Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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You’re No Good

Originally recorded by Dee Dee Warwick (US #117 1963).
Hit versions by Betty Everett (US #51/R&B #5 1963), The Swinging Blue Jeans (US #93/UK #3 1964), Linda Ronstadt (US #1/CAN #2 1974).

From the wiki: “The original version of ‘You’re No Good’ was cut by Dee Dee Warwick for Jubilee Records in 1963 with production by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (‘Hound Dog‘, ‘Stand By Me’, ‘There Goes My Baby’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’.)

“During the playback of Betty Everett’s November, 1963 recording her Vee-Jay label-mates The Dells ‘were sitting on the wooden platform where the string players would sit… just stomping their feet on this wooden platform to the beat of the song as it was playing back… [Producer Calvin Carter] told the engineer ‘Let’s do it again, and let’s mike those foot sounds, ’cause it really gave it a hell of a beat.’ So we did that, and boom, a hit.’

“International renderings of ‘You’re No Good’ from the same period included a Finnish version, ‘Olet Paha!’, a 1964 single release by Eddy & The Lightnings. In the UK, The Swinging Blue Jeans had the hit version of ‘You’re No Good’ that peaked at #3 in the summer of 1964; this version also charted in France at #26 and was successful enough regionally in the US to reach #97 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Maria Muldaur, discussing in a 1985 interview how she ‘didn’t go out of [her] way to find followup hits” to her 1973-74 breakthrough ‘Midnight at the Oasis’, cited ‘You’re No Good’ when explaining: ‘I’ve turned down songs that have gone on to be hits for other people because I thought the lyrics were negative or neurotic’. It was Muldaur’s friend and professional associate Linda Ronstadt who would remake ‘You’re No Good'” for her double platinum career-defining Heart Like A Wheel album released in late 1974.

“Ronstadt had been featuring the song to close her live shows, her band member Kenny Edwards having suggested it to her. Ronstadt made a last-minute decision to record ‘You’re No Good’ and, rather than using an arrangement similar to the Betty Everett original she and her bandmates decided to work out a new arrangement for the recording.

“Capitol Records was unsure whether to release ‘You’re No Good’ or ‘When Will I Be Loved’ as the lead single off Heart Like a Wheel, only deciding to release “You’re No Good” a week after the album’s release. The track ascended to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated February 15, 1975. (‘When Will I Be Loved’ would be issued as the follow-up single.) The success of ‘You’re No Good’ set a precedent for Ronstadt’s single releases which over the next five years would virtually all be remakes of classic rock and roll songs.”

Betty Everett, “You’re No Good” (1963):

The Swinging Blue Jeans, “You’re No Good” (1964):

Eddy & The Lightnings, “Olet Paha!” (1964):

Linda Ronstadt, “You’re No Good” (1974):

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