First recorded by The Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Hit version by The 5th Dimension (US #1/R&B #6/CAN #1/UK #11/AUS #3 1969).
From the wiki: “‘Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In’ is a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado & Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music). Originally recorded as separate performances by the cast of Hair, the medley recorded by The 5th Dimension became one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide. ‘Aquarius’ was ranked #33 on the 2004 American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Songs listing (in the motion-picture adaptation of Hair, produced in 1979).
“The lyrics of this song were based on the astrological belief that the world would soon be entering the ‘Age of Aquarius’, an age of love, light, and humanity, unlike the then-current ‘Age of Pisces’. The exact circumstances for the change are ‘When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars.’ This change was presumed to occur at the end of the 20th century; however, major astrologers differ extremely widely as to exactly when: Their proposed dates range from 2062 to 2680. ”
First recorded by The Joseph Consortium (1968).
Hit versions by Max Bygraves (AUS #1 1970), Jason Donovan (UK #1 1991).
From the wiki: “In 1967, the Head of the music department of Colet Court School, London, asked a then-unknown Andrew Lloyd Webber (and Tim Rice) to compose a song for the boys choir to sing for their end-of-semester concert. First performed as a 15-minute Pop cantata at Colet, Decca Records recorded it in 1969 as part of a concept album after which ‘Any Dream Will Do’ would eventually become a fully-realized stage production, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Following in the wake of the next Lloyd Webber and Rice success, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph received stage productions beginning in 1970; produced first for the stage in the West End in 1973, and opening on Broadway in 1982.”
First recorded by The Nick Lucas Troubadors (US #1 1929).
Other hit versions by Roy Fox & His Montmartre Orchestra (US #11 1929), Johnny Marvin (US #11 1929), Tiny Tim (US #17 1968).
Also recorded by The Humane Society (1967).
From the wiki: “‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ was written by Al Dubin and Joe Burke, and first published in 1929. Nick Lucas’ recording of ‘Tip-Toe’ hit the top of the Hit Parade in May 1929, first introduced to the public by Lucas in the 1929 musical talkie Gold Diggers of Broadway. His recording held the #1 position for 10 weeks. The song was also used in ‘Sinkin’ in the Bathtub’, the first Looney Tunes cartoon ever, in 1930.
“The song was revived in 1967 by the California rock group The Humane Society and again, in 1968, by Tiny Tim, whose version charted in the US Top 20.”
First recorded by Leo Reisman & His Orchestra with Fred Astaire (1932).
Hit versions by Fred Astaire (US #1 1932), Eddie Duchin (US #2 1933), Frank Sinatra (US #15 1943).
From the wiki: “‘Night and Day’ was written in 1932 by Cole Porter for the 1932 musical play Gay Divorce. It is perhaps Porter’s most popular contribution to the Great American Songbook and has been recorded by dozens of artists.
“It was Fred Astaire who first introduced ‘Night and Day’ on stage. It would be Leo Reisman & His Orchestra (with an uncredited performance by Astaire) who released the first recording of ‘Night and Day’, on November 22, 1932. Astaire reprised ‘Night and Day’ in the 1934 motion picture production of the show, retitled The Gay Divorcee.
“Frank Sinatra recorded the song at least five times – it became one of his signature pieces – including his first solo session in 1942 (it was after Harry James heard a then-unknown Sinatra sing ‘Night and Day’, he signed him), released in 1943, and again in 1947 – both recordings arranged by Alex Stordahl, accounting for their similarity; with Nelson Riddle in 1956 for A Swingin’ Affair!; with Don Costa in 1961 for Sinatra and Strings; and even a disco version arranged by Joe Beck in 1977.”
First performed by Iréne Bordoni (1928).
First recorded and released by Irving Aaronson & His Commanders (1928).
Hit versions by The Paul Whiteman Orchestra (US #5 1929), Dorsey Brothers & their Orchestra (US #9 1929).
