Hasn’t that title been done before?

I always found it a curious thing to do when artists would release new singles that have the identical title as a completely different well-known song by another artist.

R-2618914-1334682748.jpegCase in point:  “Missing You” was the title of a minor hit (peaking at #23) for Dan Fogelberg in 1982, and then John Waite soared to #1 with his own song called “Missing You” in 1984.  Later that same year, Diana Ross reached #10 with Lionel Richie’s “Missing You,” 220px-Missing_You_-_Diana_Rossa tribute to Marvin Gaye.

You’d think this might be confusing to the listening public, but apparently not, because it’s pretty remarkable how often this kind of thing has happened in rock music history, especially in the ’50s, ’60s, 70s and ’80s, and still occurs now and then in the more recent decades.

220px-The-eagles-best-of-my-love-1974-smallHere’s another:  “Best of My Love,” written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther, was The Eagles’ first #1 hit in the summer of 1974.  A completely different “Best of My Love,” 220px-Best_of_My_Love_-_The_Emotionscomposed by Maurice White and Al McKay, was also a #1 hit for the female disco group The Emotions in 1977.

Perhaps the duplication of a song title isn’t all that important if they’re in different genres (country rock versus disco, or hard rock versus MOR ballad).  In those cases, it’s possible, maybe likely, that the songwriter wasn’t even familiar with the other tune because it’s not in a genre he/she listens to much.

220px-Feel_Like_Makin'_Love_-_Roberta_FlackFeel Like Makin’ Love,” an R&B tune by Eugene McDaniels, was a big #1 hit for Roberta Flack in 1974, and then Paul Rodgers and Mick Ralphs of Bad 220px-BC_-_Makin_Love_singleCompany wrote a harder rocking, different “Feel Like Makin’ Love” that went to #10 in 1975.

Sometimes so many years have passed since the title’s first appearance that the songwriter, artist or record company feel confident there will be no confusion if a new song comes out with the same title as an earlier hit.  The great Roy Orbison reached #2 with his classic ballad “Only the Lonely” way back in 1959, so when Martha Davis, singer of New Wave group The Motels, came up with an unrelated song called “Only the Lonely” in 1982, nobody saw any reason it couldn’t also do well, and it reached #9 that year.

Of course, none of this touches on the fact that there often might be dozens of little-known songs (or classic rock tracks that never charted as singles) that share a title with better known hits.  “Heartbreaker” is an explosive album track by Led Zeppelin on their 600x600bf-41969 second LP, but you won’t find it on the Top 40 charts.  Instead you’ll find three different songs called “Heartbreaker” over the years:  a 1973 Jagger-Richards song, technically called “Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker),” that reached #15; Pat Benatar’s first hit in 1979 by two obscure British songwriters; and a Dionne Warwick number in 1983 written by the Gibb Brothers that made it to #10.

I found nearly 100 great examples of notable song titles that were used in multiple hit songs, and I’ve whittled that list down to 15 that I found really interesting.  Most of the rest I’ll merely list as a way of showing how prevalent the practice has-been in pop music.  No doubt readers will think of many I’ve neglected to mention.

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R-6183414-1413134514-8042.jpegHow about the simple title “Fire,” which has at least three hit songs bearing that title.  The Crazy World of Arthur Brown went first with their 1968 song, peaking at #2; then the Ohio Players with their dance track in 1975, a #1 hit; and then Bruce Springsteen’s smoldering tune (he wrote it for Elvis, who never got the chance to record it) was made into a #2 hit by the Pointer Sisters in 1979.  Actually, the first rock recording called “Fire” was a Jimi Hendrix tune from the “Are You Experienced?” debut LP in 1967.

the-association-cherish-1966-6Cherish” was an enormous #1 hit for The Association in 1966, followed nearly two decades later by Kool & The Gang’s own “Cherish” (#2), and then a third “Cherish” (#2) by Madonna in 1989.

Check out the different styles that use the title “Take Me Home,” first in a #8 hit by Cher in 1979, and then in a #7 pop smash by Phil Collins in 1986.

