Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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A Message to You, Rudy

First recorded (as “Rudy, A Message to You”) by Dandy (1967).
Hit version by The Specials (UK #10/IRE #19/AUS #29/NZ #29/NETH #22 1979).
Also recorded by Barenaked Ladies (demo 1988), Amy Winehouse (2008).

From the wiki: “‘A Message to You, Rudy’ is a 1967 rocksteady song written by Dandy Livingstone. The song, originally entitled ‘Rudy, A Message to You’ later achieved broader success when, in 1979, The Specials’ cover reached #10 in the UK Singles Chart. Veteran trombone player Rico Rodriguez played on both Livingstone’s 1967 and The Specials’ 1979 recordings.

“‘Rudy’ (or Rudi, Rude boy) is a Jamaican term for criminal juveniles. Livingstone’s original recording was a portrait of social unrest amongst the youth in Kingston, Jamaica; The Specials 1979 update was a comment on British disaffection in the late 1970s when a series of strikes and riots in the UK disrupted everyday life.

“Barenaked Ladies released five demo tapes before being signed to Reprise Records in 1992. ‘Rudi, A Message to You’ appeared on the final ‘black and white’ edition of the Buck Naked demo recordings from 1988. Fewer than 600 copies were made (recorded on a four-tracker recorder), with many sold by the band off-stage at gigs.

“Amy Winehouse seemed to have a soft spot for The Specials and ‘A Message to You, Rudy’, going so far as to jump up on stage during a Specials performance in 2009 to perform the song with the band. Winehouse often included ‘A Message to You, Rudy’ in her concerts, including performances at both of her Glastonbury appearances in 2007 and 2008, releasing a recording of her 2007 appearance on Live at Glastonbury 2007 released in 2022.”

The Specials, “A Message to You, Rudy” (1979):

Barenaked Ladies, “Rudi, A Message to You” demo (1988):

Amy Winehouse, “A Message to You, Rudy” live (2008):

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