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He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother original

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The Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother original: a poignant ballad

In the late 1960s, songwriters Bobby Scott and Bob Russell wrote their only collaboration, the ballad “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”. The song became a worldwide hit for English rock group the Hollies in late 1969. It was also a hit for Neil Diamond the following year. Earlier in 1969, American singer, songwriter and record producer Kelly Gordon released the “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” original. This song about helping others is one of the most famous ballads in the world and has beautiful lyrics. It’s all the more poignant when you learn that Russell was dying of lymphoma at the time he and Scott wrote the song.

Wishin’ and Hopin’ original

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Bacharach, David and the Wishin’ and Hopin’ original

American songwriting duo Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote “Wishin’ and Hopin'”, a 1960s pop song told from the perspective of a girl giving advice on how to snag a man. The song became Dusty Springfield’s first American top ten hit in 1964. It was also Bacharach and David’s first hit with a British Invasion artist. However, it was another Bacharach-David artist, Dionne Warwick, who recorded the “Wishin’ and Hopin'” original two years earlier. Although Springfield’s song was more successful, both versions have that fantastic stop-start sixties-sounding melody.

Angel of the Morning original

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Angel of the Morning original & two hit covers

In 1967, songwriter Chip Taylor wrote “Angel of the Morning”. The song was about premarital sex, a topic mainstream media at the time still considered as taboo. “Angel of the Morning” earned American singer Merrilee Rush a Grammy nomination in 1968. Country rock singer Juice Newton released the most successful version in 1981. She also received a Grammy nomination for the song in the same category as Rush. However, Brooklyn-born Evie Sands released the “Angel of the Morning” original back in 1967.

The Glory of Love original

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The Glory of Love original was a jazz standard

American songwriter, violinist and pianist Billy Hill wrote “The Glory of Love” in 1936. I’m most familiar with the song from 12-year-old Mayim Bialik’s performance in the 1988 film Beaches. I was surprised to learn that Bialik didn’t actually perform vocals, just the dance routine in her bright pink flapper dress. Melissa Garcia sang vocals. In 1951, a version by doo-wop group the Five Keys hit number one on the R&B charts for four non-consecutive weeks. However, back in 1936 Benny Goodman and his orchestra recorded “The Glory of Love” original, with vocals by Helen Ward.

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Note: this article looks at “The Glory of Love” jazz standard, not Peter Cetera’s 1986 soft-rock hit of the same name.

Don’t Leave Me This Way original

Don’t Leave Me This Way original & two covers

In the mid 70s, American songwriters Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert wrote “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. It’s a song about yearning and loss for a loved one who has left the relationship. The song is gender neutral – the object of desire is simply addressed as “baby”. This worked out well seeing male, female, straight and gay artists performed “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. English duo the Communards released a Hi-NRG version that was the UK’s biggest selling single of 1986. Up and coming Motown artist Thelma Houston released a disco version in 1977 which was also a number one hit. However, in 1975 Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes recorded the “Don’t Leave Me This Way” original with vocals by Teddy Pendergrass.

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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.

Wind Beneath My Wings Original

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A Wind Beneath My Wings original from Kamahl

American songwriters Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley penned “Wind Beneath My Wings” in 1982. In 2002, this was apparently the most-played song at British funerals, and even in 2019 ranked in the top 10 funeral songs. “Wind Beneath My Wings” is Bette Midler’s signature song. But did you ever know that the “Wind Beneath My Wings” original was recorded by none other than our very own Kamahl?