Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Jennifer Warnes

(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life

First recorded (as a demo) by Franke & the Knockouts (1987, released 1998).
Hit version by Jennifer Warnes & Bill Medley (US #1/MOR #1/UK #6 1987 |UK #8 1991).

From the wiki: “‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ was composed in late 1986 or early 1987 by Franke Previte, John DeNicola, and Donald Markowitz. Previte, the ‘Franke’ of the group Franke & the Knockouts, had had solo success with the song ‘Sweetheart’ in 1981 but, by 1986, was without a recording contract. Producer and head of Millennium Records, Jimmy Ienner, asked Previte about writing some music for ‘a little movie called Dirty Dancing‘. Previte initially turned the request down because he was still trying to get a record deal, but Ienner was persistent, and got Previte to write several songs for the film, including ‘Hungry Eyes‘, later recorded by singer Eric Carmen.

“After getting further approval, Previte created a demo of the song, performing on it himself with singer Rachele Cappelli. The demo showcased how the harmonies were to be used, employing a ‘cold open’ and a slow build-up of the song to its finale.

Right Time of the Night

Written and first recorded by Peter McCann (B-side 1976).
Hit version by Jennifer Warnes (US #6/MOR #1/C&W #17 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Right Time of the Night’ had been recorded by its composer Peter McCann for his 1976 self-titled album, and served as B-side for his own 1977 Top Ten hit ‘Do You Wanna Make Love’.

“When it came time for Jennifer Warnes to record material for her 1977 self-titled album, Jennifer Warnes, her first on the Arista label, ‘Right Time of the Night’ was not among the original tracks recorded. Arista president Clive Davis later told Billboard: ‘If a [singer such as] Jennifer Warnes submits an album which is great but lacks a hit single, I and my A&R staff will say: ‘Listen, you need a hit. Because you’re not really going to break off FM airplay’ … So we gave her ‘Right Time of the Night’.’

Easy to be Hard

First recorded by the Original Off-Broadway Cast of Hair (1967).
Also recorded by the Original Broadway Cast of Hair (1968), Jennifer Warnes (US #128 1969).
Hit version by Three Dog Night (US #4/CAN #2 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Easy to Be Hard’ was written by Galt MacDermot, James Rado, and Gerome Ragni, and was first performed in the original Off-Broadway stage production of Hair in 1967.

“Beginning in 1968, Jennifer Warnes (performing as ‘Jennifer Warren’) portrayed the female lead in the Los Angeles production of Hair. Coincidental to that, she recorded a version of ‘Easy to be Hard’ in 1969 for release (as ‘Jennifer’) in the UK in June 1969 (along with another song property from Hair, ‘Let the Sunshine In’). The American label Parrot licensed the recording for distribution in the US on the album, See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me, released in the spring of 1969. The single failed to chart in the UK but did ‘bubble under’ the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #128.

“Three Dog Night also released ‘Easy to be Hard’ in 1969, in August, with their recording peaking at #4 – their fourth single, and highest-charting song until ‘Mama Told Me (Not to Come)‘ hit #1 in 1970.”

Chelsea Morning

First recorded by Dave Van Ronk & The Hudson Dusters (1967).
Also recorded by Fairport Convention (1968), Jennifer Warnes (1968), Gloria Loring (1968), Joni Mitchell (1969).
Hit versions by Judy Collins (US #78/MOR #25 1969), Green Lyte Sunday (MOR #19 1970), Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 (MOR #21 1970).

From the wiki: “Written by Joni Mitchell, the song was inspired by Mitchell’s room in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. Although written by Mitchell in 1967, she held off recording the song herself until preparing her second album, Clouds (1969), partly because ‘Chelsea Morning’ had already been recorded by several other artists, first by Dave Van Ronk & the Hudson Dusters in 1967.