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’.
First recorded by The Miracles (first recording released September 1960).
Hit versions by The Miracles (re-recording released October 1960 US #2/R&B #1/CAN #11), Captain & Tennille (US #4/MOR #1/CAN #4 1976).
From the wiki: “The original record label for ‘Shop Around’ credits Bill ‘Smokey’ Robinson as the writer, with Motown founder Berry Gordy as producer. Robinson claims he wrote the song ‘in thirty minutes’ and that it had been intended originally for another Motown singer, Barrett Strong (‘Money (That’s What I Want)‘), but that Gordy thought the song was more suited to the Miracles. Subsequent labels list both Robinson and Gordy as co-writers.
“‘Shop Around’ was initially released (as Tamla 53034) locally, in Detroit and the surrounding area, but not intentionally. Motown’s history of the song relates that after the first pressings were distributed to radio stations and record stores ‘in September 1960, [Gordy] couldn’t sleep, worried that it wasn’t good enough (‘too slow, not enough life’). He called Smokey in the middle of the night, and had him bring all the Miracles to the studio at 3 a.m. to lay down a new, slightly faster take of the song. Gordy himself played piano.’
First performed (as “Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)”) by the Mike Garson Band feat. Luther Vandross (1974).
Hit album version (as “Fascination”) by David Bowie (1975).
Other hit version (as “Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)”) by Luther Vandross (R&B #34 1976).
From BowieSongs: “Luther Vandross had sung his ‘Funky Music (Is a Part of Me)’ during the opening set of Bowie’s Philly Dogs tour, as part of ‘The Mike Garson Band’ (basically, Bowie’s touring band minus Bowie).
“Bowie had first heard Vandross’ song during the Sigma sessions [in 1974 for Bowie’s Young Americans album], as Vandross sometimes ran his fellow backing singers through it during studio downtime. When Bowie asked Vandross his permission to record ‘Funky Music’, the latter was incredulous. ‘What do you mean, ‘let’ you record it. I’m living in the Bronx in a building with an elevator that barely works and you’re asking me to ‘let’ you record one of my songs?’
First recorded by the Irv Carroll & His Orchestra (1941).
Hit version by Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five (R&B #3 1943).
Also recorded by Joe Jackson (1981).
From the wiki: “‘Five Guys Named Moe’ was written by Larry Wynn and Jerry Bresler, and was first recorded in 1941 by the Irv Carroll & His Orchestra. Wynn later explained that the phrase ‘five guys named Moe’ popped into his head one day as he was trying to remember the names of some lesser-known musicians on a recording date with Billie Holiday, Roy Eldridge and Teddy Wilson.
“It was bassist Dallas Bartley who brought the song to the attention of Louis Jordan. Prior to joining Jordan’s band, Bartley had performed ‘Five Guys Named Moe’ while in another band playing at one of Chicago’s transvestite bars, where a deliberately camped-up arrangement of the song proved to be wildly popular. Recorded in July 1942, Jordan’s recording for Decca peaked at #3 on the R&B chart in early 1943, becoming one of his band’s earliest hits and famous signature songs.
Written and first recorded by Bo Diddley (1956).
Also recorded by Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks (1963), Quicksilver Messenger Service (1967, released 1999), The Band feat. Ronnie Hawkins (1976).
Hit versions by The Woolies (US #95 1967), Quicksilver Messenger Service (US #97 1969), Juicy Lucy (UK #14 1970), George Thorogood & the Destroyers (1978).
From the wiki: “‘Who Do You Love?’ was written by rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley, and it remains one of his most popular and enduring works. ‘Who Do You Love?’ was part of Bo Diddley’s repertoire throughout his career, but none of his various recordings reached the record charts. First recorded in 1956 and released as the B-side to ‘I’m Bad’, it did not chart. The song reached a bigger audience when it was included on his first compilation album, Bo Diddley, released in 1958.
