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NFT: Todd Rundgren's, "Hello It's Me" from 1969 to 1973

M.S. : 6/11/2021 12:07 pm

This may resonate with a few Baby Boomers out there.

I was looking at Todd Rundgren's discography and to my surprise, his hit song, "Hello It's Me," only reached #66 on the charts.

But that seemed way wrong to me since you couldn't turn on the radio in the early 70s without hearing this song -- it played 24/7!

Well, turns out there's more to it! Back in the late 60's Todd Rundgren and his group Nazz first released this song. Here is the link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmLnDL_pNZQ

All I can say is that the 1969 version ain;t too pretty! Why? Because it's too damn slow. Way too slow.

So, four years later, Todd Rundgren sped it up and scored a huge hit that reached #5 in 1973. (link at bottom)

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least two other covers that sped the original version up and into stardom:

(1) Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talking," original written and sung by Fred Neil;

(2) Glenn Campbell's "Gentle On My Mind," original written and sung by John Hartford.


Link - ( New Window )
My friend Ratso  
Big Al : 6/11/2021 12:16 pm : link
liked that (1) song.
Never knew about the earlier version. Nice find!  
81_Great_Dane : 6/11/2021 12:33 pm : link
Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" had a somewhat similar story. The original track had just their voices and acoustic guitar, I think. It didn't perform. The producer added drums and electric guitar. Boom, hit record.

Link below. Sounds pretty much the same until about 40 seconds in.

IIRC the original was released on one of their albums in addition to the "hit" version.
Sound of Silence original version - ( New Window )
RE: Never knew about the earlier version. Nice find!  
M.S. : 6/11/2021 1:07 pm : link
In comment 15284621 81_Great_Dane said:
Quote:
Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" had a somewhat similar story. The original track had just their voices and acoustic guitar, I think. It didn't perform. The producer added drums and electric guitar. Boom, hit record.

Link below. Sounds pretty much the same until about 40 seconds in.

IIRC the original was released on one of their albums in addition to the "hit" version. Sound of Silence original version - ( New Window )

Interesting! I wonder if it was Hal Blaine on the drums? I'm pretty sure he backed Simon & Garfunkel on "Mrs. Robinson."
A little later but...  
Gap92 : 6/11/2021 1:20 pm : link
I believe Depeche Mode's classic "Enjoy the Silence" started as a slow, gloomy half-time Martin Gore ballad before someone (Alan Wilder?) suggested changing it to the tempo/feel we know now.
Actually that sort of thing has gone on almost forever.  
Red Dog : 6/11/2021 1:29 pm : link
Consider the popular song "Blue Moon."

Originally written in the 1930s for Jean Harlow to sing as a slow lament in a movie, it was never used in the flick. So it just sat for a while.

First released months later by Connie Boswell (one of the popular Boswell Sisters act), again as a slow song, it became a serious hit for her. (She's quite a story in her own right.)

After being recorded by a who's who of popular singers, it was finally done at the end of the 1950's as a do-wop number by the Marcells. That became a huge hit despite a great deal of controversy over the change of tempo and re-working into a rock and roll number. To this day it is one of my favorite do-wop records.

There's really a whole lot more intersting stuff to the history of this great number, including multiple wording re-writes that were not exactly voluntary by lyricist Lorenz Hart, but it shows that the re-record slow to fast thing is not new by any means.

I'll also point out that fast to slow also works. Neil Sadaka had a huge hit with "Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do" in the early 60's, and redid the song a decade later in a slow version that was also a hit as listeners recalled how great the first version was and how well it translated into the slower version.
RE: Actually that sort of thing has gone on almost forever.  
M.S. : 6/11/2021 1:41 pm : link
In comment 15284670 Red Dog said:
Quote:
Consider the popular song "Blue Moon."

Originally written in the 1930s for Jean Harlow to sing as a slow lament in a movie, it was never used in the flick. So it just sat for a while.

First released months later by Connie Boswell (one of the popular Boswell Sisters act), again as a slow song, it became a serious hit for her. (She's quite a story in her own right.)

After being recorded by a who's who of popular singers, it was finally done at the end of the 1950's as a do-wop number by the Marcells. That became a huge hit despite a great deal of controversy over the change of tempo and re-working into a rock and roll number. To this day it is one of my favorite do-wop records.

