Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Temptations

The Motown Song

Written and first recorded by Larry John McNally (1986).
Hit version by Rod Stewart ft. The Temptations (US #10/MOR #3/UK #10 1991).

From the wiki: “‘The Motown Song’ was written by Larry John McNally and was originally recorded by McNally in 1986 for the Quicksilver movie soundtrack. In 1991, Rod Stewart covered ‘The Motown Song’ with the Temptations, for Stewart’s album Vagabond Heart.”

I’ve Never Been to Me

First recorded by Randy Crawford (1976).
Hit versions by Nancy Wilson (R&B #47 1977), Mary McGregor (MOR #29 1978), Charlene (US #97 1977 |US #3/MOR #7/C&W #60/UK #1/CAN #1/IRE #1/AUS #1 1982).
Also recorded by The Temptations (1984).

From the wiki: “‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ is the title of a ballad, written and composed by Ron Miller and Kenneth Hirsch in 1976 and first recorded by Randy Crawford on her 1976 album Everything Must Change. The song is best known as lyrically formatted for a female vocalist (see below for male-oriented arrangement) and as such is addressed to a desperate wife and mother who would like to trade her prosaic existence for the jet-setting lifestyle the song’s narrator has led.

“Nancy Wilson’s cover was the first version of the song to be released as a single, serving as the title track of her June 1977 album, reaching #47 on the Billboard’s R&B chart.

“Charlene’s ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ had two releases between 1976-1977. The first, in 1976 for her debut album, the self-titled Charlene, was recorded with a spoken bridge. (This would be the version that saw its subsequent re-release in 1982.) When her next album, Songs of Love, was released six months later, the song was added without the spoken bridge. It was this version that was first released as a promotional single, in September 1977, and it became Charlene’s third consecutive single to stall in the lowest reaches of the Hot 100 in Billboard (#97).

“Meanwhile, in February 1978, a mid-tempo recording of ‘I’ve Never Been to Me’ by Mary McGregor was released as the advance single from her In Your Eyes album> It became a modest hit, reaching #29 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart.

Smiling Faces Sometimes

Originally recorded by The Temptations (1971).
Hit version by The Undisputed Truth (US #3/R&B #2/MOR #34 1971)
Also recorded by Bobbi Humphrey (1972), Rare Earth (1973).

From the wiki: “‘Smiling Faces Sometimes’ was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and was originally recorded by the Temptations in 1971. Producer Whitfield had the song re-recorded by the Undisputed Truth the same year, resulting in a Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit for the group – their only one.


First recorded by The Temptations (recorded 1969, released 1970).
Hit version by Edwin Starr (US #1/UK #3/CAN #1/GER #9 1970).

From the wiki: “‘War’ is a counterculture era soul song written by the songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong (‘Smiling Faces Sometimes‘, ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘, ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone‘), and produced by Whitfield, for the Motown label in 1969.

“Whitfield first produced the song – a blatant anti-Vietnam War protest – with The Temptations as the original vocalists. Whitfield re-recorded the song with Edwin Starr as the vocalist, when Motown decided to withhold The Temptations’ version from single release so as not to alienate their more conservative fans.

For Once in My Life

First recorded (as a demo) in 1965 and first released by Jean DuShon (Oct 1966).
Also recorded by Connie Haines (1965), Barbara McNair (released Nov 1966), The Four Tops (1967), The Temptations (1967).
Hit versions by Tony Bennett (US #91/EZ #8 1967), Stevie Wonder (US #2/R&B #2 1968).

From the wiki: “‘For Once in My Life’, written by Ron Miller and Orlando Murden, was originally recorded by Jean DuShon, tapped by Miller to demo ‘For Once in My Life’ as he was ‘fine-tuning’ the composition. Miller was so impressed by DuShon’s rendition he released her recording as a single on Chess Records’ Cadet label in 1966.

“Motown CEO Berry Gordy found out that Miller, a Motown staff writer, had given the song to an outside artist. Gordy had Miller immediately make the song available for Motown artist Connie Haines, who recorded the first version of the song at the label in July 1965 and, then, Barbara McNair to record (in 1966) and, later, for the Four Tops, the Temptations and, later, Stevie Wonder to record.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

First recorded by The Undisputed Truth (US #63/R&B #24 1971).
Other hit versions by The Temptations (US #1/R&B #5/UK #14/CAN #12/NZ #6 1972), Bill “Wolf” Wolfer (US #55/R&B #47 1982), (Was (Not Was) (R&B #60/UK #11/NETH #13/SWZ #6 1990).

From the wiki: “‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ is a psychedelic Soul song, written by Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield (‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine‘)and Barrett Strong (‘Money (That’s What I Want)‘), and first recorded in 1971 for Motown by The Undisputed Truth. (This version of ‘Papa’ was released as a single in early 1972, where it peaked at #63 on the pop charts and #24 on the R&B charts.