From the wiki: “‘Let’s Do It, Let’s Fall in Love’ (also known as ‘Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love)’ or simply ‘Let’s Do It’) was written in 1928 by Cole Porter. It was introduced in Porter’s first Broadway success, the musical Paris (A Play with Songs) (1928), by French chanteuse Irène Bordoni for whom Porter had written the musical as a starring vehicle. The song was later used in the English production of Wake Up and Dream (1929) and was also used as the title theme music in the 1933 Hollywood movie, Grand Slam.
“Irving Aaronson & His Commanders (who also performed as the ‘house band’ for the Broadway production of Paris) was the first group to release a commercial recording, in October 1928 on the Victor label. The following year, a young Bing Crosby recorded two versions of ‘Let’s Do It’ for two different but popular bands. The first was an uncredited performance in 1929 with The Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Crosby’s subsequent recording later that year with the Dorsey Brothers, however, did list him on the label as the featured vocalist.
First recorded by Rudy Vallee (1931 |US #1 1942).
Popular version by Dooley Wilson & Elliot Carpenter from Casablanca (1942).
Other hit versions by Jacques Renard (1931 |US #3 1942), Dooley Wilson (1943 |UK #15/AUS #86 1978).
From the wiki: “Herman Hupfeld wrote ‘As Time Goes By’ for the 1931 Broadway musical Everybody’s Welcome. In the original show, it was sung by Frances Williams. It was recorded that year by several artists, including Rudy Vallée; also an orchestral recording by Jacques Renard. Neither recording had made a great impact in 1931.
“‘As Time Goes By’ was re-introduced in 1942 in the film Casablanca, sung by Dooley Wilson accompanied by pianist Jean Plummer and heard throughout the film as a leitmotif. (Wilson was a professional drummer by trade so was forced to mime his piano playing in the film to a recording, likely by studio musician Plummer.) However, Wilson was unable to record a commercial release of the song at the time due to a musicians’ strike, leading Brunswick to reissue the Jacques Renard’s 1931 instrumental recording; Victor also re-issued Vallée’s 1931 vocal recording, giving Vallee a #1 hit and Renard a #3 hit in 1942.
First recorded (as “I’ve Got to Be Me”) by Steve Lawrence (MOR #6 1968).
Also recorded (as ‘I Gotta Be Me’) by Della Reese (1968).
Other hit versions by Sammy Davis, Jr. (US #11/MOR #1 1968), Tony Bennett (MOR #29 1969).
From the wiki: “‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’ appeared in the Broadway musical Golden Rainbow, which starred Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé. The musical opened in New York City at the Shubert Theatre on February 4, 1968. The music and lyrics for the musical were by Walter Marks and were composed in 1967. (song was listed in the musical as ‘I’ve Got to Be Me’.) Lawrence released the song as a single in 1967, ahead of the show opening, and the following year it hit #6 on the Billboard MOR chart, with little or no support from traditional Top 40 radio.
“Sammy Davis, Jr. recorded the song in 1968 while the musical was still running on Broadway, altering the title slightly to ‘I’ve Gotta Be Me’ and releasing it as a single late in the year. This version of the song was a surprise hit for Davis, since the musical was not among the more successful shows on Broadway that season. It became Davis’ third-highest charting single in his career on the Hot 100.
Co-written and first recorded by Bobby Scott (1960).
First vocal version recorded by Billy Dee Williams (1961).
Also recorded by Lenny Welch (1962), The Beatles (1963).
Hit (instrumental) versions by Martin Denny (US #50 1962), Mr. Acker Bilk (UK #16 1963), Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (US #7 1965).
From the wiki: “‘A Taste of Honey’ was written by Bobby Scott (‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother‘) and Ric Marlow. It was originally an instrumental track (or recurring theme) written for the 1960 Broadway version of the 1958 British play A Taste of Honey. The original recorded versions of the song first appeared on Bobby Scott’s 1960 album, also titled A Taste of Honey. His composition would go onto win Best Instrumental Theme at the Grammy Awards of 1963.
