Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: The Messengers

California Soul

First recorded by The Messengers (1967).
Hit versions by The 5th Dimension (US #25/R&B #49 1969), Marlena Shaw (recorded 1969 |UK #157 2008), Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (recorded 1967 |US #56 1970), Riot Act (UK #59 2005).
Also recorded by Edwin Starr (1970), The Undisputed Truth (1971).

From the wiki: “‘California Soul’ was a pop-soul song written by Nick Ashford & Valeria Simpson and first recorded in 1967 by Motown Record’s Monkees-inspired group, The Messengers, released as the B-side of the group’s ‘Window Shopping’ single. It would also be recorded in 1967 by Motown superstars Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell – one of Tammi’s final recordings before being diagnosed with brain cancer – but would go unreleased until 1970 when it became the celebrated duo’s final single, released following Tammi’s death in March 1970, and final song to reach the Hot 100.

“‘California Soul’ first charted as a single recorded in late 1968 by The 5th Dimension. US singer Marlena Shaw covered the song the following year for her album Spice of Life. Shaw’s version originally was not released as a single in the US but did later become a staple of the UK ‘Northern Soul’ scene in the 1970s. Following its use in a TV advert in 2008, the song’s UK re-release became Shaw’s best-known recording in the UK. UK group Riot Act charted in 2005 with their recording of ‘California Soul’.

“Apart from The Messengers and Marvin Gaye & Tami Terrell, other Motown recording artists recorded covers of ‘California Soul’, including Edwin Starr, in 1970; and the Undisputed Truth, in 1971. ”

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