“In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Bo Diddley’s original song at #133 on their list of the ‘500 Greatest Songs of All Time’. In 2010, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences acknowledged it with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which ‘honor[s] recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance’.
First recorded by Rose Royce (US #32/R&B #5/UK #2/IRE #7/NZ #2 1978).
Also recorded by Madonna (1984).
Other hit versions by Jimmy Nail (UK #3 1985), Madonna (US #78/MOR #29/DANCE #16/CAN #24/POL #9 1996).
From the wiki: “”Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” is a song written by Miles Gregory and originally recorded by Rose Royce. It was produced by former Motown songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield (‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘,’War‘,’Smiling Faces Sometimes‘) for Whitfield Records. Lead vocals were sung by Gwen Dickey and the song was released as the second single from Rose Royce’s third studio album Strikes Again.
“The song was developed as a result of producer Whitfield’s interest to work with Paul Buckmaster, the British arranger and composer. Together they asked songwriter Miles Gregory to write a song for them. Gregory’s undergoing medical care for his deteriorating physical health became the inspiration behind the song. ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ was one of the first recordings to make effective use of an electronic drum machine (most likely the Roland CR-78, released in 1977).
First recorded by Lavern Baker (US #17/R&B #1 1956).
Other hit version by Black Oak Arkansas (US #25 1973).
From the wiki: “‘Jim Dandy’ (sometimes known as ‘Jim Dandy to the Rescue’) was written by Lincoln Chase (‘The Name Game’, ‘The Clapping Song‘), and was first recorded by American R&B singer LaVern Baker (‘Tweedle-Dee‘) in 1956. It reached the top of the R&B chart and #17 on the pop charts in the United States, and has since been named one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. Rolling Stone magazine ranked ‘Jim Dandy’ #352 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
First recorded by Clem Easterling (B-side 1978).
Hit version by Crystal Gayle (US #15/MOR #9/C&W #2/CAN #2/IRE #1 1979).
From the wiki: “‘Half the Way’ was written by Ralph Murphy and Bobby Wood (‘Talking in Your Sleep’). First recorded by Clem Easterling in 1978, it was released as the B-side to her cover single ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ from the album Just in Time on the New Orleans indie label, Hep’ Me, run by recording entrepreneur Senator Jones.
“The song would be covered in 1979 by Crystal Gayle who, after having achieved major country-pop crossover success the previous two years with ‘Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue’ and ‘Talking in Your Sleep‘, had newly signed with Columbia Records. ‘Half the Way’ was the first song recorded under her new recording contract. As happened with Gayle’s previous recordings, ‘Half the Way’ cross-overed to the pop music chart, and was also a success in Canada (her 5th Canadian #1) and Ireland.”
First recorded by The Emotions (unreleased 1972), Vera Brown (unreleased 1972).
First released by Luther Ingram (US #3/R&B #1 1972).
Other hit versions by Jackie Burns (C&W #72 1972), Millie Jackson (US #42/R&B #42 1974), Barbara Mandrell (US #31/C&W 1 1978), Rod Stewart (UK #23 1980), Rhonda Clark (R&B #26 1992).
Also recorded by Faces (1973).
From the wiki: “‘(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right’ was composed by Stax Records songwriters Homer Banks, Carl Hampton, and Raymond Jackson. Originally written for The Emotions, it was first recorded by The Emotions and also by Veda Brown, but neither of those recordings were ever released.
“The song has had a notable chart presence, most notably by Luther Ingram, whose recording topped the R&B chart for four weeks and rose to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. Billboard ranked it as the #16 song for 1972.
“Written by the brilliant Brill Building songwriting teams of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller (‘Hound Dog‘, 1953; ‘Stand By Me’, 1961; ‘On Broadway‘, 1963) and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil (‘On Broadway’, 1963; ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” 1964; ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place‘, 1965; ‘Never Gonna Let You Go‘, 1982), ‘Only in America’ was first written for and recorded by The Drifters.