“A vocal version of the song, first recorded by Billy Dee Williams in 1961, became popular when it was covered, first, by Lenny Williams in 1962 and, then, by The Beatles in 1963 on their debut UK Parlaphone album Please Please Me, and debut US album Introducing … The Beatles on VeeJay. (The group had begun to incorporate the song into their live repertoire in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962.)
“Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass recorded the most popular instrumental version of the song with a cover on their 1965 album, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. This recording won four Grammy awards in 1966 including Record of the Year.”
First recorded by Fred Rich & His Orchestra (1930).
Hit versions by Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1930), Ethel Waters (US #17 1931), Louis Armstrong (US #17 1932), The Happenings (US #3/UK #28 1967).
From the wiki: “‘I Got Rhythm’ was composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and first published in 1930. It has since become a Jazz standard; its chord progression, known as the ‘rhythm changes’, is the foundation for other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker’s & Dizzy Gillespie’s Bebop standard ‘Anthropology (Thrivin’ From a Riff)’. ‘I Got Rhythm’ was first performed in the musical Girl Crazy. Ethel Merman sang the song in the original Broadway production, and Broadway lore holds that George Gershwin, after seeing Merman’s opening reviews, warned her never to take a singing lesson. A complete list of notable singers who have recorded ‘I Got Rhythm’ would take up several pages. The most popular versions are those by Red Nichols & His Five Pennies (US #5 1930), and The Happenings (#3 on the US charts in 1967). A version of the song, set to a Disco beat, was re-recorded by Ethel Merman for her Ethel Merman Disco Album in 1979.
First commercial release by Sue Raney & The Nelson Riddle Orchestra (November 1957).
First performed by Barbara Cook & Robert Preston (December 1957).
Hit versions by Anita Bryant (US #30 1959), Peggy Lee (UK #30 1961).
Also recorded by Sonny Rollins (1958), The Beatles (1962 & 1963).
From the wiki: “‘Till There Was You’ was written by Meredith Willson for his 1957 musical play (and, later, movie) The Music Man, the original cast album for which was released in 1957. The first recording of the song to be commercially released came even before the original cast album release in January 1958. Promotional copies of a 45-rpm single were released on November 26, 1957 (before the Broadway premiere on December 19) featuring The Nelson Riddle Orchestra and 17-year-old vocalist Sue Raney.
“Jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins recorded an instrumental version of “Till There Was You” in 1958. Anita Bryant had the first chart success with the song, making the Billboard Top 40 in 1959. Peggy Lee charted UK Top-30 the same year in Great Britain in 1961 with her recording of “Till There Was You”.
“Paul McCartney, of The Beatles, was introduced to Peggy Lee’s music by his older cousin, Bett Robbins, and it would be the only Broadway song the group performed or would record. ‘Till There Was You’ became part of the Beatles’ repertoire in 1962 and was first recorded by them as part of their failed audition for Decca Records in January 1962. The George Martin-produced version, recorded in July 1963, would appear in the UK on With The Beatles, the group’s second album, in November 1963. ‘Till There Was You’ would also be the second of five songs The Beatles performed during their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.
First recorded by the Original Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Also recorded by the Original Broadway Cast of Hair (1968), Jennifer Warnes (US #128 1969).
Hit version by Three Dog Night (US #4/CAN #2 1969).
From the wiki: “‘Easy to Be Hard’ was written by Galt MacDermot, James Rado, and Gerome Ragni, and was first performed in the original Off-Broadway stage production of Hair in 1967.
“Beginning in 1968, Jennifer Warnes (performing as ‘Jennifer Warren’) portrayed the female lead in the Los Angeles production of Hair. Coincidental to that, she recorded a version of ‘Easy to be Hard’ in 1969 for release (as ‘Jennifer’) in the UK in June 1969 (along with another song property from Hair, ‘Let the Sunshine In’). The American label Parrot licensed the recording for distribution in the US on the album, See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me, released in the spring of 1969. The single failed to chart in the UK but did ‘bubble under’ the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #128.