My Love,” as written by Tony Hatch (who also wrote “Downtown”), was a #1 for Petula Clark in 1966.  That didn’t stop Paul McCartney from writing his own tune called R-214319-1256309347.jpeg“My Love,” which topped the charts in 1973.

Three very different songs all shared the title “Call Me“:  First came the night-clubby ballad by Chris Montez in 1966, then the R&B #13 hit by Aretha Franklin in 1970, and finally the #1 New Wave sensation in 1980 by Blondie.

Most everyone knows Steely Dan’s #6 hit “Do It Again,” a Fagen-Becker original from 1972, but before that came a different “Do It Again,” a Brian Wilson-Mike Love ditty that was a #20 charter for The Beach Boys in 1968.

220px-Cover_for_Magic_by_The_CarsThe song title “Magic” showed up in three configurations:  Mid-’70s pop by Pilot (#5 in 1975); a chart-topper by Olivia Newton-John from the “Xanadu” soundtrack in 1980, and a #12 hit by Ric Ocasek for The Cars in 1984.

Photograph” was a #12 slab of heavy metal by Def Leppard in 1983, but first it was a George Harrison-penned tune that gave Ringo Starr a #1 hit in 1973.

220px-Venus_single_avalonHow about “Venus“?  That was a song title that reached #1 three times.  First, teen idol Frankie Avalon did it in 1959 with a #1 hit song written by Ed Marshall and Peter DiAngelis; but the title reappeared at #1 two more times on another song, this time written by Dutch songwriter Robbie Van Leeuwen.  First the Dutch band Shocking Blue topped the charts with it in 1970, and then the British female pop band Bananarama did its cover in 1986.

Joe Walsh was both a solo artist and a member of The Eagles in 1980 when he composed “All Night Long,” a #19 hit from the “Urban Cowboy” film soundtrack.  Three years later, Lionel Richie went to #1 with a different “All Night Long,” although it was technically 220px-Van_Halen_-_Jumpknown as “All Night Long (All Night).”

Jump” was such a humongous #1 hit for Van Halen in 1984 that The Pointer Sisters’ record label chose to alter the title of their own “Jump” the same year to “Jump (For My Love),” which still managed to reach #3.

The Pacific Northwest pop band Paul Revere and the Raiders had a #4 charting in 1966 with “Good Thing,” a Mark Lindsay-Terry Melcher tune.  More than 20 years later, Roland Gift and his Fine Young Cannibals wrote and recorded their own “Good Thing,” which topped the charts in 1989.

61xzloHm7CL._SY355_One of the more unusual duplications of a song title was “Shining Star,” because both compositions were bonafide R&B songs.   First came the Maurice White-Philip Bailey dance classic, a #1 hit for their group Earth, Wind & Fire in 1975.  Then in 1980, The Manhattans, a vocal group dating back to the early ’60s who were reborn with a new lead singer in the late ’70s, had a #5 hit with another “Shining Star,” written by Leo Graham and Paul Richmond.

220px-Lady_(Kenny_Rogers_song)We can’t forget the timeless title “Lady,” which appears on the top of the sheet music page for four different hit songs:  First came power pop band Styx’s number by Dennis DeYoung (#6 in 1975); and then, in rapid succession, Little River Band’s tune (#10 in 1979), the Lionel Richie-penned #1 smash in 1980 by Kenny Rogers, and The Commodores’ hit, technically called “Lady (You Bring Me Up),” and not to be confused with their tune “Three Times a Lady.”

220px-AerosmithAngelThe example I find most interesting is “Angel.” Check this out:  It’s the title of Aretha Franklin’s #20 hit in 1973, written by her sister Carolyn; it’s another hit song (#5) written by Madonna and Steve Bray for her “Like a Virgin” LP; and it’s a #3 hit song by Steven Tyler and Desmond Child for Aerosmith’s 1987 comeback.  But here’s the unique thing:  There are actually two Fleetwood Mac recordings of two different songs called “Angel”!  The first was by Bob Welch and appeared on their “Heroes are Hard to Find” LP in 1974, and the second was by Stevie Nicks on the group’s “Tusk” LP in 1979.

