First recorded by The Beatles (1967).
First single release by The Young Idea (UK #10 1967).
Other hit single versions by Joe Cocker (US #68/UK #1 1968), The Beatles (US #71/UK #63 1978), Wet Wet Wet (UK #1/IRE #1/FRA #3/GER #3 1988), Sam & Mark (UK #1 2004).
From the wiki: “‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, and first appeared on the Beatles’ 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Not one of that album’s promotional single releases, the song was first released as single by British singers The Young Idea in 1967.
“A subsequent recording of the track by Joe Cocker – a radical re-arrangement of the original, including an extended instrumental intro (featuring keyboardist Tommy Eyre and guitarist Jimmy Page) – became a hit single in 1968 and an anthem for the Woodstock era. In 1978, the Beatles’ recording, paired with ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, was reissued as a single.
First recorded by Otis Williams & His Charms (1960).
Hit versions by Ray Charles (US #9/R&B #1 1961), Joe Cocker (US #11/UK #46 1987 |UK #17 1992).
From the wiki: “‘Unchain My Heart’ was written by Bobby Sharp, and was first recorded in 1960 by Otis Williams & His Charms, produced by Sharp and Teddy Powell for King Records with no apparent chart impact.
“Sharp, a drug addict at the time, had sold half the songwriting credits to Powell for $50. In 1963, Sharp sold the other half for $1,000. (Sharp sued Powell for a return of the full rights to the song a year later and, after a seven-year legal battle, the suit was settled in his favor.) In 1987, Sharp was also able to renew the copyright to ‘Unchain My Heart’ for his own publishing company, B. Sharp Music.
“The song became a hit for Ray Charles when released as a single in late 1961. Accompanied by his Raelettes, Charles’ band also included longtime saxophonist David ‘Fathead’ Newman. The song was further popularized by Joe Cocker when he named his 1987 album after the song. The promotional single nudged the US Top 10 in 1987, and also charted in the UK. Cocker’s recording was re-released in 1992 and, second time around, reached #17 on the UK Singles chart.”
Written and first recorded by The Allman Brothers (1970).
Also recorded by Buddy Miles (1971).
Hit versions by Joe Cocker (US #23 1972), Gregg Allman (US #19 1973), Paul Davidson (UK #10 1976), Willie Nelson (C&W #6 1980).
From the wiki: “‘Midnight Rider’ is a popular and widely covered song by The Allman Brothers Band from their 1970 album Idlewild South, written by Gregg Allman and Robert Kim Payne. Drummer Buddy Miles (Electric Flag, Jimi Hendrix) recorded the first cover of ‘Midnight Rider’, in 1971, for the album A Message to the People. Recordings by Joe Cocker, Gregg Allman himself (on his solo album Laid Back), Paul Davidson, and Willie Nelson have all reached the US and UK charts as singles but the song, as recorded by The Allman Brothers Band, was never released as a single.”
First recorded by The Coasters (1965).
Hit versions by Manfred Mann (UK #1 EP 1965), Ray Charles (US #31/R&B #1 1966).
Also recorded by Ronnie Milsap (1965), Joe Cocker (1969).
From the wiki: “‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ was written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Josephine Armstead, and was first recorded by The Coasters in May 1965. It is notable for being one of the first successful compositions by Ashford & Simpson (‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, ‘California Soul‘, ‘Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing’). Although a non-charter for The Coasters, ‘Let’s Go Get Stoned’ was most memorable because it became a 1966 #1 R&B and Pop #31 hit for Ray Charles, recorded shortly after Charles was released from rehab after a sixteen-year heroin addiction.
“The year prior, in 1965, the UK group Manfred Mann recorded the song for their #1 British extended-play No Living Without Loving, which topped the UK EP charts in December 1965. Joe Cocker covered the song several times live, most notably at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and on the Mad Dogs & Englishmen live album released 1970.”
Co-written and first recorded by Barry Goldberg (1973).
Hit version by Gladys Knight & The Pips (US #4/R&B #1 1973).
Also recorded by Bob Dylan (bootleg 1984), Joe Cocker (1989), Gerry Goffin, co-writer (1995), Joan Osborne (2007).
From the wiki: “‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’ was written by Gerry Goffin (‘Up on the Roof‘, ‘Oh No Not My Baby‘, ‘Saving All My Love for You‘, ‘One Fine Day’) and by Barry Goldberg, and was first recorded by Goldberg in 1973 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with co-producers Jerry Wexler and Bob Dylan (also on backing vocals and percussion).
