Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Steamroller Blues

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.

“During the 1970s, Elvis Presley added ‘Steamroller Blues’ to his concert repertoire and included it on his live album Aloha from Hawaii: Via Satellite. Presley also released it as a single in March 1973. Presley’s recording reached #17 on the Billboard Hot 100, #10 on the Cash Box Top Pop singles chart, and #16 on the Record World singles chart.

“Merry Clayton included a version of the song on her 1971 eponymous album, titling it simply ‘Steamroller’.”

Merry Clayton, “Steamroller” (1971):

Elvis Presley, “Steamroller Blues” (1973):

James Taylor, “Steamroller Blues” live performance (1976):

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