“It was written at a time before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had become the law of the land, and the original lyrics when first submitted reflected the racism that existed at the time in the US:
Written and first recorded by Barbara Keith (released Sept 1970).
Hit versions by Delaney & Bonnie (US #75 May 1970), Sherbet (AUS #18 1971).
Also recorded by Barbra Streisand (1971).
From the wiki: “A singer/guitarist and folk-influenced songwriter, Barbara Keith’s curious career began when she was discovered at Greenwich Village’s famous Café Wha?. Her first appearance on record was in 1968, with her background vocals and one of her songs appearing on the self-titled debut from Kangaroo Records. Verve Records released the first of two self-titled albums in 1969.
“Keith would would initially sign with Verve for one album (1969’s Barbara Keith). Some critics fell in love with the album but as far as sales the album went nowhere. Keith switched labels to A&M Records in August/September, 1970. Her first A&M single, ‘Free the People’, was soon covered by Delaney and Bonnie, whose promotional single peaked at #75 on the Billboard Hot 100, and a year later by Barbra Streisand (for her album Stoney End that peaked at #10 on the Billboard 200 album chart in the United States, her first to reach the top 10 in five years and a marked departure from Streisand’s previous musical direction).
First recorded by Isley-Jaspar-Isley (US #51/R&B #1/NETH #21 1985).
Other hit version by The Housemartins (UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #7/NETH #3/SWE #1 1986).
From the wiki: “‘Caravan of Love’ was a 1985 R&B hit written and originally recorded by Isley-Jasper-Isley for their 3+3 album. The song became the trio’s biggest hit, going to #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #51 on the Billboard pop chart in 1985, but would be their only prominent hit before they splintered into solo careers in 1988.
First recorded (as a B-side) by Bobby Day (US #41/R&B #1 1958).
Also recorded by Thurston Harris (US #96 1958).
Other hit version by The Dave Clark Five (US #1/UK #45 1965).
Also recorded by The Righteous Brothers (1965).
From the wiki: “‘Over and Over’ was written by Robert James Byrd and was recorded by him in 1958 using his stage name, Bobby Day (a name he earlier used when a member of the original ‘Bob & Earl’ duo until parting ways in 1957). Day’s version entered the Billboard Hot 100 in 1958, first as the B-side to the hit single ‘Rockin’ Robin’ and, soon after, as an A-side, the same week a version of the same song by Thurston Harris (who had covered Day’s ‘Little Bitty Pretty One‘ the previous year with chart success) entered the chart. Day’s version would reach #41 on the Hot 100 but would top the R&B chart; Harris’ single peaked on the Hot 100 at #96.
First recorded by Bob & Earl (1958).
Hit version by The Innocents (US #18 1960).
From the wiki: “‘Gee Whiz’ was one of two similarly-titled songs that charted in 1960. This version, written by Jeanne Vicki and Jimmie Thomas (the latter an alias for Chess Records owner Leon René), was first recorded in 1958 by Bob & Earl, Bobby Day (née Bobby Byrd) and Earl Nelson. Both authors had also collaborated earlier Day’s #1 hit ‘Rockin’ Robin’ in 1958. (Note: Day left the duo in 1960, and was replaced by Bob Relf. It was the Relf/Nelson ‘Bob and Earl’ who would go on to record ‘Harlem Shuffle‘ in 1963, Bob and Earl’s only chart success.)
“‘Gee Whiz’ was covered in 1960 by The Innocents, the group who had backed up Kathy Young on ‘A Thousand Stars‘, with a single that peaked in the US Top-20.”
First recorded by The Fleetwoods (1964).
Hit version by Chad & Jeremy (US #17/MOR #4 1965).
