Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Jimmy Cliff

Let Your Yeah Be Yeah

First recorded by Jimmy Cliff (1970, released 1976).
Hit versions by The Pioneers (UK #5 1971), Brownville Station (US #57 1973).

From the wiki: “‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ was written by Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff who first recorded the song in 1970 but which went unreleased until 1976.

“Vocal trio The Pioneers recorded their version, co-produced by Cliff, in 1971. It peaked at #5 on the UK singles chart. In 1973, ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ was recorded by the US rock band Brownsville Station (‘Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room’) for their album Yeah!. Released as a single, it was the band’s second song to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching #57.”

You Can Get It If You Really Want

First released by Desmond Dekker (US #103/UK #2 1970).
Hit album version by Jimmy Cliff (1970, released 1972).

From the wiki: “‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’, written by Jimmy Cliff, was recorded in 1970 by both Cliff and Desmond Dekker using the same backing track. Dekker’s version was the first to be commercially released, in 1970; Cliff’s original 1970 recording was later added in 1972 to the movie soundtrack of The Harder They Come.”

The Harder They Come

Written and first recorded (as “The Bigger They Come, The Harder They Fall”) by Jimmy Cliff (1971).
Hit versions by Jimmy Cliff (1972), Joe Jackson (NETH #35/SWE #18 1980).

From the wiki: “‘The Harder They Come’ is a Reggae song by the Jamaican singer Jimmy Cliff, first recorded and released as the B-side to the original release of ‘Sitting In Limbo’ in 1971. Cliff re-recorded (and retitled) the song in 1972 for inclusion in the movie soundtrack for The Harder They Come. ‘The Harder They Come’ has been ranked #341 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”

Wild World

Originally recorded by Jimmy Cliff (UK #8 July, 1970).
Other hit versions by Cat Stevens (US #11 November, 1970), The Gentrys (MOR #28 1971) Maxi Priest (US #25/UK #5 1988), Mr. Big (US #27/UK #59 1993).

From the wiki: “Jimmy Cliff’s version, released a few months before the song’s writer, Cat Stevens, released his version, reached #8 on the UK Singles Chart. Surprisingly, Stevens’ version was not released as a single in the UK, thus its appearance only on US radio charts. Some of the subsequent covers have also been in the reggae style, indicating that they may be covers of Cliff’s version, as opposed to direct covers of Cat Stevens’ original acoustic arrangement.