Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Stir It Up

Written and first recorded by The Wailing Wailers (1967).
Hit versions by Johnny Nash (US #12/UK #13 1972), Diana King (R&B #53 1994).
Also recorded by Bob Marley & the Wailers (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Stir It Up’ was written by Bob Marley in 1967, for his wife Rita, and was first recorded and released the same year by the Wailing Wailers. Following Marley’s return to Jamaica from the United States in 1967, the Wailers started their own label, Wail’n Soul’m Records, and released their first independent single, ‘Freedom Time’. ‘Nice Time’, ‘Thank You Lord’, and ‘Stir It Up’ (backed with ‘The Train’) were all recorded in the same year. The label folded shortly after, after which Marley began writing for American singer Johnny Nash. Nash used members of The Wailers and recorded several Marley songs on his 1972 album, I Can See Clearly Now, including ‘Stir It Up’.

“Johnny Nash began as a pop singer in the 1950s. He released four albums for ABC-Paramount, beginning in 1958, and 20 singles between 1958-1964 on a variety of labels such as Groove, Chess, Argo and Warners – a 1957 single, ‘A Very Special Love’, was his highest-charting (#23) until the late ’60s. Nash also enjoyed success as an actor early in his career appearing in the screen version of playwright Louis S. Peterson’s Take a Giant Step, winning a Silver Sail Award in 1959 for his performance at the Locarno International Film Festival.

“Nash recorded several songs in Jamaica, where he had traveled in early 1968 as his girlfriend had family links with local TV and radio host and novel writer Neville Willoughby. Nash planned to try breaking the local Rocksteady sound in the United States. Instead, Willoughby introduced him to a local struggling vocal group, Bob Marley & the Wailing Wailers; members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Rita Marley all introduced him to the local scene. Nash signed all four to an exclusive recording contract with his JAD label and also an exclusive publishing contract with Cayman music.

“Among Nash’s biggest hits were his self-composed early reggae (rocksteady) song ‘Hold Me Tight’ (a 1968 #5 hit in the US and the UK, and used in Score deodorant TV commercials); his I Can See Clearly Now album (the title single hit #1 in the US) was produced in London with Marley and includes four original Marley compositions published by JAD: ‘Guava Jelly’, ‘Comma Comma’, ‘You Poured Sugar On Me’ and the follow-up hit to ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, ‘Stir It Up’.”

Johnny Nash, “Stir It Up” (1973):

Bob Marley & The Wailers, “Stir It Up” from Catch A Fire (1973):

Diana King, “Stir It Up” (1994):

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