Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: The Monkees

Pleasant Valley Sunday

Co-written and first recorded (as a demo) by Carole King (1967).
Hit version by The Monkees (US #3/CAN #2/UK #11 1967).

From the wiki: “‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and was first recorded in 1967 as a demo by King. Goffin’s and King’s inspiration for the name was a street named Pleasant Valley Way, in West Orange, New Jersey where they were living at the time. The road follows a valley through several communities among the Watchung Mountains. The lyrics were a social commentary on status symbols, creature comforts, life in suburbia and ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.

“The Monkees’ single peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was featured in the second season of their television series. The Monkees. ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’ also appeared on the fourth Monkees album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., in November 1967. While mono copies of the album had the same version heard on the single, stereo copies had a version using a different take of the first verse and an additional backing vocal during the break.”

A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

Written and first performed (live) by Neil Diamond (1966).
Hit version by The Monkees (1967).

From the wiki: “‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You’ was written by Neil Diamond. He never made a studio recording of the song (as he had done with The Monkees’ ‘I’m a Believer‘), but he did perform ‘A Little Bit Me’ in his live shows circa late 1966.

(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone

First recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders (1965).
Also recorded by The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band (1966), The Rebounds (1966), Flies (1966), Jimi Hendrix (1969, released 1971).
Hit versions by The Monkees (US #20 1967), The Farm (UK #57 1990), P.J. & Duncan (UK #11 1996).

From the wiki: “‘(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone’ was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart (‘Last Train to Clarksville’, ‘I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight’). It was first recorded in 1965 by Paul Revere & the Raiders, and first appeared on their album Midnight Ride released in May 1966. Early covers included recordings by The W.C. Fields Memorial Electric String Band, The Rebounds, and The Flies. ‘Stepping Stone’ is best known as a hit for The Monkees (US #20). In early 1967, it became the first Monkees B-side to chart.”

Some of Shelley’s Blues

First recorded by The Monkees (1968, released 1990).
Hit version by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (US #64/CAN #56 1972).
Also recorded by The Stone Poneys (1968), Michael Nesmith (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Some of Shelley’s Blues’ was written by Michael Nesmith, of The Monkees, and first recorded by the group in 1968. The recording went unreleased until the 1990 release of Missing Links 2.”

I’m a Believer

First recorded by Neil Diamond (1966, first released 1967).
Hit versions by The Monkees (US #1/UK #1/CAN #1/AUS #1 1966), Neil Diamond (US #51/MOR #31 1971), Robert Wyatt (UK #29 1974).
Also recorded by The Fifth Estate (1967).

From the wiki: “‘I’m a Believer’ was composed by Neil Diamond who’d already recorded his own version before it was covered by The Monkees. Diamond’s original recording, produced by the songwriting team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich, was eventually released on his 1967 album Just for You. Diamond’s original recording was also released as a single in 1971, charting in the US and Australia. A revised recording, featuring additional lyrics, appeared on Diamond’s 1979 album September Morn. Diamond had also suggested the song to The Fifth Estate who did record ‘I’m a Believer’ as a 1967 follow-up to their hit single ‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’.

“‘I’m a Believer’ was the second single release for The Monkees. It hit the #1 spot on Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending December 31, 1966 and remained there for seven weeks, becoming the last #1 hit of 1966 and the biggest-selling record for all of 1967. It is one of the fewer than forty all-time singles to have sold 10 million (or more) physical copies worldwide.

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