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Hanging on the Telephone original

The Hanging on the Telephone original found on a mixtape

In 1973, Jack Lee wrote “Hanging on the Telephone” for his band, the Nerves. The band released the “Hanging on the Telephone” original on their self-titled 1976 EP, but it was a commercial failure. Despite their limited lifespan and success, the Nerves were ahead of their time. They became founding members of the US West Coast power pop and new wave scenes. Blondie discovered the “Hanging on the Telephone” original on a mixtape and recorded their version in 1978. It was an international hit.

Blame it on the Boogie original

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Two Michael Jacksons and the Blame It on the Boogie original

Michael Jackson sang the “Blame It on the Boogie” original. Not Michael Jackson of the Jacksons, but Michael (Mick) Jackson of Yorkshire. He wrote the song with his brother, David, and Elmar Krohn. Mick Jackson originally wrote “Blame It on the Boogie” for Stevie Wonder, but Global Records Munich asked him to record a version of his own. He recorded the “Blame It on the Boogie” original in 1977 and released it in 1978, just weeks before the Jacksons’ version.

Video Killed the Radio Star original

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Origins of the Video Killed the Radio Star original version

At 12:01am on 1 of August 1981, “Video Killed the Radio Star” became the first music clip aired on MTV. Although English new wave band the Buggles released the song in 1979, the song became an anthem of the 1980s. However, former Buggles member, Bruce Woolley, with his new band, the Camera Club, recorded the “Video Killed the Radio Star” original.

Shivers original

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The irony of the Shivers original

Written by Roland S Howard in 1978 at the age of just 16, “Shivers” is one of the most popular cult hits in Australian music. In fact, it’s my favourite Australian song. Many consider “Shivers” the reason for the Boys Next Door/Birthday Party and Nick Cave’s success. The “Shivers” original, performed by Howard’s band the Young Charlatans, appears to have an entirely different meaning behind the song. In later years, both Howard and Cave distanced themselves from the song. But there’s no doubt that “Shivers” is an enduring underground masterpiece about the adolescent pain of being in love.

The Air That I Breathe Original

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The Air That I Breathe originally written in LA

In 1972 songwriting duo Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood wrote “The Air That I Breathe” shortly after they moved to Los Angeles. The song’s protagonist doesn’t need anything besides the love of his girlfriend. Hammond recorded the “Air That I Breathe” original on his 1972 album It Never Rains in Southern California. In 1974 the song became a major hit for English rock group The Hollies.

Spooky Original

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The Spooky original was an instrumental

Thanks to Guy Richie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I discovered the groovy song “Spooky” by Dusty Springfield. Written by Mike Shapiro and Harry Middlebrooks Jr, Springfield’s “Spooky” came out in 1970. American band, Classics IV, performed another well-known version of “Spooky” in 1967. However, the “Spooky” original was a saxophone instrumental performed by Shapiro, as Mike Sharpe, released earlier that year.

Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone Original

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Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone Originally About a Bad Dad

Motown songwriters Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” in 1971. In the words of Stereogum editor, Tom Breihan, “It’s a song about a piece of shit.” The song is a conversation, sung in alternating lines by siblings asking their mother about their dead father. He wasn’t a great man. Motown recording act the Undisputed Truth released the “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” original in May 1973. The Temptation’s more well-known version came out four months later. However, the song is more about its writer, Whitfield, than either of those bands. His psychedelic soul classic was the forerunner to the extended single and to disco and house music.

When the Levee Breaks Original

Origins of the When the Levee Breaks Original

“When the Levee Breaks” tells the story of the upheaval caused by the Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927. In 1971, English rock group Led Zeppelin included a reworked version of the song as the last track on their untitled fourth studio album. Featuring John Bonham’s iconic drumming, “When the Levee Breaks” is considered on par with Led Zeppelin’s seminal rock anthem, “Stairway to Heaven”, which appeared on the same album. The “When the Levee Breaks” original was recorded back in 1929 by country blues artists Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy.

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Daddy Cool Original

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A Daddy Cool Original Doo-Wop Ditty

In 1957, songwriters Bob Crewe and Frank Slay penned a doo-wop ditty by the name of “Daddy Cool”. The Rays released the “Daddy Cool” original version that same year. Then in 1971, two Australian bands covered the song – Drummond (Adelaide band Allison Gros who later became Mississippi) and Daddy Cool from Melbourne. This post focuses on Daddy Cool’s version. Please note: Boney M’s 1976 hit of the same name is a completely different song. We don’t discuss it here.