“Three Dog Night also released ‘Easy to be Hard’ in 1969, in August, with their recording peaking at #4 – their fourth single, and highest-charting song until ‘Mama Told Me (Not to Come)‘ hit #1 in 1970.”
First performed by Charles Walters & June Knight from Jubilee (1935).
First commercial release by Xavier Cugat & His Waldorf-Astoria Orchestra (1935).
Hit version by The Artie Shaw Orchestra (US #3 1938).
Also recorded by Josephine Baker (1936), Eddie Heywood (1944)
From the wiki: “‘Begin the Beguine’ is a song written by Cole Porter, who first witnessed the beguine as a dance in Paris. He later composed the song during a 1935 Pacific cruise aboard Cunard’s ocean liner Franconia. The song was first introduced by June Knight in the Broadway musical Jubilee, produced at the Imperial Theatre in New York City in October 1935. Knight and Charles Walters would later release a recorded version for the Victor Records label.
First performed by Ethel Waters (1940).
First commercial recording by Ella Fitzgerald (1940).
Popular versions by Helen Forrest (US #1 1943), Ethel Waters (1946), Frank Sinatra (1954), Anita O’Day (1957).
Also recorded by Dinah Shore (1958), Liza Minnelli (1977).
From the wiki: “‘Taking a Chance on Love’ was written by Vernon Duke with lyrics by John La Touche and Ted Fetter, and has gone on to become a standard recorded by many artists. It was first performed in the Broadway musical Cabin in the Sky which opened at the Martin Beck Theater on October 25, 1940. (‘Taking a Chance on Love’ was added only three days before the New York opening, but it turned into the hit of the show.)
“The show was choreographed by George Balanchine and was a ground-breaking musical with an all-black cast. The leads were played by Ethel Waters as Petunia, Dooley Wilson (‘As Time Goes By‘) as her husband Little Joe, and Katherine Dunham as the temptress Georgia Brown.
“Waters introduced ‘Taking a Chance of Love’ as a show-stopping solo, reprising it at the end of Act I with Little Joe, and would reprise her performance in the 1943 motion picture release of Cabin in the Sky.
First performed by Jill O’Hara & Jerry Orbach (1968).
First charted by Johnny Mathis (MOR #35 1969).
Other hit versions by Burt Bacharach (US #98/MOR #18 1969), Bobbie Gentry (UK #1/IRE #1/NOR #5 1969), Dionne Warwick (US #6/R&B #17/MOR #1 1969), Deacon Blue (IRE #2 1990).
From the wiki: “Originally written for the 1968 musical Promises, Promises, it soon became one of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s most enduring songs. It was introduced in the musical by Jerry Orbach and Jill O’Hara, and was nominated for Song of the Year in the 1969 Grammy awards. (The soundtrack album did win the 1969 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.)
“The first recording of ‘I’ll Never Fall in Love Again’ to reach any of the charts in Billboard was by Johnny Mathis, whose cover debuted on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart in the issue dated May 17, 1969, and reached #35 over the course of three weeks there. Bacharach’s own version, which was sung by a female chorus, overtook the Mathis release after a May 31 debut on that same chart and got as high as number 18 during its nine-week stay. It also peaked at #93 on the Hot 100 during the two weeks it spent there in July.
“Bobbie Gentry entered the UK singles chart with the song the following month, on August 30, and enjoyed one of her 19 weeks there at #1. She also peaked at #1 in Ireland. The most successful version of the song to be released as a single, however, was by Bacharach-David protégée Dionne Warwick, whose recording made its first appearance on the Hot 100 in the issue dated December 27, 1969, to start an 11-week run that took it to #6 (Warwick’s her last Top-10 solo hit until 1979).”
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