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Here are a few more honorable mentions to explore of “Same Title, Different Songs,” should the mood strike you:

Shout” — The Isley Brothers, 1959;  Tears for Fears, 1985

Somebody to Love” — Jefferson Airplane, 1967;  Queen, 1977

R-2804599-1319574005.jpegGood Times” — Sam Cooke, 1964;  Chic, 1979

Power of Love” — Joe Simon, 1972;  Huey Lewis and The News, 1985

Gloria” — Them/Shadows of Knight, 1965/66;  Laura Branigan, 1982

Real Love” — Doobie Brothers, 1980;  Jody Watley, 1989;  The Beatles, 1995

Games People Play” — Joe South, 1969;  Alan Parsons Project, 1981

220px-Money_1973One” — Three Dog Night, 1969;  Metallica, 1988;  The Bee Gees, 1989;  U2, 1991

It’s a Miracle” — Barry Manilow, 1975;  Culture Club, 1984

Money” — Barrett Strong, 1960;  Pink Floyd, 1973

Love Will Find a Way” — Pablo Cruise, 1978;  Yes, 1987

Baby Blue” — The Echoes, 1961;  Badfinger, 1972

America” — Simon and Garfunkel, 1968;  Neil Diamond, 1980

81qwjrsosgL._SX355_Runaway” — Del Shannon, 1961;  Jefferson Starship, 1978

So Far Away” — Carole King, 1971;  Dire Straits, 1985

I’m On Fire” — Dwight Twilley, 1975;  Bruce Springsteen, 1984

Hold On” — Ian Gomm, 1979;  Santana, 1982

Crazy Love” — Paul Anna, 1958;  Poco, 1979

It’s My Life” — The Animals, 1965;  Talk Talk, 1984

615hwueWjNL._SS500On the Road Again” — Canned Heat, 1968;  Willie Nelson, 1980

Nobody’s Fool” — Cinderella, 1987;  Kenny Loggins, 1988

Question” — Lloyd Price, 1960;  The Moody Blues, 1970

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I’ve prepared two Spotify playlists.  The first one compares the songs discussed in the main body of the blog post; the second one contrasts the tunes listed in the “honorable mentions.”

 

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Once in a lifetime, same as it ever was

Since the beginning of the rock music era, the dream of many artists was to have one big hit single.

Some artists, of course, had far greater ambitions — dozens of hit singles, several million-selling albums — superstars like The Beatles, Billy Joel, U2, Madonna, Elton John, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Queen, Diana Ross.

Other musicians didn’t seem to care about hit singles at all, instead setting their sights on big-selling LPs:  Jimi Hendrix, The Allman Brothers, Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Frank Zappa.

The groups who had just one big moment of fame have been derisively labeled “One-Hit Wonders.”  That is, they had one hugely successful song, but then seemed to disappear 1-hit-wonders2entirely from the public consciousness.

About half of these artists earned their dubious distinction for good reason:  They really didn’t have much talent in the first place.  They simply lucked out — once — with the right combination of ingredients, a kind of perfect storm:  An irresistibly catchy melody, a simple lyric, a memorable voice, an infectious hook, a distinctive studio production sound, a persuasive marketing push, an eager public and great timing all come together, and the result is a national (or worldwide) Top Five hit song.  Perhaps the songwriter and producer brought most of the talent to the party, and the artist didn’t really offer much.  Therefore, like catching lightning in a bottle, they found this feat nearly impossible to duplicate, and the band whose name appeared on the hit was never heard from again.  Here are a few:  Carl Douglas, Blues Magoos, Paper Lace, Zager and Evans, Terry Jacks, Strawberry Alarm Clock, Starland Vocal Band.