There's really a whole lot more intersting stuff to the history of this great number, including multiple wording re-writes that were not exactly voluntary by lyricist Lorenz Hart, but it shows that the re-record slow to fast thing is not new by any means.

I'll also point out that fast to slow also works. Neil Sadaka had a huge hit with "Breakin' Up Is Hard To Do" in the early 60's, and redid the song a decade later in a slow version that was also a hit as listeners recalled how great the first version was and how well it translated into the slower version.

"Blue Moon": From Rogers and Hart in 1934 to The Marcels in 1961! Wow... how that song evolved!
Battle Hymn of the Republic  
DCOrange : 6/11/2021 3:32 pm : link
was originally a reggae dancehall number.
I was aware of the early Nazz version  
Dr. D : 6/11/2021 3:42 pm : link
heard it one time, 25 or so years ago. It is painfully slow. Good move by Todd to re-record it. The new faster version along w Light in Your Eyes, made '73 a good year for Todd ($$).

I saw Todd do a 1 man concert years ago, in Philly. Talented guy.
Hello  
butler : 6/11/2021 3:57 pm : link
The solo version by Todd is faster but I think the vocal and the arrangement being a million times better were a factor as well (that organ, the background vocals and horns by the Brecker brothers!) :) Fun fact: one of the background singers was Vicki Sue "Turn the Beat Around" Robinson.

I can think of a lot great covers that sped the song up and were great (like every Ramones cover) but not many where the cover was a bigger hit.

CSNY's cover of Joni Mitchell's Woodstock for sure. I think Blondie's version of Hanging on the Telephone is a little faster then original by The Nerves.
If anyone remembers the song 'Wonderful Summer'  
MOOPS : 6/11/2021 4:51 pm : link
from 1963, the song was actually speeded up by wrapping splicing tape around the capstan.

In 1963, songwriter-producer Perry Botkin Jr. hired Jackie Ward to make a demo recording of "Wonderful Summer", a song he wrote with co-writer and co-producer Gil Garfield.[3] The purpose of a demo is to persuade "name" singers to record a song by demonstrating how it might be done. After recording Ward's vocal at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, Botkin thought it might sound better if her voice was higher-pitched, so he sped up the recording by wrapping splicing tape around the capstan of the machine. Botkin realized the finished recording, with bird and surf sound effects added, was good enough to release as a pop music single. But because the sped-up singing sounded younger than 21-year-old Jackie Ward, she suggested using her daughter's first name Robin on the record label. That fall, "Wonderful Summer" was released by Dot Records as a 45rpm single. Sales exceeded one million copies in the United States, propelling the record to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Jackie (Robin) Ward went on to have a long career in the recording industry, though few have ever heard of her.
Link - ( New Window )
Never knew that about the original Hello It's Me  
montanagiant : 6/11/2021 5:37 pm : link
The only song IMO that was better played slow was "It's a Mad World" by Tears for Fears.

The slower version by Gary Jules is much more of a haunting type song and a damn good music vid
Slowed down Mad World - ( New Window )
MOOPS - thanks for the info.  
Red Dog : 6/11/2021 6:34 pm : link
Serius XM has it on the current playlist for the 60s channel. I heard it the other day, the first time I've heard it on the air anywhere since it was originally popular, and I just said "wow!" as a result.

And I do have that record in my collection.
Interesting Info....  
John In CO : 6/11/2021 7:57 pm : link
used to love this song when I was a kid. Bought the 45 when I was 10....and its still back there in my den. Just makes me think that the music many of listened to as kids is SO much different from what is out there now. So much variety; ive got 45's by Marvin Gaye, the Ojays, Stylistics and the Spinners right alongside the Stones, Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, etc....
Went to a show of his in the 80s  
GmanND : 6/12/2021 1:11 am : link
Most memorable part was a woman standing on her seat jumping up and down yelling "Todd is God" over and over...
I guess you can say that  
M.S. : 6/12/2021 6:28 am : link

a tad (not to mention infused with some dramatic soul) before it became a real hit!

The original by the Top Notes had a Latin rhythm to it and was produced by Phil Spector. Here it is (and IMHO just ain't that good):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cmmap4L8-oM

Then, of course, there was The Isley Brothers version (link at bottom) which I still feel -- 50+ years later -- tops The Beatles rendition. Then, again, both are head and shoulders above the original.

Link - ( New Window )
I guess you can say that Twist and Shout  
M.S. : 6/12/2021 6:31 am : link

had to be slowed down a tad (not to mention infused with some dramatic soul) before it became a real hit!

