Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Shirley Bassey

Almost Like Being in Love

First performed and recorded by David Brooks & Marion Bell (1947).
Hit versions by Mildred Bailey (US #21 1947), Mary Martin (US #21 1947), Frank Sinatra (US #20 1947), Gene Kelly, (1954), Michael Johnson (US #32/MOR #4 1978).
Also recorded by Lester Young (1952), Nat “King” Cole (1953), Frank Sinatra (1961), Shirley Bassey (1979).

From the wiki: “‘Almost Like Being in Love’ was written by the songwriting team of Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner in 1947, for the musical Brigadoon. The song was first performed on Broadway and recorded by David Brooks and Marion Bell from the original cast. It would later be performed by Gene Kelly in the 1954 film version of Brigadoon.

“Mildred Bailey first charted ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ in 1947, along with an equally-popular cover by Mary Martin. Frank Sinatra recorded two popular versions: first in 1947 and, again, in 1961 for the album Come Swing With Me, the version generally heard today. Lester Young’s instrumental cover was released in 1952; Nat ‘King’ Cole recorded his version in 1953, a recording used years later, in 1993, for the soundtrack of Groundhog Day.

“‘Almost Like Being in Love’ was revived, as a downbeat ballad, in 1978 by singer Michael Johnson. British singing sensation Shirley Bassey covered Johnson’s arrangement in 1979.”

What Kind of Fool Am I?

First recorded by Anthony Newley (1961).
Also recorded by Tony Bennett (1962), James Brown (1970).
Hit versions by Sammy Davis, Jr. (US #17/MOR #6 1962), Shirley Bassey (UK #47 1963).

From the wiki: “”What Kind of Fool Am I?” is a popular song written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley and published in 1962. It was introduced by Anthony Newley in the musical Stop The World – I Want To Get Off. Bricusse and Newley received the 1961 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

“This song was recorded while Newley was on the road with the touring company of ‘Stop the World …’ in the United States, after its hugely successful run in the United Kingdom. By the time the cast reached New York, Tony Bennett had re-recorded the song*. The song was a hit for Sammy Davis Jr. in the year of its publication, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at #6 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart. It also won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, with songwriters Bricusse and Newley becoming the first Britons to do so. In 1963 Shirley Bassey released the song as a Columbia Record single and her version reached #47 on the UK charts.

“James Brown covered ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’ for his 1970 album, Soul on Top.

“The song was also the inspiration for a Gary Larson cartoon (see below).

* “Publisher Harold Richmond related an amusing story about Bennett and ‘What Kind of Food Am I?’:

‘When I was in England to see Oliver! and I heard ‘What Kind of Fool Am I?’, Tony was my first choice for the song. (Sammy Davis, Jr. found the song by himself.) Tony had had ‘San Francisco’ out for six or eight weeks and he said, ‘Howie, I’m going to stick with ‘San Francisco’ for a while. I like ‘What Kind of Fool’ but –.’ I said to him, ‘Tony! ‘San Francisco’ has been out a couple of months and nothing’s happening with it!’ Tony said, ‘Well, I’m still going to stick with it for a while.’ Well, we all know how that turned out.'”

Billboard magazine, Nov. 30, 1968

What Now My Love

First recorded by Jane Morgan (1961).
Hit versions by Shirley Bassey (UK #5 1962), Sonny & Cher (US #14/UK #12 1966), Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass (US #24/MOR #2 1966), Mitch Ryder (US #30 1967).
Also performed by Elvis Presley (1973).

From the wiki: “‘What Now, My Love?’ is the English title of a popular song whose original French version, ‘Et maintenant’ (English: ‘And Now’) was written in 1961 by composer Gilbert Bécaud (co-writer, ‘September Morn‘) and lyricist Pierre Delanoë. Bécaud’s original version of this song topped French chart in 1961. English lyrics and the title were written by Carl Sigman, and were first recorded in 1961 by Jane Morgan. The English-language covers use the melody of Bécaud but with a different lyrical imagery (e.g., ‘there’s the sky where the sea should be’), which are different from the more deeply dark French original.