On the other hand, there are many “one-hit wonders” who deserved a much better fate.  They wrote/recorded many great songs and albums, but for reasons unclear, they images-26never achieved further success on the charts.  (Poor management/promotion, radio station indifference, record company blackballing, etc.). A few examples of this sad phenomenon are:  Karla Bonoff, Argent, Sanford and Townsend, Rickie Lee Jones, Golden Earring, Steve Forbert, Free.

You can find many reference books that explore this subject in great detail, including the one I own, The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders, first published in 1990 and covering the period from 1955 to 1984.  Other books limit their coverage to the Sixties, or Seventies, or more recent decades.

Below are 15 “one-hit wonders” that I’m singling out because I really liked them at the time of release, and I still enjoy hearing them today.  They’re catchy without being annoying, and they hint at the possibility that the artists may have done more good stuff worth exploring.

The Spotify list at the end includes all these songs, and I encourage you to search deeper and listen to other songs by some of these artists.  I’ll bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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R-1745808-1404061595-7025.jpeg“Fire,” Crazy World of Arthur Brown, 1968

Brown emerged from the British town of Leeds, and he pursued theatrical skills in London and Paris.  By 1968, he had formed The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, known for a prototype “shock rock” which influenced Alice Cooper, Kiss and other heavy metal bands of the ’70s.  His one moment in the sun was the organ-dominated “Fire,” which opened with him screaming, “I am the god of hellfire,” and later in the song, “You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn…”  It reached #1 in the UK and #2 in the US.  Brown was frontman for Kingdom Come, another British group, and also released a few solo LPs, but he never again made the charts in the US.

R-3473940-1501173395-6640.jpeg“Black is Black,” Los Bravos, 1966

The first Spanish group to make the Top Ten in the US, Los Bravos was based in Madrid.  They sought to make their mark in the European market making English-based pop music.  Their lead singer, the German-born Mike Kogel, had a vocal style that sounded a lot like Gene Pitney’s, so when their single “Black is Black” started getting radio play in the States, many US listeners thought it must be a new Pitney song.  That may have contributed to the success of the track, which reached #4 in the US in mid-1966 (and #2 in England).  Their follow-up, “I Don’t Care,” peaked at #16 in England but failed to make any impression in the US, nor did any of their subsequent releases.

61NBfOEkzYL._SY355_“All Right Now,” Free, 1970

One of the most notable thing about this accomplished blues rock band from England is that, upon their 1968 debut, all four members were under 18 years old.  By the time of their third LP, “Fire and Water,” they had the #2 album in the UK, and charted six Top Ten albums there during their reign.  That album reached #17 in the States, helped along by their 1970 monster hit single, “All Right Now,” which peaked at #4, Free’s only appearance on the US Top 40.  (“The Stealer,” the follow-up single from their next LP, stalled at #49.)  Following the band’s breakup in 1973, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke joined forces with guitarist Mick Ralphs from Mott the Hoople and Boz Burrell from King Crimson to form Bad Company, which far surpassed Free in sales and chart success throughout the ’70s and into the ’80s.

pilot-magic“Magic,” Pilot, 1974

This hit single, which reached #5 in the US in 1975, was a bit too cutesy for my taste, but I was impressed with their pedigree.  Singer David Paton, keyboardist Billy Lyall and guitarist Ian Bairnson, all from Scotland, combined forces with EMI producer Alan Parsons on Magic’s debut.  Although they never charted again in the US, their follow-up, “January,” went to #1 in the UK.  Paton and Bairnson went on to become regular contributors to the repertoire of The Alan Parsons Project, and participated on four US hit singles with that group in the 1980s — “Eye in the Sky” (#3), Games People Play” (#16 ), “Time” (#15 ) and “Don’t Answer Me” (#15 ).

MV5BMDE5MTU0ODgtNjQ4My00OGM2LThhNzctMzYzZDBiN2U5NmRlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzA5MzkyOTM@._V1_“99 Luftballons,” Nena, 1984

Gabriele Kerner, a German-born singer/songwriter/actress, took the stage name Nena, which also served as her band’s name, and their debut single, “99 Luftballons,” topped the charts in West Germany and throughout Europe in 1983.  They made the decision to record a second version, “99 Red Balloons,” with English lyrics (although not a direct translation of the original German) and watched it reach #1 across the British Isles and Canada.  Curiously, it was the German version that climbed to #2 in the US in 1984.  Radio personality Casey Kasem merged parts of each version to play on his syndicated program.  First with her band and then on her own, Nena went to chart 10 Top Five albums in Germany and Austria, but she never showed up again on US charts.

