Saturday, October 5, 2019

Various Artists - Covered: Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, Volume 3, 1962-1978

Here's the third and last of three volumes containing the best songs from the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

If you look at the mp3 tags, the first nine songs are from 1962 or 1963. The last eight songs cover a much greater time range, 1964 to 1978. What happened? For one thing, the Beatles hit it big in early 1964, totally changing the music scene. But also, most successful songwriters tend to have a "golden age" or a decade or two, followed by a long, slow decline. This follows that pattern.

In putting this series together, I haven't limited myself to songs co-written by Leiber and Stoller. If either of them were credited, or if there were others as well, I figure those songs are fair game too. One example of that is the country classic "Jackson," which was co-written by Leiber, but not Stoller.

An unusual song from a songwriting point of view is another all-time classic, "On Broadway." It was originally written by the great team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. However, they showed it to Leiber and Stoller, and they made major changes, so all four of them were credited. I'll post a "Covered" series for Mann and Weil later, and I would prefer not to put the exact same version of the same song on both. So I'm putting the Drifters' version on the Mann and Weil series, and I'm putting George Benson's version on this one. Both artists had big hits with the song. The same exact thing happened with "Only in America," so I'm putting different versions on this volume and the Mann and Weil series.

01. Ruby Baby (Dion)
02. I [Who Have Nothing] (Ben E. King)
03. Bossa Nova Baby (Elvis Presley)
04. My Heart Said [The Bossa Nova] (Irene Reid)
05. Searchin' (Hollies)
06. I'm a Woman (Peggy Lee)
07. Only in America (Drifters)
08. Poison Ivy (Rolling Stones)
09. Drip Drop (Dion)
10. Down Home Girl (Alvin Robinson)
11. Past, Present and Future (Shangri-Las)
12. Jackson (Johnny Cash & June Carter)
13. D. W. Washburn (Monkees)
14. Is That All There Is (Peggy Lee)
15. Some Cats Know (Peggy Lee)
16. Pearl's a Singer (Elkie Brooks)
17. On Broadway (George Benson)

As I did with Volume 2, in order to use a good color photo, I had to resort to a photo that's outside the time period in question. I believe this photo is from 1987. Leiber is on the right.


  1. In case you're curious, here are the songwriters I plan to cover in this series. I might add more, if anyone has any good suggestions.

    Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil
    Burt Bacharach & Hal David
    Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman
    Graham Gouldman
    Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich
    Jerry Goffin & Carole King
    Jimmy Webb
    Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff
    Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
    Norman Whitfield & Barrett Strong
    Otis Blackwell
    Smokey Robinson

    Note that for Goffin and King, I'm not including any performances by King. And for Smokey Robinson, I'm avoiding all performances by Robinson, with or without the Miracles. Ditto with Jimmy Webb doing his own songs, and Graham Gouldman too (with or without 10cc). Additionally, for Bacharach and David, I'm avoiding all performances by Dionne Warwick. Her greatest hits is basically a Bacharach and David greatest hits, and I figure any fan of Bacharach's stuff would have all those versions already.

  2. Gotta say of all the stuff I've seen you do so far, these albums, along with compilations of Kristy MacColl and Dusty Springfield are the best. I can't believe no one ever did this before. And I can't believe you didn't think of a Lennon-McCartney one. Other good ones would be Jackie DeShannon, Randy Newman, Brian Wilson and Laura Nyro.

    1. Thanks! It's great to hear at least one person enjoys this type of compilation.

      As for not doing a Lennon-McCartney one, that hadn't occurred to me, because wouldn't that just be a Beatles compilation? And that's been done a million times. But now that I think about that, it might be interesting to do that except limit it to just hit covers. And I could do the same for Bob Dylan, possibly.

      As for the others, I should check. I'm not sure if there are enough prominent covers to make it doable (if you don't include their own versions). Like with Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys do his songs so well that I don't think there are a lot of great cover versions.

    2. There are a bunch of songs that Lennon-McCartney wrote that weren't done by them. "World Without Love" was one. The only downside to that is that these compilations have been done with the original versions, though there have been other versions of some of these songs done as well. Maybe that would be a place to go if you decided to do a L-McC compilation. And let me repeat again the Kirsty MacColl and Dusty Springfield (especially the TV appearances sets) have been relevations. So keep up the great work and thank you for what you decide going forward.

    3. That's true, but there's already a great compilation called "The Songs the Beatles Gave Away." Most of those songs were only done by the first artist, who usually had a hit with it.

      That said, I'm thinking about doing a compilation of other artists who had hits with Lennon-McCartney songs, including some of the ones the Beatles gave away.

      Also, I've thought about the other artists you mentioned. I think I could do Laura Nyro. A lot of other people had hits with her songs, and she hardly had any. But for the other artists you mentioned, I don't see enough popular covers.

    4. I would think Randy Newman would also be an easy one. Harry Nilsson did a full album of Randy Newman. (There's a bunch of Randy Newman covers on Spotify, too.) Good luck, though. :)

    5. I've been thinking about your suggestion, and decided that Randy Newman is doable. Thanks for getting me to rethink that.