Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Louis Jordan

Caldonia (What Makes Your Big Head So Hard?)

First recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #1 1945).
Other hit versions by Erskine Hawkins (US #12/R&B #2 1945), Woody Herman & His Orchestra (US #2 1945), James Brown (US #95 1964).
Also recorded by Champion Jack Dupree (1967), B.B. King (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Caldonia’ is a Jump Blues song, written by Louis Jordan (but crediting his then-wife, Fleecie Moore, for tax-evading purposes) and first recorded in 1945 by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five. The lyrics may have been inspired by a real character: a tall Crescent City drag queen wearing oversized shoes. A cover version by Erskine Hawkins (‘Tuxedo Junction‘), also in 1945, was described by Billboard magazine as ‘rock and roll’, the first time that phrase was used in print to describe any style of music. Woody Herman and his orchestra also covered ‘Caldonia’ in 1945, arranged by the young Neal Hefti, with Herman singing the lead vocal. Jordan re-recorded the song in 1956, arranged by Quincy Jones and featuring torrid guitar work by Mickey Baker. Baker again recorded the song, in 1967, this time backing up Champion Jack Dupree.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

First performed by Esther Williams & Ricardo Montalban and Red Skelton & Betty Garrett (Neptune’s Daughter, 1949).
Hit versions by Dinah Shore & Buddy Clark (US #4 1949), Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer (US #4 1949), Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan (US #9 1949), Dean Martin (1959) and Blossom Dearie & Bob Dorough (1979), Dean Martin & Martina McBride (MOR #7/C&W 36 2006).

From the wiki: “Frank Loesser wrote the duet in 1944 and premiered the song with his wife, Lynn Garland, at their Navarro Hotel housewarming party, and performed it toward the end of the evening, signifying to guests that it was nearly time to end the party. Lynn considered it ‘their song’ and was furious when Loesser sold the song to MGM. The movie it appeared in, Neptune’s Daughter, featured two performances of the song: one by Ricardo Montalb├ín and Esther Williams, and the other by Red Skelton and Betty Garrett, the second of which has the roles of ‘wolf and mouse’ reversed. These performances earned Loesser an Academy Award for Best Original Song.”

Saturday Night Fish Fry

First recorded by Eddie Williams & His Brown Buddies (1949).
Hit version by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (US #21/R&B #1 1949).

From the wiki: “‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ was written by Ellis Walsh and adapted by Louis Jordan (who received co-writing credit), and first recorded in 1949 by Eddie Williams & His Brown Buddies featuring the talk-singing vocals of Walsh. The act had recently had a hit with ‘Broken Hearted’; ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ was intended to be the Williams’ band’s followup. However, the acetate for the William/Walsh recording found its way to Louis Jordan’s agent and, as Williams later recalled, ‘They got theirs out there first.’

“Jordan reconfigured the song, taking the song’s ‘hook’ and signing it twice after every other verse. The arrangement was also more propulsive, too; Williams’ shuffle was replaced by a raucous, rowdy jump Boogie-woogie. ‘Saturday Night Fish Fry’ has been called one of the first Rock ‘n roll records. No less than Chuck Berry has said ‘Louis Jordan was the first one that I hear play rock and roll.'”

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