First recorded by Bud Flanagan & Chesney Allen (1939).
Hit versions by The Johnny Messner Music Box Band (US #12 1939), Kay Kyser & His Orchestra (US #1 1939).
From the wiki: “‘The Umbrella Man’ (sometimes referred to as ‘Any Umbrellas?’, and not to be confused with the Partridge Family song — or the Roald Dalh story — of the same name) was written by British songwriters James Cavanaugh, Larry Stock and Vincent Rose. According to the lyrics, the ‘Umbrella Man’ was a repairman who mends umbrellas and parasols. He will also sharpen knives, darn socks, and even mend a broken heart of two.
“It was first published in 1924, first performe live in 1938 by the comedy double act Flanagan and Allen in the musical revue These Foolish Things, and first recorded by the duo in 1939. It has since been used in Dennis Potter’s motion picture The Singing Detective (1986) and the TV adaptation of John le Carré’s A Perfect Spy (1987).
Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Dallas Frazier (1957).
Hit version by The Hollywood Argyles (US #1/R&B #3 1960).
Re-recorded by Dallas Frazer (1966).
NOTE: Above audio is a re-recording produced in 1966 for Frazier’s album Elvira.
From the wiki: “‘Alley-Oop’ was written and composed by Dallas Frazier (‘Elvira‘) in 1957, inspired by the V. T. Hamlin-created comic strip of the same name. Three years later, in 1960, a short-lived studio band, the Hollywood Argyles, covered ‘Alley Oop’.
Written and first recorded by Bob Dylan (1970 |NETH #30 1971).
First released by George Harrison (1970).
Other hit version by Olivia Newton-John (US #25/MOR #1/CAN #3/ UK #7/AUS #7/NZ #8 1971).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan & George Harrision (1970, released 1991).
From the wiki: “‘If Not for You’ was written by singer-songwriter Bob Dylan for his October 1970 album New Morning. The song was a love song to Dylan’s first wife, Sara Dylan. He recorded it several times in 1970; the session for the released version took place in New York in August. He also recorded the song with George Harrison on May 1, soon after the break-up of the Beatles, a session that attracted much speculation in the music press. The May recording remained unreleased until its inclusion on The Bootleg Series Volumes 1–3 (Rare & Unreleased) in 1991.
“In November 1970, Harrison released his arrangement of ‘If Not for You’ on his triple album All Things Must Pass. The best-known cover version was recorded by Olivia Newton-John in 1971, using Harrison’s arrangement of the song. Newton-John’s single became her first hit song, peaking at #7 on the UK Singles Chart and topping the Billboard Easy Listening chart, as well as the title track to her debut album, If Not for You.
Written and first recorded by James Taylor (1970).
Hit version by Elvis Presley (US #17 1973).
Also recorded (as “Steamroller”) by Merry Clayton (1971).
From the wiki: “‘Steamroller Blues’ (a.k.a. ‘Steamroller’) is a blues parody written by James Taylor, that appeared on his 1970 album Sweet Baby James. It was intended to ‘mock’ the inauthentic blues bands (most always white) of the day.
“Rock journalist David Browne wrote that ‘[d]uring the Flying Machine days in the Village, Taylor had heard one too many pretentious white blues bands and wrote ‘Steamroller’ to mock them.” The song was also included on Taylor’s diamond-selling Greatest Hits 1976 compilation, using a live version recorded in August 1975 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.
Written and first performed by Henry Mancini (1958).
Hit versions by Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (US #8/R&B #12 1959), Duane Eddy (US #27/UK #6 1959), Deodato (US #84/R&B #96/DANCE #20 1976), Art of Noise (US #50/CAN #14/UK #8/DANCE #2 1986).
From the wiki: “‘Peter Gunn’ was composed by Henry Mancini for the television show of the same name. The song was also released on the original soundtrack album, The Music from Peter Gunn, released in 1959. Mancini won an Emmy Award and two Grammys for Album of the Year and Best Arrangement
First recorded by The Who (1969).
Hit version by The Assembled Multitude (US #16 1970).
