Take a Miracle

Originally recorded by The Royalettes (US #41/R&B #28 1965).
Other hit version by Deniece Williams (US #10/R&B #1 1982).
Also recorded by Laura Nyro & LaBelle (1971).

From the wiki: ‘It’s Gonna Take a Miracle’ is a popular song written by Teddy Randazzo (‘Goin’ Out of My Head’, ‘Hurts So Bad’), Bob Weinstein, and Lou Stallman. It was first an R&B hit in 1965 for The Royalettes, who reached the Top-30 on the U.S. R&B chart with the song and also peaked at #41 on the U.S. pop chart. In 1971, Laura Nyro recorded the song for her album, Gonna Take a Miracle, with background vocals performed by LaBelle.

“The most successful version of the song was the 1982 remake by R&B and gospel artist Deniece Williams. Her version went to #1 on the R&B chart for two weeks and also peaked at #10 on the Hot 100.”

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