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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

There are certain songs that are just so popular that they’ve been covered by many different artists.  For instance, “Wild Night, written by Van Morrison in 1971.  Van was the first to record the song but he certainly wasn’t the last.  Van’s version peaked at #28.  A little over two decades later, in 1994, John Mellencamp and Meshell Ndegeocello recorded the song. Their version remained in the Top 40 for 33 weeks.  It also topped the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart for 8 weeks, the Canadian RPM chart for a week.  It sold 500,000 copies in the U.S. I learned on Little Steven’s Underground Garage this week that Martha Reeves covered the song in 1974 for her self-titled album.

This other one I learned from Underground Garage as well.  I had known that 1970’s and ‘80’s new wave group Blondie recorded “Denise”.  What I didn’t know, however, is that the song was a cover of the Randy & The Rainbows’ 1963 doo-wop song.  Blondie covered the song, renamed it Denis, and took it to #2 in 1978.  Whereas the original peaked at #10 in the U.S.

Buck Owens and the Buckaroos recorded “Act Naturally” February 12, 1963. Owens didn’t like the song at first.  Bandmember Don Rich heard the demo and liked it.  Eventually, the song grew on Owens.      The Beatles had originally recorded “If You’ve Got Troubles” but were unhappy with it.  They replaced it with a cover of “Act Naturally”, in 1965.  Buck’s version hit #1.  The Beatles’ version was a B-side, never released as a single.  However, Ringo Starr and Buck Owens duetted on the song in 1989.  The duet peaked at #27 and spent 11 weeks on the Billboard Country charts in the summer of 1989.

“It’s Alright” was originally recorded in 1963 by The Impressions and written by the group’s lead singer, Curtis Mayfield.  The single was the most successful chart entry of the groups career.  It was one of the two top 10 singles for the group on Billboard Hot 100.  Their version reached #4 on U.S. Billboard 100.  In 1993, Huey Lewis & The News covered the song for People Get Ready: A Tribute to Curtis Mayfield. 

The final song this week is “Brown Sugar”.  The Rolling Stones’ classic “Brown Sugar” appeared on their 1971 album Sticky Fingers.  Little Richard covered the song for his album King of Rock and Roll, also in 1971.  The Stone’s version was #1 for 2 weeks.  The song was covered by Little Richard when he was on Reprise records.  

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