From the wiki: “‘Overture’ was written by Pete Townshend and first recorded in 1969 by The Who. ‘Overture’ is one of three instrumental tracks Townshend wrote and the group recorded for their landmark rock opera LP Tommy. It was the lead track when the album was released in May 1969. More than year later, in October 1970, ‘Overture’ was released as the B-side of the promotional single ‘See Me, Feel Me’ – which did not chart – and retitled ‘Overture from Tommy‘.
“Three months before its release as a Who B-side single, the Assembled Multitude, an instrumental ensemble group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, scored with a reworking of ‘Overture’. Their promotional A-side single peaked at #16 in August, 1970 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.”
First performed by Johnnie Johnston (1942).
First released by Gordon Jenkins & His Orchestra with Johnnie Johnston (1942).
Other hit versions by Judy Garland (1943), Margaret Whiting (US #10 1943), The Glenn Miller Orchestra (US #1 1943), Sammy Davis, Jr. (US #16 1955), Louis Prima & Keely Smith (US #18 1958), Bobby Rydell (US #21/CAN #13 1961).
From the wiki: “‘That Old Black Magic’ was written in 1942 by Harold Arlen (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics). The two wrote it for the 1942 film Star Spangled Rhythm, when it was sung by Johnnie Johnston and danced by Vera Zorina. ‘That Old Black Magic’ was nominated for the Academy Award for ‘Best Original Song’ in 1943 but lost out to ‘You’ll Never Know’ (from the movie Hello, Frisco, Hello).
First recorded by James “Iron Head” Baker (1933).
Also recorded by Lead Belly (1939), Starstruck (1975).
Hit version by Ram Jam (US #18/UK #7/AUS #3 1977).
From American Songwriter: “According to reports, the song was first formally recorded in 1933 by U.S. musicologists John and Alan Lomax. It was performed a cappella by convict James ‘Iron Head’ Baker and a group of prisoners at Central State Farm, in Sugar Land, Texas. At the time, Baker was 63 years old.
“Lead Belly, who had a strong relationship with the Lomaxes, recorded a version in 1939 in New York for the Musicraft Records label. Musicraft released that recording that year as part of a five-disc album, Negro Sinful Songs sung by Lead Belly. Lead Belly’s version was also recorded a cappella, with handclaps. Later versions, though, utilized guitar accompaniment. In 1964, for example, Odetta recorded a version with musical instruments.
First recorded by Ray Kinney & His Hawaiian Musical Ambassadors (1936).
Also recorded by Dick McIntire & His Harmony Hawaiians (1936).
Hit version by Hilo Hattie (Clara Inter) & Al Kealoha Perry and His Singing Surfriders (1937).
From the wiki: “Don McDiarmid and Johnny Noble were members of Harry Owens’ band, the Royal Hawaiians, at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Waikiki Beach when they composed ‘When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop’. Owens considered the song to be ‘inappropriate’ for his band to perform. Instead, former Royal Hawaiian vocalist Ray Kinney (he was the primary vocalist for the the premiere broadcast of Webley Edwards’ Hawaii Calls radio show from the Moana Hotel in July 1935), now leading his own band, the Hawaiian Room Orchestra, arranged the first recording of ‘Hilo Hattie’ on Decca Records under the group name ‘Ray Kinney & His Hawaiian Musical Ambassadors’.
“Hawaiian-born steel guitarist Dick McIntire, and his Mainland orchestra, the Harmony Hawaiians, also released a recording of ‘When Hilo Hattie Does the Hula Hop’ in 1936.
“In 1937, Clara Inter, born Kalala (‘Clara’) Hail, a member of the Royal Hawaiian Girls’ Glee Club, proved Harry Owens wrong by turning ‘When Hilo Hattie Does the Hula Hop’ into a worldwide success, and making it perhaps the most recognized number in Hawaiian history.
Written and first recorded by Bob Seger (1973).
Also recorded by Bob Seger (1976).