From the wiki: “‘Before and After’ was written in 1964 by Van McCoy (‘Baby I’m Yours‘, ‘The Hustle’), then a staff writer for Columbia Record’s publishing arm April Blackwood Music. The song borrowed the concept of ‘before and after’ images then popular in advertising campaigns for weight loss products: the song’s narrator compares his image with that of the current beau of his ex-girlfriend: ‘He wears a smile, I wear a frown…See the difference between the old and new/ Before and after losing you.’
“‘Before and After’ was first recorded by The Fleetwoods (‘Come Softly to Me’) in late 1964, and released in January 1965 as the title track for their album Before and After. Released as a single in February 1965, it had no apparent chart impact. UK singing duo Chad & Jeremy released a cover in May 1965 as the group’s label debut for Columbia Records after leaving World Artist Records. Its chart impact muted by the concurrent release of other Chad & Jeremy singles by the duo’s previous label, peaking at #17 on Billboard Hot 100, and proved to be the duo’s fourth but final Top-40 hit.”
First recorded by Roy Hamilton (R&B #8 1954).
Other hit versions by Timi Yuro (US #4/MOR #2/R&B #22 1961), Little Anthony & the Imperials (US #55 1966), Fausto Leali (as “A Chi” ITA #1 1967), Connie Cato (C&W #14 1975), The Manhattans (US #97/R&B #10/UK #4 1976), Elvis Presley (US #28/MOR #7/C&W #6/UK #37 1976), Juice Newton (C&W #1 1985).
Also recorded by Carly Simon (1981).
From the wiki: “‘Hurt’ was written by Jimmie Crane and Al Jacobs, and was first recorded by Roy Hamilton (‘Unchained Melody‘, ‘Don’t Let Go‘), whose version peaked at #8 on the R&B Best Seller chart and spent a total of seven weeks on the chart.
“The song is considered to be the signature hit of Timi Yuro, whose version went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961. But, Juice Newton’s recording charted highest on any chart when it reached #1 on Billboard’s Country chart in 1985.
Written and first recorded (as “Funky Broadway Parts 1 & 2”) by Dyke & the Blazers (US #65/R&B #17 1967).
Other hit version by Wilson Pickett (US #8/R&B #1/UK #43 1967).
From the wiki: “‘Funky Broadway’ was written by Arlester ‘Dyke’ Christian, and was originally recorded by his band, Dyke & the Blazers, in 1967. The song became later that same year when recorded by Wilson Pickett in a session at Muscle Shoals produced by Jerry Wexler.The song is notable as being the first charted single with the word ‘Funky’ in the title as well as being prototypical funk music itself.
“The ‘Broadway’ referred to in the title of the original is the Broadway Road (now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) in Phoenix, Arizona, that was at the center of the culture and entertainment of the area’s African American community, and which was ‘Dyke’ Christian’s hometown at the time.”
Written and first recorded (as a demo) by Van McCoy (1965).
Hit versions by Barbara Lewis (US #11/R&B #5 1965), Peter & Gordon (UK #19 1965), Jody Miller (C&W #5 1971), Linda Lewis (UK #33 1976).
Also recorded by The Paramounts (1965, released 1998), Cher (1990).
From the wiki: “Barbara Lewis has stated that Van McCoy wrote ‘Baby I’m Yours’ specifically for her. But, that when she first heard the demo she disliked the song. (She has suggested that she was actually daunted by the high quality of the vocal, by McCoy himself, on the demo, and at the original session recalled ‘I didn’t really put 100% into my vocal performance’ hoping that Atlantic would shelve the track as sub-par.)
“‘[Producer] Ollie [McLaughlin] told me ‘Barbara, we’re gonna have to go back to Detroit and dub you in. We gotta do your vocals over. You’re just not giving like you should on the song.’ We did several takes [in Detroit] and he was wondering ‘How am I going to get this girl to give? She’s so hard-headed.’ He said ‘You know, Barbara, Karen can sing that song better than you.’ That was his little daughter. And it pissed me off. I did one more take, and that was the take that they selected.’
First recorded by George Jackson (recorded 1972, released 2012).
