Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Todd Rundgren

Do Ya

First recorded by The Move (B-side US #93/UK #7 1972).
Also recorded by Utopia (1975).
Hit version by Electric Light Orchestra (US #24/CAN #13/GER #42 1977).

From the wiki: “‘Do Ya’ was written by Jeff Lynne in 1971 and was first recorded by British Rock band The Move in 1972 when Lynne was a member of the group. The final Move line-up of 1972 that first recorded ‘Do Ya’ was the trio of Lynne, Roy Wood and Bev Bevan; together, they rode the Move’s transition into the Electric Light Orchestra. Released on a maxi single along with ‘California Man’ and ‘Ella James’, ‘Do Ya’ proved to be the Move’s farewell disc, and the only song recorded by the group to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 – albeit as a B-side. (The Move had ten UK Top 20 hits before its breakup.)

“ELO formed during The Move’s latter years to accommodate Wood’s and Lynne’s desire to create modern rock and pop songs with classical overtones. ELO’s sixth album, the platinum-selling A New World Record, became their first UK Top 10 album when it was released in 1976. It contained the hit singles ‘Livin’ Thing’, ‘Telephone Line’, ‘Rockaria!’ … and ‘Do Ya’, a re-recording of the Move song, that charted Top 30 in the US in 1977.

Can We Still Be Friends

Written and first recorded by Todd Rundgren (US #29 1978).
Other hit version by Robert Palmer (US #52/NETH #32 1979).

From the wiki: “‘Can We Still Be Friends’ was written and originally performed by Todd Rundgren, and released on his 1978 album Hermit of Mink Hollow. The lyrics describe a relationship to which Rundgren and the woman to whom he is singing have given great effort, but simply cannot work. Rundgren explains this, but wishes to part amicably, asking several times if he and his partner can ‘still be friends.’ The song is generally assumed to be about Rundgren’s breakup with long-time companion Bebe Buell in 1977. In 1979, ‘Can We Still Be Friends’ became a hit again when Robert Palmer recorded a version for his album Secrets, from where it became a popular Rock album radio hit.”

Love is the Answer

Written by Todd Rundgren and first recorded by Utopia (1977).
Hit version by England Dan & John Ford Coley (US #10/MOR #1 1979).

From the wiki: “‘Love Is the Answer’ is a song written by Todd Rundgren for his band Utopia. It is the closing track on their 1977 album Oops! Wrong Planet.

“A cover version by England Dan & John Ford Coley reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May, 1979. John Ford Coley was quoted as saying: ‘Of all the songs we released as singles, [this] was my favorite. The song first of all had a classical base, and the middle had a gospel section which I loved.'”

Hello, It’s Me

First recorded by The Nazz (US #66 1968).
Hit version by Todd Rundgren (US #5 1973).

From the wiki: “‘Hello, It’s Me’ was the first original song written by Todd Rundgren. It was first recorded in 1968 by Rundgren’s band The Nazz and was included on the group’s self-titled debut album.

“Rundgren had been an avid listener of music but it was only when he put The Nazz together at the age of 19 that he realized that, as the band’s front man, he’d better start penning some original material. Although first released as the B-side of The Nazz’s debut single, ‘Open My Eyes’, ‘Hello, It’s Me’ was picked up in preference to the A-side by Boston radio station WMEX, where it rose to #1. It was picked up by other stations, but not enough to fare well nationally, so ‘Hello, It’s Me’ peaked at #66 in 1968 on the U.S. charts.