Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Nilsson

Only You (And You Alone)

First recorded by The Platters (1954).
Hit versions by The Hilltoppers (US#8/UK #3 1955), The Platters (US #5/R&B #1 1955 |UK #18 1957), Ringo Starr (US #6/MOR #1/UK #28 1975), Reba McEntire (C&W #13 1982).

From the wiki: “‘Only You (And You Alone)’ (often shortened to ‘Only You’) was composed by Buck Ram. The first recording of the song by The Platters, for Federal Records, turned out poorly in 1954. But, after a re-recording the song scored a major hit when it was re-released in 1955. Platters bass singer Herb Reed later recalled how the group hit upon its successful version: ‘We tried it so many times, and it was terrible. One time we were rehearsing in the car … and the car jerked. Tony went ‘O-oHHHH-nly you.’ We laughed at first, but when he sang that song—that was the sign we had hit on something.’ ‘Only You’ was the only Platter’s recording on which songwriter and Platter’s manager Ram played the piano. The Platters’ re-release beat out a rival cover version by The Hilltoppers (‘Marianne‘).

Without Her

Written and first recorded by Harry Nilsson (1967).
Hit album version by Blood, Sweat & Tears (1968).
Also recorded by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (1969).

From the wiki: “‘Without Her’ was written by Harry Nilsson (‘Everybody’s Talkin’‘, ‘Without You‘) and appeared on his second album (his first for RCA Victor), Pandemonium Shadow Show, in 1967. The album proved to be the watershed of his career, attracting the attention of publicist Derek Taylor, who ordered a case of albums, sending them out to various industry people he believed would be interested, and The Beatles who invited Nilsson to London. (Nilsson covered ‘You Can’t Do That’ in an arrangement that quoted lyrics from more than 10 other Beatles songs. It became a Top 10 hit in Canada.)

“‘Without Her’ would be revamped for Nilsson’s 1971 ‘best-of’ album Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, one of the first ‘remix’ albums ever produced.

One

Written and first recorded by Nilsson (1967).
Also recorded by Al Kooper (1968).
Hit versions by Three Dog Night (US #5/CAN #4 1969), Johnny Farnham (AUS #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘One’ was written by Harry Nilsson and recorded in 1967. It appeared initially on Nilsson’s third album, Aerial Ballet, released in 1968. Nilsson wrote the song after calling someone and getting a busy signal. He stayed on the line listening to the ‘beep, beep, beep, beep…’ tone, writing the song. The busy signal was expressed musically to become the opening notes of the song.

Everybody’s Talkin’

Written and originally recorded by Fred Neil (1966).
Hit version by Nilsson (US #6/MOR #2/UK #23/CAN #1 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Everybody’s Talkin” was originally written and released by Fred Neil in 1966. The song describes the singer’s desire to retreat from other people to the ocean. It was composed towards the end of the session, after Neil had become anxious to wrap the album so he could return to his home in Miami, Florida … a retreat to the ocean, as it were, and Neil’s other ‘work’ with The Dolphin Project. Manager Herb Cohen promised that if Neil wrote and recorded one final track, he could go. ‘Everybody’s Talkin” was the result – and it was recorded in one take!

Without You

Written and originally recorded by Badfinger (1970).
Hit versions by Nilsson (US#1/UK #1 1971) and Mariah Carey (US #3/UK #1 1994).

From the wiki: “Paul McCartney once described the ballad as ‘…the killer song of all time.’

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