Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Temptations

The Motown Song

Written and first recorded by Larry John McNally (1986).
Hit version by Rod Stewart ft. The Temptations (US #10/MOR #3/UK #10 1991).

From the wiki: “‘The Motown Song’ was written by Larry John McNally and was originally recorded by McNally in 1986 for the Quicksilver movie soundtrack. In 1991, Rod Stewart covered ‘The Motown Song’ with The Temptations, for Stewart’s album Vagabond Heart.”

Smiling Faces Sometimes

Originally recorded by The Temptations (1971).
Hit version by The Undisputed Truth (US #3 1971)
Also recorded by Bobbi Humphrey (1972), Rare Earth (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Smiling Faces Sometimes’ was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and was originally recorded by the Temptations in 1971. Producer Whitfield had the song re-recorded by the Undisputed Truth the same year, resulting in a Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit for the group – their only one.


First recorded by The Temptations (1969, released 1970).
Hit version by Edwin Starr (US #1/UK #3/CAN #1/GER #9 1970).

From the wiki: “‘War’ is a counterculture era soul song written by the songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong (‘Smiling Faces Sometimes‘, ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘, ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone‘), and produced by Whitfield, for the Motown label in 1969. Whitfield first produced the song – a blatant anti-Vietnam War protest – with The Temptations as the original vocalists. Whitfield re-recorded the song with Edwin Starr as the vocalist, with the label deciding to withhold The Temptations’ version from single release so as not to alienate their more conservative fans.

For Once in My Life

First recorded (as a demo) in 1965 and first released by Jean Dushon (Oct 1966).
Also recorded by Barbara McNair (released Nov 1966), The Four Tops (1967), The Temptations (1967).
Hit versions by Tony Bennett (US #91/EZ #8 1967), Stevie Wonder (US #2/R&B #2 1968).

From the wiki: “‘For Once in My Life’, written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden, was originally recorded by Jean DuShon, tapped by Miller to demo ‘For Once in My Life’ as he was ‘fine-tuning’ the composition. Miller was so impressed by DuShon’s rendition he released her recording as a single on Chess Records’ Cadet label early in 1966. Motown CEO Berry Gordy found out that Miller, a Motown staff writer, had given the song to an outside artist, so had Miller immediately make the song available for Motown artist Barbara McNair to record and, later, for The Four Tops, The Temptations and, then, Stevie Wonder to record.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

First recorded by The Undisputed Truth (US #63/R&B #24 1971).
Other hit versions by The Temptations (US #1/R&B #5/UK #14/CAN #12/NZ #6 1972), Was (Not Was) (R&B #60/UK #11/NETH #13/SWZ #6 1990).

From the wiki: “‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ is a psychedelic Soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield (‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘)and Barrett Strong (‘Money (That’s What I Want)‘), and first recorded in 1971 for Motown by The Undisputed Truth. (This version of ‘Papa’ was released as a single in early 1972, where it peaked at #63 on the pop charts and #24 on the R&B charts.

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