Hit version by Bettye Swann (US #63/R&B #16 1972).
Also recorded by Joss Stone (2003).
From the wiki: “George Jackson was the in-house songwriter for Rick Hall’s ‘Fame Records’ in Muscle Shoals from 1968 well into the 1970s, and wrote hits for Candi Staton, Wilson Pickett and Clarence Carter, among others. He was also a great performer, but his demand as a songwriter kept his recording career very much in the background.
“In 1972, Jackson recorded ‘Victim of A Foolish Heart’ which is thought to have been recorded as a follow-up to George’s two previous Fame singles. But, his recording was shelved in favor of Bettye Swann’s version, which was released on Atlantic with some chart success. ‘Victim of a Foolish Heart’ would later be covered by Joss Stone, in 2003, on her multi million-selling Soul Sessions album.”
First recorded (as a demo) by Percy Mayfield (1960).
Hit versions by Ray Charles (US #1/R&B #1/UK #6/AUS #3 1961), The Stampeders (US #40/CAN #6 1975).
From the wiki: “‘Hit the Road Jack’ was written by R&B artist Percy Mayfield and was first recorded as an a cappella demo by Mayfield in 1960, before sending it to producer and Specialty Records owner Art Rupe. Rupe passed the song along to one of friends, Ray Charles. It became a worldwide hit after it was recorded by Charles – his sixth R&B #1 hit and second US #1 – with an arrangement featuring Raelettes’ vocalist Margie Hendrix, and would go on to also to win a Grammy award in 1962 for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording.”
First recorded by The Drifters (R&B #10 1956).
Other hit versions by Dion (US #2/R&B #5 1963), Billy “Crash” Craddock (US #33/MOR #23/C&W #1 1974).
Also recorded by The Beach Boys (1965, released 1993), Donald Fagen (1982).
From the wiki: “‘Ruby Baby’ was written by the hit songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller (‘Hound Dog‘, ‘On Broadway‘). It was first recorded by the Drifters, who scored an R&B hit with the song in 1956. Dion covered ‘Ruby Baby’ in 1963, scoring a Top-5 hit. In 1974, Billy ‘Crash’ Craddock topped the US Country chart with his cover version.
“The Beach Boys recorded ‘Ruby Baby’ during sessions for their 1965 album Beach Boys’ Party!, but the recording remained unreleased until the band’s 1993 box set Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys. Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen covered ‘Ruby Baby’ for his 1982 solo album, Nightfly.”
First recorded by Jo Jo Wail & the Somethings (1963).
Hit version by Stevie Wonder (US #29/R&B #5 1964).
From the wiki: “‘Hey Harmonica Man’ was written by Marty Cooper and Lou Josie, and was first recorded in 1963 by Jo Jo Wail & the Somethings. It would be covered by Stevie Wonder in 1964.
“Wonder has poured scorn on his pre-’65 Motown output; whenever he’s asked about these records, he seems to lump them all together as a collection of ‘juvenilia’. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s ‘Hey Harmonica Man’ for which he reserves particular criticism, describing it on more than one occasion as ’embarrassing’.
First recorded (as “What a Man”) by Linda Lyndell (R&B #50 1968).
Other hit version by Salt N Pepa (US #3/R&B #3/UK #7 1993/AUS #2 1993).
From the wiki: “Linda Lyndell sang in gospel churches as a child; though she was white, she sang in both white and black churches, and eventually began singing with R&B groups as a teenager. In the 1960s she sang as a support act with James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner, and in 1967 Atlanta disc jockey Dave Crawford tipped her to Stax Records producers Isaac Hayes and David Porter. They recorded her first single, ‘Bring Your Love Back to Me’, in December 1967 and released it on Volt Records, but the song did not become a hit. In 1968 she did a second session, cutting the tune ‘What a Man’. The song was essentially improvised in the studio by Lyndell, record producer Dave Crawford, and the Stax studio musicians in Memphis, TN.
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