“English-language arrangements of ‘What Now My Love’ charted in the UK (Shirley Bassey, 1962; her recording spent 4 months on the UK Singles chart), and the US (Sonny & Cher, 1966; Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, 1966; Mitch Ryder, 1967).

“Elvis Presley performed the song before an audience of an estimated 1 billion people, as part of his Aloha from Hawaii live broadcast in 1973 beamed to 43 countries via INTELSAT.”

Till

First recorded by The Percy Faith Orchestra (US #63 1957).
Other hit versions by Roger Williams (US #22 1957), Tony Bennett (UK #38 1961), The Angels (US #14 1961), The Vogues (US #27 1969), Tom Jones (UK #2 1971).

From the wiki: “Since there are many songs with ‘Till’ in the title, let it be clear that this is the one that starts: ‘Till the moon deserts the sky’, with music by Charles Danvers and English lyrics by Carl Sigman, and adapted from the French song ‘Prière Sans Espoir’ recorded in 1956. The Percy Faith Orchestra (with chorus) charted first, in April 1957. Later the same year, Roger Williams released a similarly mostly-instrumental recording that reached into the US Top 40. In 1961, Shirley Bassey and Tony Bennett each recorded all-vocal covers of ‘Till’, with Bennett’s version reaching #38 on the UK Single chart. Girl-group The Angels originated in New Jersey as The Starlets. After a failed attempt at record deal, producer Gerry Granahan (‘Ne-Ne Na-Na Na-Na Nu-Nu‘) heard some hit potential with a song The Starlets had performed for him in their audition, ‘Till’. ‘Till’ became the group’s first single under their new name, The Angels, and also their first hit (US #14) released by Granahan’s Caprice label in 1961.

Something

Written and first recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1969, released 1996).
First commercial recording by Joe Cocker (1969).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969), Shirley Bassey (US #55/UK #4 1970), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #6 1974)
Also recorded by Ray Charles (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Something’ was the first Beatles song written by lead guitarist George Harrison to appear as an A-side single, and the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was in the band. Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as ‘Something’ during the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (aka The White Album). Harrison recorded the demo of ‘Something’ on February 25, 1969, his 26th birthday.

“Producer Glyn Jones, who engineered the Beatles’ Get Back sessions, recalls ‘One morning before the others arrived at the studio, George asked me if I would stay behind at the end of the day to cut a demo with him of a song he had written, as he didn’t want to play it in front of the others. So we waited for everyone to leave and he went out into the empty studio and played ‘Something in the Way She Moves’, which might just be the greatest song he ever wrote. He came into the control room, and after having it played back to him, he asked what I thought of it, as he seemed unsure. I told him it was brilliant and that he must play it to the others. I can only assume that his confidence had been dented as a result of living in the shadow of John and Paul.’ [Source: Sound Man, by Glyn Jones, 2014]

“Harrison’s original intention had been to offer the song to Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax as he had done with a previous composition, ‘Sour Milk Sea’. When this fell through, ‘Something’ was instead given to Joe Cocker to record. Cocker completed his recording at A&M Studios in Los Angeles before The Beatles completed their recording in August 1969 at Abbey Road, but Cocker’s recording was not released (on Joe Cocker!, his second album, on which also appeared another Beatles composition, ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window’) until November 1969 – six weeks after the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

For All We Know

Originally recorded by Larry Meredith (1970).
Hit versions by Shirley Bassey (UK #6 1971) and The Carpenters (US #3/MOR #1/UK #18/CAN #7 1971).

From the wiki: “‘For All We Know’ is a popular song written by Fred Karlin, Robb Wilson (Robb Royer) and Arthur James (Jimmy Griffin) for the 1970 film Lovers and Other Strangers, and for which it won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Original Song. It was originally performed by Larry Meredith for the movie soundtrack. Two of the songwriters, Royer and Griffin, were co-founders of the band Bread with David Gates.

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