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Cover Songs That Became Big Hits


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Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge recorded "The Worst That Could Happen" and it became one of their biggest hits, charting as high as #3 back in 1968. What few people do know is that it is a cover song originally recorded by the 5th Dimension on their Magic Garden album which appeared a year earlier. I do not believe it was ever a single for them.

Can you think of any songs which was nothing more than a throw in on an album which later became a big hit for another group?

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"Hooked on a Feeling", B.J.Thomas... it was a hit in 1969??? but the best known cover is the one by Blue Sweede (or Suede???) in 1974. Blue Suede copied the version that Jonathan King did in 1973, and which was real good...

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The most obvious, Blinded By The Light.

JR....I didn't even think of that one but you are so right. Manfred Mann's version was a pretty huge hit back in 1977 (I think it was '77). I heard Springsteen say in an article recently and I believe he also said it on his unplugged concert that Blinded By The Light was the biggest hit he ever had that he didn't sing.

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Everyone knows of Blood, Sweat and Tears' You've Made Me So Very Happy but did you know it was originally done by Brenda Holloway? Written by Berry Gordy. BS&T also had a hit cover of Laura Nyro's And When I Die.

Also, perhaps the biggest cover ever was Marvin Gaye's I Heard It Through The Grapevine which was done first by Gladys Knight and the Pips. Of course CCR went on to cover it themselves for a big hit.

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JR....I didn't even think of that one but you are so right. Manfred Mann's version was a pretty huge hit back in 1977 (I think it was '77). I heard Springsteen say in an article recently and I believe he also said it on his unplugged concert that Blinded By The Light was the biggest hit he ever had that he didn't sing.

How about Patti Smith doing Bruce on "Because the Night?". I think that was by far her biggest hit.

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JR....I didn't even think of that one but you are so right. Manfred Mann's version was a pretty huge hit back in 1977 (I think it was '77). I heard Springsteen say in an article recently and I believe he also said it on his unplugged concert that Blinded By The Light was the biggest hit he ever had that he didn't sing.

That was also the first one that came to mind for me. I like Springsteen's version better. I really like that whole album.
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Well, my son says 'All Along The Watchtower' Hendrix version....I would say Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock....much bigger hit for Matthew's Southern Comfort. Just for trivia buffs...Joni M's This Flight Tonight was only a hit in the UK for Nazareth (heavy version would you believe).

I'm sure there are lots of others. :guitar:

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The Pointer Sisters did 'Fire', which Springsteen wrote. He released it later, I believe on his live album.

I don't know how big a hit it was for the P.S., but I recall hearing it on the radio a lot. I couldn't say where it charted without looking it up.

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....I would say Joni Mitchell's 'Woodstock....much bigger hit for Matthew's Southern Comfort.

Also,

I think Woodstock done by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young was a bigger hit than Joni's.

What defines a big hit ?

for example

I wasn't born when Hank Williams had the hit

I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love With You,

but

Linda Ronstadt had a big hit with the cover.

Or Linda's cover of

the Everly Brothers'

When Will I Be Loved - both versions were big hits, but for different generations.

Frank Sinatra found songs from the songwriters of the 1920's-1940's and during his Capitol Records ('50s) and Reprise Records ('60s) decades, reinterpreted dozens of classic early popular tunes with the help of dynamite arrangements by Nelson Riddle, Gorden Jenkins or Billy May...

He set the bar higher for Vocalists.

for example

the Songs for Swingin' Lovers! album ('55)

Some great songs written by George & Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Yip Harburg, Jimmy VanHuesen.

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Joni M's This Flight Tonight was only a hit in the UK for Nazareth (heavy version would you believe).

Nazareth was a great band. I have their hits CD and never really listened to them much when I was a kid. Their biggest hit here in the States was "Love Hurts". Was that not a hit for them also in the UK? The 80's offered us many power ballads from the metal bands but in my opinion "Love Hurts" was the first power ballad which first appeared in the mid 70's (1975?).

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probably the biggest selling cover was Whitney Houstons "I Will Always Love You", which is a Dolly Parton song.

I have an mp3 of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi doing "Come Together", it's ok.

No Doubt likes to do covers..."OBla Di Obla Da", "It's The End Of the World (as we know it), etc...

Phil Collins had a big hit with his cover "You Can't Hurry Love".

nobody even tries to cover Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin...for good reason.

I have an mp3 of phish covering "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"...blech..and "Rocky Raccoon"...double barf.

Cruel Summer was covered pretty well--bananrama then ace of base.

banarama covered "Venus".

Rod Stewart had a big hit with his cover of Van Morisson's "Have I told You Lately".

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Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge recorded "The Worst That Could Happen" and it became one of their biggest hits, charting as high as #3 back in 1968. What few people do know is that it is a cover song originally recorded by the 5th Dimension on their Magic Garden album which appeared a year earlier. I do not believe it was ever a single for them.

Can you think of any songs which was nothing more than a throw in on an album which later became a big hit for another group?

good stuff, thanks... i love this kind of music trivia...i know who the 5th dimension is but the other stuff i don't.

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Another is Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sherriff". I am sure it was a big hit for him back in Jamaica but it was Eric Clapton's version that hit it big here in the U.S.

On Neil Diamond's Lovescape album he did "Don't Turn Around" but it was a huge hit for Ace of Base a couple of years later.

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here's telegraph.uk's top 10 cover's list.....some of these are bizarre..........

