Tuesday, October 29, 2013


For those of you not keeping up with this sort of thing, my HERE'S TO YOU post falls on Thursday the 31st.  Battle of the Bands is on the 1st of each month.  That is just not working out well for this blog.  So, I am going to run my Battle of The Bands post a few days early so that it isn't backing right up on my Thursday post.  Make sense?  Yeah, I thought so.

So, today is another face-off in Battle of The Bands.  Woohoo!

I am going to take just a moment and tell you that blogs, like life, simply do not go as planned.  I had a totally different match-up slated for today.  That all changed when I posted on Monday (Spin City).  At the end of that post I referenced some lyrics from the song I Heard It Through The Grapevine.  And then THAT song was on my brain.  I quite unintentionally did an Arlee Bird tease about my BOTB song.  Ha!

So I went on to Wikipedia to see what light it had to shed on this song.  The song was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966.  First to record it was Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, but Motown Owner, Berry Gordy, rejected it.  Marvin Gaye then recorded it but Berry Gordy rejected it.  Gladys Knight & The Pips recorded it and Berry Gordy decided that was the Winner!  It went to #2 on the Billboard charts.  They released it as a single in September 1967.  However, Marvin Gaye must have really liked the song because he added it to his 1968 album In The Groove.  Radio disc jockeys started playing the song and Gordy finally agreed to release it as a single.  It went to the top of the Billboard Pop Charts and stayed there for seven weeks AND became the biggest hit single on the Motown label.

As an aside, Credence Clearwater Revival (CCR) also recorded the song on their 1970 album Cosmo's Factory.  You can go listen to it if you want on YouTube.  It sounds very CCR.  Not saying that is a bad thing... or a particularly good thing, in the case of this song. (source)

Today's match-up is Marvin Gaye vs. Gladys Knight & The Pips.  Barry Gordy took a pass on Marvin Gaye's version in favor of Gladys & The Pips.  The public (by and large) disagreed with him, but that was back in the late 60s.  The question is this: Was Gordy right to choose Gladys & The Pips over Marvin Gaye????  Today, we will pretend that you are the owner of the Motown label.  Which version is better?  You be the judge!

The man who recorded it second... Marvin Gaye:

And Gordy's favorite... Gladys Knight & The Pips:

Remember YOU are the owner of Motown this time around, so vote in the comments.  And PLEASE tell me why you think one song is better than the other.  You have until the 7th to get your votes in... it will be in that week's Thursday post.

Blogs that will be posting Battle of The Bands on the 1st:
Far Away Series, FERRET-FACED FASCIST FRIENDS, Tossing It Out, DiscConnected,
and Alex J. Cavanaugh

I hope you check them all out.  In the case of the first three there are prizes to be won just for voting!


  1. I think I prefer Marvin Gaye's version.
    And I will be participating this Friday! Got a good one, pitting two remakes against each other...

  2. That's funny. I know the Marvin Gaye version much better but listening to them together, I like Gladys Knight's better. It had me bouncing.

  3. This is tough. I like voting for the original, but I like what Marvin Gaye did to the melody to make it his own. It's catchier than the original. He gets my vote.

    Be well, Robin.

  4. Have to go with my main man Marvin. He's just too awesome.

  5. I like Marvin Gaye's version above all others. :-)

  6. They each have a different vibe. I like the more traditional sound of Marvin's version.

  7. I was prepared to like Marvin's the best because I like him better than Gladys, but his version kind of dragged and the Knight version had more energy. I vote for Gladys.

    But I like the CCR version better. I had planned on eventually doing a match-up of this song, but it's probably better that you did it first since that CCR version is really long.

    But yeah, Gladys between your two choices.

    Tossing It Out

  8. I thought this was originally by the California Raisins...

    I jest, and wonder if anyone reading even remembers that commercial. But Marvin gets my vote.


  9. I have to go with Marvin. Larry really made me laugh.

  10. ROBIN ~
    When I saw you quote lyrics from ‘GRAPEVINE’ in your last blog bit, I was pretty damned certain that THIS would be your next song selection for ‘BOTB’, but I waited until just now to scratch it off my own list of future ‘BOTB’ match-ups.

    I had it scheduled as MARVIN GAYE VS. CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL, or... ‘BLACK SUCCINCT SOUL’ VS. ‘WHITE SUSTAINED SWAMP’. But I also like the way you turned it into a ‘Let’s Test Gordy’s Musical Instincts’ kind of thang.

    Well, I haven’t read ANY of the other comments here yet (will do that right after posting this one of mine), but it seems rather obvious to me – or to my musical tastes anyway – that this is pretty much a total no-brainer.

    Marvin Gaye’s version really digs in and cuts deeply; it’s Soul-deep even. Passionate vocals melded with a truly funky groove. Really good stuffs.

    I do like the way the Gladys Knight And The Pips introduce their version with that funky rhythmic percussion, but then it immediately becomes a much more slick, light, and commercial-sounding tune that never really comes close to conveying the depth of emotion that Marvin Gaye gets across in his strong vocal performance.

    For me, easy, easy win for Marvin Gaye! Never really close, although the Gladys Knight And The Pips version was enjoyable enough – nuttin’ wrong with it at all, but it was just overwhelmed by a much more soulful rendering of the tune.

    Now… I’m off to see if these folks above me agreed with my take on this.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

  11. LC ~
    Ha! Yeah, I certainly do remember that commercial. You know, that group sang fairly well for a bunch of dried up, old grapes.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  12. I think I'm stuck. In my head the only versions are Credence and Marvin Gaye's.

  13. Marvin Gaye was so talented, but I have to go with Gladys Knight and The Pips for this song. Gladys really had the pipes, and the Pips provided the perfect back up for Grapevine. I also liked Larry's comment about The California Raisins!


  14. It's funny how the first version you hear becomes THE version. I didn't even know Gladys Knight did that song. Marvin Gaye all the way for me though. So smooth and sexy the way he did it.

  15. Whew, I like Gladys Knight, but not that version of the song. I'm going with Marvin for this one, hands down. I love his version!

  16. I was going to wait until Friday when I voted on the other sites, but then I realized that this would be covered over by your Thursday post.

    I had forgotten about the Gladys Knight version and found that I liked it quite a bit, but Marvin is so smooth and sexy (besides his version reminds me more of the California raisins - Ha!) that he gets my vote.

  17. Although I love Gladys, I must go with Marvin.

  18. ROBIN ~
    Oh, my gosh! The suspense is simply KILLING ME!

    Who do you suppose is going to win this Battle Of The Bands? I just can't wait to find out.


    Maybe you should have made it Gladys Knight And The Pips Vs. The California Raisins. It might have been a closer contest. Well, Gladys HAS gotten a few votes here, so it's not as one-sided as my Fleetwood Mac Vs. The Rockets contest where (if I recall correctly) I was the ONLY voter who preferred The Rockets.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  19. Gladys and the Pips give a really version, with an infectious beat. It's definitely the one that gets the toe tappin'. But Marvin's is so real and heart-felt! It's much more understated and effective that way, I think.

    So I vote Marvin.

  20. Gladys Knight wins my vote. Of course, Marvin Gaye's version is hard to beat.


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