Friday, September 19, 2014

10 more old recordings that became new hits

This follow-up to Music Weird's recent post on 10 old recordings that became new hits offers 10 more of the same: songs that became hits again—or even became hits for the first time—years after they were recorded.

1. Franck Pourcel's French Fiddles – "Only You (And You Alone)"

French arranger, composer, and conductor Franck Pourcel recorded his orchestral rendition of the Platters’ “Only You (And You Alone)” in 1956, but it didn’t become a hit in the US until 1959, when it became not only a Top 10 hit but also a Top 20 R&B hit! In 1972, Billboard reported that the record had sold five million copies. In the UK, the record was credited to the Rockin’ Strings of Franck Pourcel, which is fitting in light of its rock-a-ballad beat. 

2. Chris Barber's Jazz Band – "Petite Fleur (Little Flower)"

Chris Barber recorded his remake of Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur (Little Flower)” for the 1956 album Chris Barber Plays, Volume 3. The recording featured the clarinet of Monty Sunshine. Much to Barber’s surprise, “Petite Fleur” became a hit three years later in England, Germany, and the US. It earned his group a spot as the first British group to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and spent four months on the US chart. In England, it was a Top 3 hit.  



3. The Rockin' Rebels – "Wild Weekend"

The Rebels recorded "Wild Weekend," the theme from Buffalo, New York, DJ Tom Shannon's radio show of the same name, in 1959, but it wasn't a big seller. In 1962, another disc jockey started using the tune as his theme, so Swan Records reissued the single. Swan changed the band name from the Rebels to the Rockin' Rebels to avoid confusion with Duane Eddy's Rebels. The reissue finally clicked with the national audience and sailed into the Top 10. 


4. The Viscounts – "Harlem Nocturne"

One of the greatest rock instrumentals of all time, "Harlem Nocturne" by New Jersey's Viscounts charted twice seven years apart. This atmospheric rock version of the jazz standard didn't crack the Top 40 when it was first released in 1959, but it did when it was re-released in 1966 . 


5. Jim Reeves – 34 hits!

Country star Jim Reeves died in the summer of 1964 when he crashed his private airplane. His label, RCA Victor, continued to release singles from his backlog of recordings, and Reeves remained a fixture on the country chart through 1984. He charted a whopping 34 singles after his death, including five #1 hits! Some fans didn't realize that he had died; he continued to receive fan mail years after his death. Here's his first posthumous chart topper, "This Is It."


6. Numerous holiday songs

Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock," Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash," and other holiday-themed recordings charted year after year around their respective holidays. Crosby's "White Christmas" even became a #1 hit twice!


7. Chubby Checker – "The Twist"

Chubby Checker's recording of "The Twist" became a #1 hit twice: first in 1960 and again only two years later. The only other song that has duplicated this feat on the Billboard chart is Bing Crosby's "White Christmas." 


8. The Proclaimers – "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"

"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" was a hit in England and Australia in 1989. Four years later, it was featured in the film Benny & Joon and belatedly became a Top 3 hit in the US. 


9. Moody Blues – "Nights in White Satin"

A UK Top 20 hit when it was first released in 1967, "Nights in White Satin" wouldn't become a US hit until 1972, when it was re-released and went to #1 on the Cash Box pop chart. 

10. The Righteous Brothers – "Unchained Melody"

The story of "Unchained Melody" spans the decades. Its songwriter, Alex North, first composed the song in 1936, but it wasn't recorded until nearly 20 years later, when North contributed it to the film Unchained. (That's where the "unchained" in the title comes from.) Les Baxter, Roy Hamilton, and Al Hibbert all had big hit versions in 1955. A number of artists recorded it afterward, including Gerry Granahan of Dickey Doo & the Don'ts, who cut a weird rock 'n' roll version in 1961. 

The Righteous Brothers recorded their version in 1965 and it became a Top 5 hit. When a reissue of the song became a #1 hit in the UK in 1990, the group re-recorded the song, and the re-recording became a Top 20 hit in the US that same year. 

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