Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: “Mama” Cass Elliot

It’s Getting Better

First recorded by The Vogues (1968).
Also recorded by Leonard Nimoy (1968), Pierre Lalonde (1968), The Will-O-Bees (1969).
Hit version by “Mama” Cass Elliot (US #30/MOR #13/UK #8 1969).

From the wiki: “‘It’s Getting Better’ was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil (‘Make Your Own Kind of Music‘,’Never Gonna Let You Go‘, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place‘). The earliest evident recording of ‘It’s Getting Better’ was by the Vogues for their August 1968 album release Turn Around, Look at Me for Reprise Records. Also in 1968, the song was featured on the Leonard Nimoy album The Way I Feel released that October. The first evident single release of ‘It’s Getting Better’ was by French-Canadian singer, Peter Martin (born Pierre Lalonde), in September 1968.

“The folk-rock and sunshine pop trio, The Will-O-Bees, released ‘It’s Getting Better’ as a single in early 1969 but it failed to chart. (The group had also been among the first to record ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music‘, in 1968, previous to Cass Elliot’s hit recording.)

“‘It’s Getting Better’ was covered by Cass Elliot for inclusion on her June 1969 album release Bubblegum, Lemonade, and … Something for Mama. The Wrecking Crew (James Burton on guitar, Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and Joe Osborn on bass) — who’d regularly backed The Mamas & the Papas — were among the instrumentalists on the album. Cass’ arrangement peaked at #30 in August 1969 during what was then considered an unusually lengthy 19-week run on Billboard’s Hot 100. Only five other 1969 releases had longer chart runs on the Hot 100. Elliot’s ‘It’s Getting Better’ had a more pronounced chart impact in the UK, reaching #8 in October 1969.”

Easy Come, Easy Go

First recorded by “Mama” Cass Elliot (1969).
Hit version by Bobby Sherman (US #9/MOR #2/CAN #9 1970).

From the wiki: “‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ was first recorded in 1969 by ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot for her second solo album, Bubble Gum, Lemonade & … Something For Mama. A year later, teen idol Bobby Sherman recorded a cover version that charted Top 10 in the US and Canada.

“The Cass Elliot album was recorded in the wake of her breakdown following a disastrous Las Vegas show in 1968. Plagued with bills, studio executives at Dunhill Records took creative control and felt that the fastest and easiest solution would be to have Elliot record an album full of music similar to what she had done with The Mamas & the Papas. The album was originally released on July 5, 1969 with 11 tracks and was a moderate success when first released, reaching #91 on the Billboard Hot Album chart.

“But, the album was re-released in December 1969 under a new title and with a different album cover as Make Your Own Kind of Music/It’s Getting Better. ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music‘, which had been recorded separately from the album sessions, had become a hit and was belatedly added to the album.”

Make Your Own Kind of Music

First recorded by The Will-O-Bees (1968).
Hit version by “Mama” Cass Elliot (US #36/MOR #6 1969).
Also performed by The Carpenters (1971).

From the wiki: “‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’ was written by Barry Mann (‘Never Gonna Let You Go‘, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place‘, ‘Venus in Blue Jeans‘) and Cynthia Weil (‘Don’t Know Much‘, ‘I Just Can’t Help Believing‘, ‘We Gotta Get Out of This Place‘) first recorded in 1968 by New York City-based trio the Will-O-Bees (Janet Blossom, Steven Porter, and Robert Merchanthouse) who regularly performed Mann/Weil compositions. After ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot had a solo hit in the summer of 1969 with Mann/Weil’s ‘It’s Getting Better’ she recorded ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’ as the follow-up single. Her album Bubblegum, Lemonade, and… Something for Mama was then re-released as Make Your Own Kind of Music, the title cut having been added to the original track listing.”

Venus (Shocking Blue)

Inspired by “The Banjo Song” by The Big Three (1963).
Hit versions by The Shocking Blue (NETH #3/BEL #1/FRA #1/GER #1 1969 |US #1/UK #8/CAN #1/AUS #1/ITA #1/NZ #1/BZL #1/NETH #3 1970), Bananarana (US #1/UK #8/CAN #1/AUS #1/SUI #1/NZ #1 1986).

From the wiki: “‘Venus’ composer Robbie van Leeuwen admitted in a 2007 interview he took his inspiration for ‘Venus’ from the song ‘The Banjo Song’, written by Tim Rose as a lyrical parody set to the melody of Stephen Foster’s ‘Oh, Susannah’. ‘The Banjo Song’ was first recorded by The Big Three (the folk trio of Jim Hendricks, Tim Rose and a pre-Mamas & Papas Cass Elliot) in 1963.