R-6113942-1411405941-4421.jpeg“Ooh Child,” The Five Stairsteps, 1970

Five siblings who comprised the Burke family made up the lineup of The Five Stairsteps, a Chicago-based soul vocal group developed with the help of R&B legend Curtis Mayfield.  The group enjoyed many Top 20 hits on the R&B charts between 1966 and 1980, but only one song made the Mainstream Top 40 — “O-o-h Child,’ which reached #8 in the summer of 1970 and ranked #402 on Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”  Keni Burke eventually signed with George Harrison’s Dark Horses label as a solo artist and went on to become an in-demand bass player for dozens of artists throughout the 1980s.

Hocus_Pocus_Focus“Hocus Pocus,” Focus, 1973

This Dutch band of progressive rock instrumentalists emerged in 1969 and had a solid run of success in 1971-1975 with albums in The Netherlands, England and, to a lesser extent, the US.  They are still an active band today playing small European venues, although with numerous personnel changes.  In 1971, their second LP, “Moving Waves” (also known as “Focus II”), included their best-known track, “Hocus Pocus,” which featured Deep Purple-ish fast guitar riffs and some startling yodeling instead of vocals.  At 6:42, it was too long to gain much traction as a single, but in the spring of 1973, Focus’s label truncated the track to a more radio-friendly 3:18, and became the group’s only hit in the US at #9.

Little_Girl_(Syndicate_of_Sound_album)“Little Girl,” Syndicate of Sound, 1966

This garage-rock band out of San Jose won a “battle of the bands” contest in the Bay Area in 1965, and the prize was the chance to record a single.  Unfortunately, “Prepare for Love” could muster only local airplay, but they were given a second chance, and band members Don Baskin and John Sharkey came up with “Little Girl,” which caught the ear of execs at Bell Records, who gave them a national distribution deal, and the song went to #8 in early 1966.  They won a spot on a tour with Paul Revere & The Raiders and The Young Rascals, but the Bell deal never amounted to anything else, and the Syndicate of Sound faded away.

MI0000392284“867-5309/Jenny,” Tommy Tutone, 1982

Guitarist/singer Tommy Heath and guitarist/keyboardist Jim Keller founded Tommy and the Tu-Tones in California in 1978, and by 1981, they shortened their name to Tommy Tutone and recorded “867-5309/Jenny,” a contagious song brought to them by songwriter Alex Call.  Peaking at #4 in early 1982, it became probably the most successful song in pop history to feature a phone number, but Tommy Tutone went in absentia from then on.  While the phone number has been eliminated in many parts of the country, it’s still a working number in a few places, and rock fans still delight in calling it now and then to ask for Jenny.

822571947“I Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” Elvin Bishop, 1976

Bishop was an integral member of the legendary Paul Butterfield Blues Band out of Chicago from 1964-1968.  He then began a solo career while also appearing and recording with other illustrious blues groups like The Allman Brothers, The Grateful Dead, John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley and B.B. King.  His solo albums never sold well but he had a decent following throughout the ’70s.  In 1976, he struck gold his one and only time with “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” a #3 hit that appeared on his 1975 LP “Struttin’ My Stuff.”  The single featured vocals by Mickey Thomas, who would become frontman for Jefferson Starship three years later.

