Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Yellow River

First recorded by The Tremeloes (1970).
Hit versions by Christie, writer (US #23/UK #1/IRE #1/AUS #16/FIN #1/NOR #1/GER #3 1970), The Compton Brothers (C&W #49 1972).
Also recorded by Elton John (1970), R.E.M. (2003).
Also recorded (as “Tuulensuojaan”) by Danny (1970), (as “Fat Karlsson”) by Singing Guitars (1971), Mziuri Ensemble (1973).

From the wiki: “Written by Tremeloes band leader Jeff Christie, the song was first recorded by the group with the intention of releasing it as a single early in 1970. However, after the success of the Tremeloes then-most recent single, ‘Call Me Number One’, and after considering ‘Yellow River’ too pop-orientated for their future direction, the Tremeloes decided instead to follow-up with another of their own compositions, ‘By The Way’, which met only with very modest Top 40 success. Producer Mike Smith took the group vocals off the recording (leaving behind only the instrumental backing track) and added those of Christie, the songwriter, and releasing the song under the name ‘Christie’, his sole UK chart-topper as a solo artist.

“‘Yellow River’ has spawned a host of cover versions by artists as diverse as R.E.M., Leapy Lee, Elton John (when he recorded cover songs for cheap K-Tel-like ‘greatest hits’ albums), Middle of the Road, Tubeless Hearts and a French version ‘L’Amérique’ by Joe Dassin was also released in 1970, as well as a Finnish version ‘Tuulensuojaan’ (trans. ‘for wind protection’) by Ilkka ‘Danny’ Lipsanen.

“A Russian version titled ‘Толстый Карлсон’ (‘Fat Karlsson’, after Astrid Lindgren’s children book) was recorded by the Soviet pop-group Singing Guitars in 1971 and again in 1973 by the all-girl Mzuri Ensemble. The Lithuanian Theater group ‘Keistuoliu Teatras’ (Weird Theater) recorded a version by the same name, in Lithuanian called ‘Geltona Upe. an Israeli version ‘Nahar Tzahov’ was recorded by Danny Sanderson & Shimi Tavori.”

Christie, “Yellow River” (1970):

Elton John, “Yellow River” (c. 1970):

Danny, “Tuulensuojaan” (1970):

Singing Guitars, “Fat Karlsson (Толстый Карлсон)” (1971):

The Compton Brothers, “Yellow River” (1972):

Mziuri Ensemble, “Fat Karlsson (Толстый Карлсон)” (1973):

R.E.M., “Yellow River” (2003):

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