Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Donna Summer

Je t’aime moi non plus

First recorded by Serge Gainsbourg & Brigitte Bardot (1967, released 1986).
Hit version by Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin (US #58/UK #1/IRE #1/NOR #1/SWZ #1/GER #3/MEX #5 1969).
Also recorded by Donna Summer (1978).

From the wiki: “‘Je t’aime moi non plus’ was written by French composer, actor and director Serge Gainsbourg and first recorded in 1967 by him and Brigitte Bardot. Bardot asked him to write the most beautiful love song he could imagine. They recorded an arrangement of ‘Je t’aime’ by Michel Colombier at a Paris studio in a two-hour session in a small glass booth; the engineer William Flageollet said there was ‘heavy petting’.

“News of the recording reached the press and Bardot’s husband, German businessman Gunter Sachs, was angry and called for the single to be withdrawn. Bardot pleaded with Gainsbourg not to release it, and although he protested that ‘The music is very pure. For the first time in my life, I write a love song and it’s taken badly’, Gainsbourg complied with Bardot’s request. Many years later, Bardot regretted not releasing her version. This original recording of ‘Je t’aime’ was finally released it in 1986.

Last Dance

Written and first recorded by Paul Jabara (1978).
Hit version by Donna Summer (US #3/R&B #5/UK #51 NETH #8 1978).

From the wiki: “‘Last Dance’ was written by Paul Jabara and was first recorded by him in 1978. According to the song’s co-producer Bob Esty, Paul Jabara locked Donna Summer in a Puerto Rico hotel bathroom and forced her to listen to a cassette of him singing a rough version of ‘Last Dance’. Summer liked the song and Jabara asked Esty and her producer Giorgio Moroder to work with him on an arrangement for Summer to use for her recording.

Could It Be Magic

First recorded by Featherbed feat. Barry Manilow (1971).
Based on “Prelude in C Minor” by Frederic Bach.
Hit versions by Barry Manilow (US #4/UK #25 1975), Donna Summer (US #52/Dance #3/UK #40 1976), Take That (UK #3 1992).

From the wiki: “‘Could It Be Magic’ was co-written by Barry Manilow and Tony Orlando (based on Chopin’s Prelude in C-Minor) and first recorded by Featherbed, a `ghost’ group consisting of session musicians led by the vocals of a very young Manilow. Manilow, in 1970, was unproven as a pop-song arranger and was therefore not permitted to arrange the original backing track himself upon the song’s first release in 1971. Instead, the original version of the song was produced under the hand of producer Tony Orlando.

“Manilow is said to have hated the Orlando arrangement so severely that he was appreciative of the fact that the song went absolutely nowhere on the music charts. Featuring a bubblegum pop beat, cowbells and a ‘Knock Three Times’ feel, the original lyrics have nothing in common with the subsequent 1973 hit version by Manilow (with its completely different meter and arrangement) although the chorus remained the same.