Hit versions by Jon English (AUS #20 1974), Metallica (US #102/US Rock #1/CAN #5/AUS #11/NZ #22/NOR #11/FIN #7 1994).
From the wiki: “‘Turn the Page’ was first written and by Bob Seger in 1972 and released on his Back in ’72 album in 1973. It was not released as a single at that time. But, a live version of the song on the 1976 Live Bullet album was released in Germany and the UK with no apparent chart impact.
“Seger says he wrote the song in a hotel room in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Drummer David Teegarden recalls:
Written and first recorded by Bob Dylan (1967).
Hit version by Robert Palmer with UB40 (UK #6/CAN #58/IRE #6/AUS #4/NZ #1/SUI #5/NETH #4 1990).
From the wiki: “‘I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight’ was written by Bob Dylan in 1967, and first released on the alb um John Wesley Harding. He first performed the song in concert at the Isle of Wight Festival with The Band on August 31, 1969. Since then, Dylan has included it in more than 400 live performances.
Written and first recorded by Johnny Mercer (US #13/R&B #1 1943).
Other ht version by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (US #1/R&B #1 1944).
From the wiki: “”G.I. Jive” is a 1944 song written and originally performed by Johnny Mercer. Mercer intended to write a song that the soldiers on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific would like. ‘G.I. Jive’ proved to be the biggest hit of all the war songs during World War II (1939-1945) dealing with soldier life.
“Recorded first by Mercer in late 1943, ‘G.I. Jive’ was a hit … twice … in 1944 by two different performers: Mercer’s recording hit #1 on the Harlem Hit Parade for one week in January, and peaked at #13 on the pop charts. Six months later, Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five also made it to #1 with “G.I. Jive” on the Harlem Hit Parade for a total of five weeks AND hit #1 for three weeks on the Billboard ‘Most Played Juke Box Records’ national pop chart. Jordan’s B-side, “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby”, was also a charting success for the group.”
First recorded by “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins (1955).
Re-recorded by “Screamin’ Jay” Hawkins (1956).
Hit versions by Nina Simone (US #120/R&B #23/UK #49 1965 |UK #28 1969), The Alan Price Set (US #80/UK #9 1966), The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (UK #111 1968), Creedence Clearwater Revival (US #58 1968), Bryan Ferry (UK #18 1993), Sonique (UK #6 1998 |UK #8 2000), Annie Lennox (US #97/UK #63/FRA #29 2014).
Also recorded by Bette Midler (1995), Jeff Beck & Joss Stone (2010).
From the wiki: “‘I Put a Spell on You’ was written in 1956 by Jalacy ‘Screamin’ Jay’ Hawkins. Hawkins first recorded the song as a ballad during his stint with Grand Records in late 1955. However, that version was not released at the time (it has since been reissued on Hawkins’ UK compilation The Whamee 1953–55).
“The following year, Hawkins re-recorded the song for Columbia’s Okeh Records. Of the latter recording, Hawkins remembers producer Arnold Maxin bringing in ‘ribs and chicken and got everybody drunk, and we came out with this weird version … I don’t even remember making the record. Before, I was just a normal blues singer. I was just Jay Hawkins. It all sort of just fell in place. I found out I could do more destroying a song and screaming it to death.’
Written and first recorded by Allen Toussaint (1975).
Hit version by Glen Campbell (US #1/MOR #1/C&W #1/CAN #1/UK #28/AUS #36/NZ #10/IRE #3 1977).
From the wiki: “‘Southern Nights’ was written and recorded by Allen Toussaint, from his 1975 album, Southern Nights. It was later recorded by Glen Campbell, with a more up-tempo arrangement and modified lyrics (and a unique guitar lick that Campbell had learned from his friend, Jerry Reed), and released as the first promotional single from Campbell’s 1977 album, also titled Southern Nights.
“The lyrics of ‘Southern Nights’ were inspired by childhood memories Allen Toussaint had of visiting relatives in the Louisiana backwoods, which often entailed storytelling under star-filled nighttime skies. When Campbell heard Toussaint’s version, he immediately identified with the lyrics because they too reminded him of his own youth growing up on an Arkansas farm.