10 Mr Bojangles - Nina Simone, 1971

orig. Jerry Jeff Walker, 1967

Much recorded, often trampled underfoot (hang your head in shame, Bob Dylan, Lulu and Robbie Williams), this strange Jerry Jeff Walker ballad about an itinerant dancer was made famous by Sammy Davis Jnr as a theatrical showstopper. The inimitable Nina Simone gets to the lonely heart of the tale, in an ethereal, understated, drifting, low-key version. Key moment: The whole song. Simone's almost casual delivery de-dramatises the narrative yet ensures the inherent emotion resonates all the louder.

9 Comfortably Numb - Scissor Sisters, 2004

Orig. Pink Floyd, 1979

Only divine inspiration could explain how, or why, New York's bendiest band came to pop Pink Floyd's balloon of pretension by re-recording their most horribly self-regarding song in the style of the Saturday Night Fever-era Bee Gees. At once cold, sexy and relentlessly danceable, it far outshines the original in both concept and execution. Key moment: The flurry of electronic handclaps after the line "You may feel a little sick."

8 Twist and Shout - The Beatles, 1963

Orig. the Isley Brothers, 1960

The Beatles recorded their version in a single take for their debut album Please Please Me ? and the world changed. John Lennon's lead vocal sounds as raw and urgent as a live concert, aeons away from the bland, computerised studio sound of today. Key moment: John's barked "Shake it up baby" after Paul and George's aaahs in the middle.

7 Mr Tambourine Man - The Byrds, 1965

orig. Bob Dylan, 1964

Folk and rock were inconceivable bedfellows, respectively too earnest and too thrill-driven to contemplate each other's existence, until these Californian Beatles obsessives fused the two musics in one exquisite, harmony-loaded Bob Dylan cover. The lyrics reflected how Dylan, tiring of polemic, was now consumed by the seduction of pure music. The Byrds completed that transition for him in none-more-beautiful sound, and went to number one. Key moment: That guitar-chiming intro.

6 Tainted Love - Soft Cell, 1981

orig. Gloria Jones, 1964

With Marc Almond's heroically overwrought vocal adding a deliciously deviant twist to Dave Ball's slinky synth-pop backing track, this straight-ahead '60s soul stomper (originally performed by Gloria Jones ? later mother of Marc Bolan's son, Rolan) was somehow transformed into the mystical bridge between Northern soul and acid house. Key moment: The syncopated handclap/keyboard lurch combo which launched a million dancefloor forays.

5 Respect - Aretha Franklin, 1967

orig. Otis Redding, 1965

Soul queen Aretha took Redding's original and turned it into a kind of proto-girl power anthem. Redding sang: "All I'm asking is for a little respect when I come home." Franklin changed the "I" to "you", added the r-e-s-p-e-c-t bit, and made the song her own. Key moment: "Sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me sock it to me."

4 Hallelujah - Jeff Buckley, 1993

orig. Leonard Cohen, 1984

If Leonard Cohen has a fault, it's a weakness for ponderous, synth-heavy arrangements, and nowhere was this more so than on his original version of this lyrically magnificent song. Then Jeff Buckley got hold of it, stripped it down, and sang it in his exquisitely pure chorister's voice. Definitive. Key moment: The serene, sustained falsetto note towards the end.

3 My Way - Sid Vicious, 1979

orig. Frank Sinatra, 1969 (after Paul Anka, 1969)

He knifed his girlfriend Nancy Spungen to death and died soon afterwards from an overdose of heroin supplied by his own mother. But Sid Vicious should also be remembered for this riotous version of the song made famous by Sinatra, recorded with the rump of the Sex Pistols following Johnny Rotten's departure. The Pistols rock like demons, and Vicious snarls and sneers his way through the song's valedictory lyric with twisted glee. It's mad, hilarious, and thrilling. Key moment: Vicious sings the first verse in tones of mock-seriousness (inserting obscenities along the way); then the guitars and drums kick in.

2 You Were Always on My Mind - Pet Shop Boys, 1987

orig. Elvis Presley, 1972 (after brenda lee, 1971)

The Boys, on career best form, elevated Elvis's tender elegy ? written by Willie Nelson ? into a monumental explosion of high pop camp. Chris Lowe conjures an electronic symphony of rumbling drums, swelling strings and glittering synths to underpin Neil Tennant's crystalline vocals. "I'm sorry I treated you wrong," mourned Elvis. "You'd be a fool to lose me, cad though I am," seems to be Tennant's message. Key moment: the stabbing trumpet sample, introduced before the song kicks in: Da! Da-da-da-da-da. Da!

And the greatest cover ever...

1 All Along the Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix Experience, 1968

orig. Bob Dylan, 1967

Jimi Hendrix

The greatest cover version of all-time: Hendrix doing a Dylan song

Hendrix's version of a so-so track from Dylan's John Wesley Harding album completely outgunned the original. A light, scampering ballad re-emerged as a mini-epic of foreboding with Hendrix's heavy three-chord intro hanging like a thundercloud and Dylan's lyrics sounding an ominous epitaph for the 1960s. Key moment: The last words ? "And the wind began to howl" - before the closing guitar storm.

Lovefilm

Strategic Dimensions

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Another is Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sherriff". I am sure it was a big hit for him back in Jamaica but it was Eric Clapton's version that hit it big here in the U.S.

On Neil Diamond's Lovescape album he did "Don't Turn Around" but it was a huge hit for Ace of Base a couple of years later.

yeah, when people think classic cover they think of Clapton's "Sherrif"...

funny nobody ever covered "Wonderful Tonight" with any real success.

Clapton covered "After Midnight" in the late 80's...does that count? covering yourself?!

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