Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Yellow River

First recorded by The Tremeloes (1970).
Hit versions by Christie, writer (US #23/UK #1/IRE #1/FIN #1/NOR #1/GER #3 1970), The Compton Brothers (C&W #49 1972).
Also recorded by Elton John (1970), R.E.M. (2003).
Also recorded (as “Fat Karlsson”) by Singing Guitars (1971), Mziuri Ensemble (1973).

From the wiki: “Written by band leader Jeff Christie, the song was offered to The Tremeloes, who recorded it with the intention of releasing it as a single early in 1970. However, after the success of their then most recent single, ‘Call Me Number One’, and after considering ‘Yellow River’ too pop-orientated for their future direction, The Tremeloes decided to follow-up with another of their own compositions, ‘By The Way’, which met only with very modest Top 40 success. Producer Mike Smith took their vocals off the recording (leaving behind the instrumental backing track) and added those of Jeff Christie, the songwriter, and releasing the song under the name ‘Christie’.

“‘Yellow River’ has spawned a host of cover versions by artists as diverse as R.E.M., Leapy Lee, Elton John (when he recorded cover songs for cheap K-Tel-like ‘greatest hits’ albums), Middle of the Road, Tubeless Hearts and a French version ‘L’Amérique’ by Joe Dassin was also released in 1970, as well as a Finnish version ‘Tuulensuojaan’ by the eclipsed Ilkka ‘Danny’ Lipsanen. The Russian version ‘Толстый Карлсон’ (‘Fat Karlsson’, after Astrid Lindgren’s children book) was recorded by the Soviet pop-group Singing Guitars in 1971 and again in 1973 by the all-girl Mzuri Ensemble. The Lithuanian Theater group ‘Keistuoliu Teatras’ (Weird Theater) recorded a version by the same name, in Lithuanian called ‘Geltona Upe. an Israeli version ‘Nahar Tzahov’ was recorded by Danny Sanderson & Shimi Tavori.”

Christie, “Yellow River” (1970):

Elton John, “Yellow River” (c. 1970):

Singing Guitars, “Fat Karlsson (Толстый Карлсон)” (1971):

The Compton Brothers, “Yellow River” (1972):

Mziuri Ensemble, “Fat Karlsson (Толстый Карлсон)” (1973):

R.E.M., “Yellow River” (2003):

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