“Goldberg was the pianist behind Dylan at the infamous ‘Dylan goes electric’ Newport Folk Festival performance in 1965 (he was a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band that had backed Dylan), and it was Dylan who helped Goldberg secure the deal with Atlantic Records that resulted in the 1974 release of Barry Goldberg.
Written and first recorded (as a demo) by George Harrison (1969, released 1996).
First commercial recording by Joe Cocker (1969).
Hit versions by The Beatles (US #1/UK #4 1969), Shirley Bassey (US #55/UK #4 1970), Johnny Rodriguez (C&W #6 1974)
Also recorded by Ray Charles (1971).
From the wiki: “‘Something’ was the first Beatles song written by lead guitarist George Harrison to appear as an A-side single, and the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was in the band. Harrison began working on a song that eventually became known as ‘Something’ during the 1968 recording sessions for The Beatles (aka The White Album). Harrison recorded the demo of ‘Something’ on February 25, 1969, his 26th birthday.
“Producer Glyn Jones, who engineered the Beatles’ Get Back sessions, recalls ‘One morning before the others arrived at the studio, George asked me if I would stay behind at the end of the day to cut a demo with him of a song he had written, as he didn’t want to play it in front of the others. So we waited for everyone to leave and he went out into the empty studio and played ‘Something in the Way She Moves’, which might just be the greatest song he ever wrote. He came into the control room, and after having it played back to him, he asked what I thought of it, as he seemed unsure. I told him it was brilliant and that he must play it to the others. I can only assume that his confidence had been dented as a result of living in the shadow of John and Paul.’ [Source: Sound Man, by Glyn Jones, 2014]
“Harrison’s original intention had been to offer the song to Apple Records signing Jackie Lomax as he had done with a previous composition, ‘Sour Milk Sea’. When this fell through, ‘Something’ was instead given to Joe Cocker to record. Cocker completed his recording at A&M Studios in Los Angeles before The Beatles completed their recording in August 1969 at Abbey Road, but Cocker’s recording was not released (on Joe Cocker!, his second album, on which also appeared another Beatles composition, ‘She Came in Through the Bathroom Window’) until November 1969 – six weeks after the release of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.
First recorded by Traffic (US #123 1968).
Hit versions by Joe Cocker (US #69 1969 |US #33/NETH #11 1972), Mongo Santamaria (US #95 1969), Grand Funk Railroad (US #54/CAN #20 1971).
ALso recorded by Three Dog Night (1969), Chairmen of the Board (1970), Jackson 5 (1971).
From the wiki: “‘Feelin’ Alright?’ (also known as ‘Feeling Alright’) was written by Dave Mason of the band Traffic from their eponymous 1968 album, Traffic. Dave Mason wrote this song with the title ‘Not Feelin’ Too Good Myself,’ which is more accurate in terms of the song’s meaning, but less marketable. (Mason explained: ‘It’s just a song about a girl. It’s just another relationship gone bad.’)
“The original Traffic version of the song, filled with the corresponding melancholy, was issued as ‘Feelin’ Alright?’ – the question mark providing a vital clue to the content. Joe Cocker’s version scrapped the punctuation and was issued as ‘Feeling Alright’, which is how it was listed on most subsequent covers. Cocker recorded it in his debut album, With a Little Help from My Friends, in 1969. In its first release in 1969, his cover reached #69 on the US Billboard Hot 100. In a 1972 re-release, the single reached even higher – #33 on the same chart.
Co-written and first recorded by Billy Preston (1974).
Hit version by Joe Cocker (US #5/MOR #12/CAN #4 1975).
From the wiki: “Written by Billy Preston (‘Will It Go ‘Round in Circles’) and Bruce Fisher (‘If I Ever Lose This Heaven‘), ‘You Are So Beautiful’ was first recorded by Preston for the album The Kids & Me, released in May 1974. The album’s dedication, reflected in the title, was to St. Elmo’s Village, an inner-city children’s recreation center and arts community located in Los Angeles.
“In November 1974, Joe Cocker released a slower version of the song on his album I Can Stand a Little Rain. Cocker’s version was produced by Jim Price, and released as a single. It became one of Cocker’s biggest chart hits, peaking at #5 on the United States’ Billboard Hot 100, and at #4 on Canada’s Top Singles chart.
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