Written and first recorded by Walter Egan (US #55/CAN #56 1978).
Other hit version by Night (US #18/CAN #23/AUS #3/NZ #28/NETH #21 1979).
From the wiki: “Walter Egan wrote and first released ‘Hot Summer Nights’ (produced by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham) in 1978 for his album Not Shy. Released as the album’s second promotional single (US #8 ‘Magnet and Steel’ was first), ‘Hot Summer Nights’ peaked at #55 on the Billboard Hot 100.
First recorded by The King Cole Trio (1946, released 1989).
Other popular versions by The King Cole Trio (US #/R&B #3 1946), Bing Crosby (1947), Mel Tormé (1955 et al.), Stevie Wonder (1967), The Carpenters (1978), Christina Aguilera (US #18 1999), Michael Bublé (MOR #6 2003).
From the wiki: “‘The Christmas Song’ is sometimes known as ‘Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire’ and was co-written by Mel Tormé (with Robert Wells) in the summer of 1944 when Tormé was 19.
“According to Tormé, the song was written in July (1944) during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to ‘stay cool by thinking cool,’ the most-performed Christmas song was born. ‘I saw a spiral pad on his (Wells’s) piano with four lines written in pencil’, Tormé recalled. ‘They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting… Jack Frost nipping… Yuletide carols… Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.’
“The first recording and the original arrangement of the song was recorded in June 1946 by the The King Cole Trio – without strings, because Capitol Records didn’t want to risk losing Cole’s core R&B audience with orchestration. But Cole insisted, so strings were scored for a session two months later, in August 1946, This was the recording released in November 1946 with great success, peaking at #3 on both the Hit Parade and R&B music charts. (The original non-string arrangement was not issued until 1989, when it was accidentally included on the various-artists compilation Billboard Greatest Christmas Hits (1935–1954).)
Based on “The Killers Main Theme” by Miklos Rozsa (1946).
Hit versions (as “Dragnet”) by Ray Anthony & His Orchestra (US #3/UK #7 1953), Ted Heath Orchestra (UK #9 1953), Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers (as “Dragnet Blues” R&B #8 1953), The Art of Noise (UK #60/NZ #25/SWZ #29 1997).
Also recorded (as “St. George and the Dragonet”) by Stan Freberg (US #1 1953).
From the wiki: “Miklós Rózsa was a Hungarian-American composer known for his dramatic film scores.
“His career in Hollywood gained him tremendous fame: Rózsa received 17 Oscar nominations and won the award three times for his music for the films Spellbound (1945), A Double Life (1947) and Ben-Hur (1959). But the only musical motif he wrote that is easily recognizable to the general public was not part of an award-winning composition. In fact, the motif is often not associated with Rózsa at all, since the more popular version is credited to another composer.
“The famous four-note motif was originally composed by Rózsa for the 1946 American film noir, The Killers. In 1951, the same motif appeared in the ‘Main Title’ theme music for the radio and television drama, Dragnet, composed by Walter Schumann. The music became the subject of a copyright lawsuit when Abeles & Bernstein, lawyers representing Robbins Music Corporation, the publishers of Rózsa’s score for The Killers, filed for copyright infringement on Rózsa’s behalf in January 1954.
Based on ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ by The Sons of the Pioneers (1934).
Also based on “Blue Tail Fly” by Burl Ives & the Andrew Sisters (1947).
Hit version by Johnny & the Hurricanes (US #15/UK #8 1959).
From the wiki: “‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ and its derivative, ‘Blue Tail Fly’, were songs which first became popular during the rise of blackface minstrelsy in the 1840s through performances by the Virginia Minstrels. Often credited to Dan Emmett, who also wrote ‘Dixie’, both ‘Jimmy Crack Corn’ and ‘Blue Tail Fly’ regained currency as folk songs in the 1930s at the beginning of the American folk music revival and have since become popular children’s songs.