55fe3db3fa3a4ea9c7799e8420873f47.939x954x1“Ride Captain Ride,” Blues Image, 1970

The Blues Image was a Tampa-based band formed in 1966 who moved on to Miami and then eventually Los Angeles, hoping for success. They were signed there by Atco Records, and released two albums, “Blues Image” and “Open” in 1969 and 1970.  From that second LP came “Ride Captain Ride,” a commercially appealing tune that rose all the way to #4 on US charts, but that was the extent of it as the band soon went their separate ways.  Several members went on to join other groups like Three Dog Night and Iron Butterfly, and the most notable alumnus of Blues Image was percussionist Joe Lala, who performed with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joe Walsh and Manassas, and appeared on Andy Gibbs’ #1 single “Shadow Dancing.”

brewer-and-shipley-one-toke-over-the-line-kama-sutra-3“One Toke Over the Line,” Brewer & Shipley, 1971

Among the many acoustic duo singer-songwriters in the early ’70s was this twosome from Missouri, who were known for tight harmonies and intricate acoustic guitar work, much like Seals and Crofts.  Mike Brewer and Tom Shipley achieved only modest success on the charts, except for the infamous “One Toke Over the Line,” the country-ish #10 song from 1971 with the obvious marijuana references.  Incredibly, a squeaky-clean duo called Dick and Dale performed the song on the ultra-straight “Lawrence Welk Show” that year, where it was described as a “modern spiritual”!  It’s there on YouTube if you want a good belly laugh.

Hold_Your_Head_Up_-_Argent“Hold Your Head Up,” Argent, 1972

Keyboardist Rod Argent was a pivotal member of The Zombies, a British band that had three big hits (“Tell Her No,” “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season”) in the ’60s, as well as the critically praised LP “Odessey and Oracle.”  He then went on to form Argent, which lasted for about four years, and enjoyed big success with their only hit, “Hold Your Head Up,” which reached #5 in the US in the summer of ’72.  The song still gets plenty of airplay today, and was covered by several bands in the late ’70s, including the Marc Tanner Band, Jellyfish and Mother Love Bone.  Argent’s bassist and drummer eventually became members of The Kinks in the 1980s.

220px-Edie_Brickell_-_What_I_Am_7-inch“What I Am,” Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, 1989

The “New Bo’s,” as they were affectionately called, made quite a wave in the Dallas clubs in the mid-’80s, especially after Edie Brickell joined as their lead singer.  Their first official LP, “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars,” was widely praised, reaching #4 on the US album charts.  The debut single from that LP, “What I Am,” was a #7 hit in early 1989.  But the band broke up the following year, and Brickell married the great Paul Simon in 1991.  Simon helped gather multiple veteran session musicians for Brickell’s excellent solo LPs, 1994’s “Picture Perfect Morning” and 2003’s “Volcano,” but both albums failed to generate airplay.  I encourage you to check them out!

2939-300“Pictures of Matchstick Men,” Status Quo, 1968

There have been a number of bands over the years who were huge in England but were virtually unknown in the States.  Perhaps the most remarkable example of this is Status Quo, who debuted in both countries in early 1968 with the psychedelic rock hit, “Pictures of Matchstick Men,” which peaked at #12 in the US and #2 in England.  That was the end of their chart success in the States, but Status Quo went on to set records that still stand today.  Once they switched from psychedelia to a boogie band, they have charted more than 20 Top Ten LPs in England and Europe, including four #1s between 1972 and 2016, and they have more than 60 singles, with 40 of them reaching the Top 20.  In the US, 99% of music listeners have likely never heard of them…

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Honorable mention:

(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet,” The Blues Magoos, 1967;  “Cool Jerk,” The Capitols, 1966;  “Get It On,” Chase, 1971;  “Evil Woman,” Crow, 1970;  “Come On Eileen,” Dexys Midnight Runners, 1984;   “Friday On My Mind,” Easybeats, 1967;  “Rock On,” David Essex, 1974;    “Precious and Few,” Climax, 1972; “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” Georgia Satellites, 1986;  “Dancing in the Moonlight,” King Harvest, 1973;  “Into the Night,” Benny Mardones, 1980;  “More Today Than Yesterday,” Spiral Starecase, 1969;  “Thunder and Lightning,” Chi Coltrane, 1972;  “Romeo’s Tune,” Steve Forbert, 1980.