Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Clash

Junco Partner

Written and first recorded by James “Wee Willie” Wayne (1951).
Also recorded by Professor Longhair (1951), Louis Jordan (1952), Holy Modal Rounders (1964).
Popular versions by Richard Hayes (US #15 1952), Dr. John (1972), The Clash (1980).

From The Originals: “It’s almost a miracle we actually know this is a James Wayne song, for he was locked away in a madhouse for arson. All the while his royalties went in someone else’s pockets, not to mention the shrewd and obscure labelboss Bob Shad, who signed for as many of Wayne’s compositions he could lay hands on. Here’s poor James in his mental institution claiming authorship to anyone he bumps in to.

I Fought the Law

Written by Sonny Curtis and first recorded by The Crickets (1959).
First covered by Paul Stefan & the Royal Lancers (1962), Bobby Fuller (1964).
Hit versions by The Bobby Fuller Four (US #9/UK #33/CAN #11 1965), The Clash (UK #29 1988).

From the wiki: “Sonny Curtis (‘More Than I Can Say‘) joined The Crickets as lead vocalist and guitarist after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959. The Crickets recorded Curtis’ ‘I Fought the Law’ shortly after Buddy Holly’s death in 1959 and released it on their 1960 album In Style With The Crickets. (Had Holly had lived, there’s a good chance it would have been a huge hit for him with The Crickets.) Instead, Bobby Fuller, in 1964, had a regional hit with the song on Exeter Records in New Mexico and West Texas – his biggest local hit. In 1965, Fuller re-recorded by song (using the same group of musicians) for Del-Fi Records label and, with national promotion support, reached #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Police on My Back

Written (by Eddy Grant) and first recorded by The Equals (1967).
Hit album version by The Clash (1980).

From the wiki: “”‘Police on My Back’ was written by Eddy Grant when he was leader of The Equals, a British group who fused rock, reggae, and soul rhythms; the band’s sole international hit was the admirably eccentric groover ‘Baby Come Back’. But, The Clash picked up on one of the group’s minor British hits, ‘Police on My Back’, while recording their fourth album, the sprawling three-LP set Sandanista!. While the Equals’ original version has a clear if muted reggae undertow, the song became a hard-charging, high-velocity Rock & roll onslaught when recorded by The Clash.

“‘Police on My Back’ was a rare example of The Clash tackling a reggae tune and, rather than trying to fuse its Caribbean rhythms with the band’s muscular approach, instead stripping the tune to its bones and tackling it as straight Rock & roll.”

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