The original by the Top Notes had a Latin rhythm to it and was produced by Phil Spector. Here it is (and IMHO just ain't that good):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cmmap4L8-oM

Then, of course, there was The Isley Brothers version (link at bottom) which I still feel -- 50+ years later -- tops The Beatles rendition. Then, again, both are head and shoulders above the original.



Link - ( New Window )
"Baby It's You" by The Shirelles  
M.S. : 6/12/2021 6:47 am : link

made it all the way to #8 in 1961. Here it is, although I gotta say I'm not a fan of their version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKgkDxnG9Z8

It took a white girl, Gayle McCormick, fronting a band called SMITH, to propel this song to new heights in 1969 (see link at bottom) with a blues/soul version that can't be found in either The Shirelles' (or Beatles') version.
Link - ( New Window )
RE: Went to a show of his in the 80s  
Dr. D : 6/12/2021 11:11 am : link
In comment 15285152 GmanND said:
Quote:
Most memorable part was a woman standing on her seat jumping up and down yelling "Todd is God" over and over...

That reminds me of when I saw Ron Wood in a pretty small venue in Philly. The most memorable part was a guy in front of me jumping up and down yelling "I've got a woody!".

It was amusing, the first time..

Stupid drunk philthadelphians.
RE: I guess you can say that Twist and Shout  
Dr. D : 6/12/2021 11:16 am : link
In comment 15285162 M.S. said:
Quote:

had to be slowed down a tad (not to mention infused with some dramatic soul)

Then, of course, there was The Isley Brothers version (link at bottom) which I still feel -- 50+ years later -- tops The Beatles rendition. Then, again, both are head and shoulders above the original.

Link - ( New Window )

Interesting, I wrongly assumed the Isley Brothers version was the orig. I agree that's the best. I want to listen to it today!
RE: RE: I guess you can say that Twist and Shout  
M.S. : 6/12/2021 1:03 pm : link
In comment 15285269 Dr. D said:
Quote:
In comment 15285162 M.S. said:


Quote:



had to be slowed down a tad (not to mention infused with some dramatic soul)

Then, of course, there was The Isley Brothers version (link at bottom) which I still feel -- 50+ years later -- tops The Beatles rendition. Then, again, both are head and shoulders above the original.

Link - ( New Window )


Interesting, I wrongly assumed the Isley Brothers version was the orig. I agree that's the best. I want to listen to it today!

I'm in your boat. It took decades before I realized it wasn't the Isley Brothers who did Twist and Shout first. A good buddy of mine tipped me off to Phil Spector and the Top Notes. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard the original. I was like, "What the...."
RE: MOOPS - thanks for the info.  
MOOPS : 6/12/2021 2:10 pm : link
In comment 15284956 Red Dog said:
Quote:
Serius XM has it on the current playlist for the 60s channel. I heard it the other day, the first time I've heard it on the air anywhere since it was originally popular, and I just said "wow!" as a result.

And I do have that record in my collection.


Yup, that was a classic little song that sold well and was popular for a short time and then just fell by the wayside.
It gets resurrected every now and then during the summer.
Todd Rundgren was the only one who was willing to produce  
Adam G in Big D : 6/12/2021 4:31 pm : link
Jim Steinman and Meatloaf.
Isley Brothers also  
BigBlue2007 : 6/12/2021 9:06 pm : link
Sing Hello It’s Me
RE: Isley Brothers also  
M.S. : 6/13/2021 6:47 am : link
In comment 15285504 BigBlue2007 said:
Quote:
Sing Hello It’s Me

Here's the link below.

I'm a huge Isley Brothers fan... "Shout"; "Twist and Shout"; "This Old Heart Of Mine"; "It's Your Thing"; "Who's That Lady"; "Fight The Power".

But I mostly stayed away from their slow stuff.

Link - ( New Window )
A couple more covers  
M.S. : 6/13/2021 8:17 am : link

I grew up on Manfred Mann's, "Doo Wah Diddy Diddy." It's a classic and still sounds great today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43vOAw2sAFU

But wait a minute! The Exciters did the original one year before in 1963. Who knew? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KzRY2ando4


And in 1979, the incomparable Linda Ronstadt belted out "Just One Look": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOjCPXtlBac

But 16 years earlier, Doris Troy scored a Top 10 with the original version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI3OYR_XM0w




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