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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

Every artist has a favorite song or artist.  It’s an honor and exciting when said artist gets to cover one of those favorites and/or classics.  For instance, there have been at least three popular versions.  Billed as “The Loco-Motion”, it’s a 1962 pop song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.  The song was written for Dee Dee Sharp but Sharp turned it down.  The song has appeared in the Top 3 thrice, each time in a different decade.  In 1962, pop star Little Eva took the song to #1 in the U.S.  In 1974, Grand Funk Railroad recorded the song.  Their version also hit #1.  And finally, Kylie Minogue took the song to #3 in the U.S. 

Our next song was also performed by three different artists.  “I’m a Believer” is a song written by Neil Diamond and recorded by the Monkees in 1966 with lead vocals by Mickey Dolenz.  The single, produced by Jeff Barry, hit #1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 31, 1966 and remained there for seven weeks, becoming the last #1 hit of 1966 and the biggest selling single of all of 1967.  Billboard ranked the record #5 in 1967.  The song was covered by Smash Mouth in 2001 as part of the soundtrack to the movie Shrek.  Weezer had a version of the song at the end of the 2010 sequel Shrek Forever After. 

My next selection is very appropriate given that Halloween is soon.  “Spooky” was originally an instrumental performed by saxophonist Mike Sharpe(Shapiro), written by Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks, Jr, which first charted in 1967, hitting #57 on the U.S. pop charts.  Its best known version was created by James Cobb and producer Bobby Blue for the group Classics IV when they added lyrics about a “spooky little girl”.  It has become a Halloween favorite.  In 1968, the song reached #3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #46 in the U.K. J.R. Cobb and bandmate Dean Daughtry, who later became part of Amazing Rhythm Section, re-recorded “Spooky” in 1979, it was the second of two singles released from their Underdog LP.  ARS’s version hit #17 in the U.S. on Billboard and #15 on Cash Box.  It also charted minorly internationally.  “Spooky” has been recorded by a number of other artists including Dusty Springfield, Percy Sledge, Martha Reeves, Velvet Monkeys and R.E.M among others. 

“But It’s Alright” is my final cover of the week.  Originally by JJ Jackson and later covered by Huey Lewis & The News, Jackson’s version(released in 1967), The song reached #22 on Billboard and #4 on the R&B chart.  It was actually one of the first R&B songs to be recorded in England.  The song features some of Britain’s top Jazz musicians of the day(Terry Smith-guitar, Dick Morrissey-tenor sax, John Marshall-drums.  It was re-released May ’69 and reached #45, remaining on the charts for nine weeks. Huey Lewis & The News covered it in ’94.  It peaked at #54 on Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart.


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