Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Tagged: Tommy James & The Shondells

Sugar on Sunday

Written and first recorded by Tommy James & the Shondells (1969).
Hit version by The Clique (US #22 1969).

From the wiki: “‘Sugar on Sunday’ was written by Tommy James and Mike Vale, and was first recorded by Tommy James & the Shondells in late 1968 for inclusion on the Crimson & Clover album, released in January 1969. The song was not released as a single, perhaps because of its similarity to the album’s two hit singles: ‘Crimson and Clover’ (a #1 hit) and ‘Crystal Blue Persuasion’ (a #2 hit).

“The Clique was a late 1960s American sunshine pop band from Houston, Texas. They started as the Roustabouts in the Beaumont, Texas area, 90 miles east of Houston, and later the Sandpipers before renaming themselves the Clique in 1967 and settling in Houston. Their first hit was a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘Splash 1’, on Cinema Records, produced by Walt Andrus. The song was #1 in Houston for several weeks.

“The Clique’s eponymous debut album, released by White Whale Records in the summer of 1969, featured the singles ‘I’ll Hold Out My Hand’ and their cover of ‘Sugar on Sunday’. The latter single reached #22 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1969.”

Hanky Panky

Originally recorded by The Raindrops (1963).
First released (as a B-side) by The Summits (1963).
Hit version by Tommy James & The Shondells in (1964|US #1 1966)
Also recorded by Neil Diamond (US #51/AUS #55 1968).

From the wiki: “Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (‘Do Wah Diddy Diddy‘, ‘Be My Baby’, ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’) authored the song in 1963 and were the first to record it. They were in the middle of a recording session for their group The Raindrops, and realized they needed a B-side to a single, ‘That Boy John’. The duo then went into the hall and penned the song in 20 minutes. The Summits (a group produced by The Tokens), however, were first to release a ‘Hanky Panky,’ also as a B-Side (to ‘He’s An Angel’), in October 1963. The Raindrops’ recording was released in November 1963.

“Although only a B-side (and one that the two composers were not terribly impressed with), ‘Hanky Panky’ became popular with garage rock bands. Tommy James heard it being performed by one such group in a club in South Bend, Indiana. ‘I really only remembered a few lines from the song,’ James to an interviewer. ‘So, when we went to record it, I had to make up the rest of the song.’

“James’ version was recorded at a local radio station, WNIL in Niles, Michigan, and released on the local Snap Records label, selling well in the tri-state area of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. However, lacking national distribution, the single quickly disappeared. James moved on, breaking up The Shondells, and finishing high school.

“In 1965, an unemployed James was contacted by Pittsburgh disc jockey ‘Mad Mike’ Metro. Metro had begun playing the Shondells’ version of ‘Hanky Panky’ and the single had become popular in that area. James then decided to re-release the song, traveling to Pittsburgh where he hired the first decent local band he ran into, the Raconteurs, to become the new Shondells (the original members having declined to re-form) in order to perform the song in live shows.

“After appearances on TV and in clubs in the city, James took a copy of the original Snap Records recording of ‘Hanky Panky’ to New York, where he sold it to Roulette Records. ‘The amazing thing is we did not re-record the song,’ James recalls. ‘I don’t think anybody can record a song that bad and make it sound good. It had to sound amateurish like that.’ It was released promptly and took the top position of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in July 1966.

“Neil Diamond recorded a version of ‘Hanky Panky’ and it was released as the B-side to ‘New Orleans’ in 1968 when the A-side peaked at #51 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #55 in Australia. His recording begins with Diamond complaining to the producer ‘No, I’m not gonna sing this song. DO IT DO IT. I don’t care who wrote it. YA. Alright.'”

The Summits, “Hanky Panky” (1963):

Tommy James & The Shondells, “Hanky Panky” (1964 rereleased 1966):

Neil Diamond, “Hanky Panky” (1968):