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/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 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 always seemed to have a soft spot for The Specials, going so far as to jump up on stage during a Specials performance in 2009. Winehouse produced and released a live recording of ‘Message to You, Rudy’ at the 2008 Rock In Rio Madrid show.”

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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