“Over the years, variants of ‘Jimmy Crack Corn/Blue Tail Fly’ appeared – among them, a ‘rock ‘n roll’ arrangement by Johnny & the Hurricanes released in 1959.
First recorded by The Valentine Brothers (R&B #41 1982).
Other hit version by Simply Red (UK #13/CAN #51/AUS #21/NZ #8/IRE #9/ITA #4 1985 |US #28 1986).
From the wiki: “‘Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)’ (sometimes stylized ‘Money$ Too Tight (to Mention)’ on some of its single and album releases) was written and first recorded by The Valentine Brothers, John and Billy, and released as a single in 1982. The song was ranked at #6 among the top ten ‘Tracks of the Year’ for 1982 by NME.
First recorded by The Buffalo Springfield (1966).
Hit versions The Mojo Men (US #36/CAN #26 1967), The Executives (AUS #28 1967).
From the wiki: “‘Sit Down, I Think I Love You’ was written in 1966 by singer-songwriter Stephen Stills, and was first recorded by his group Buffalo Springfield.
“Stills recalls he wrote ‘Sit Down, I Think I Love You’ prior to the formation of Buffalo Springfield, when he had just settled in Los Angeles and had begun writing songs that he felt ‘were personal statements and [he] had something to say.’ First recorded in 1966, it was included on Buffalo Springfield’s eponymous debut album, but because Stills had sold the song’s publishing rights, he never received any writer’s royalties. It was not released as a single.
First recorded by Manfred Mann (USA #124 1965).
Other hit version by Love (US #52 1966).
From the wiki: “In the wake of the British Invasion, Burt Bacharach (‘Message to Michael‘, ‘Reach Out for Me‘, ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’) began working hands-on with British beat groups of the era such as Manfred Mann.
“‘My Little Red Book’ was composed by Bacharach with lyrics by his songwriting partner, Hal David, as part of the film score for the 1965 film What’s New Pussycat?, and recorded by the group Manfred Mann. Keyboardist Mann recalls having great difficultly playing the deceivingly simple but frustrating piano part written by Bacharach (a notorious perfectionist) which led to Bacharach actually becoming the (uncredited) pianist on the final recording.
First recorded by The Laurels (1958).
Hit version by The Echoes (US #12/CAN #8 1961).
Also recorded (as “Merry Christmas, Baby Blue”) by The Echoes (1961).
From the wiki: “‘Baby Blue’ was written by Long Island assistant high school principal Sam Guilino and music teacher Val Lagueux. Brooklyn vocal group the Laurels (not to be confused with the Laurels who first recorded the similarly-titled ‘Baby Talk‘ in 1959) cut ‘Baby Blue’ in 1958 as a demo but couldn’t find any takers for the song. A bit more than two years later, in early 1961, the Laurels replaced a couple of members, changed their name to the Echoes, rerecorded ‘Baby Blue’ and had a hit.
“The Echoes’ single spent 12 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart peaking at #12.
First recorded by Don Covay & the Goodtimers (US #44/R&B #5 1965).
Other hit version by Aretha Franklin (US #14/R&B #9 1968).
From the wiki: “‘See Saw’ is a song written by Don Covay (‘Pony Time‘, ‘Chain of Fools‘) and Stax Records session guitarist Steve Cropper (‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay’, ‘In the Midnight Hour’) and was first recorded by Covay with his group, the Goodtimers, in 1965.
“In 1968, Aretha Franklin covered ‘See Saw’ for her Atlantic Records album Aretha Now. Released as a promotional single, Aretha’s ‘See Saw’ peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.”
First recorded and released by The Colts (R&B #11 1955).
Other hit version by The Drifters (R&B #1 1955).
From the wiki: “‘Adorable’ was written by Buck Ram, best known as the manager of, the producer and prolific songwriter for, and the guiding force behind the Platters (‘Only You‘, ‘The Great Pretender’). But, in 1955, the Colts had also caught the attention of Ram who then signed the group and got them a deal with an indie record label, Mambo Records. Ram used the group to do a recording session for a song he wrote called ‘Adorable’.
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