Monday, January 14, 2008

Black and White Covers

Before the days of mass marketing, music was a regional affair. Most music on the radio was performed live by local musicians. Many small record labels kept the local markets supplied with the latest tunes performed by local artists.

When a song proved to be popular in one area, record companies would rush to issue the same song performed by one
of their local artists. As royalties, when paid, were due to the copyright owner (usually the record producer), not the song’s writer or original performer, this arrangement worked perfectly well for many years.

This was also a profitable way for the record companies to sell the same song (which they already owned the rights to) to a wider audience. One of the most common ways that record companies would make money from the same song was to take a popular song from one category of their catalog and have it recorded by an artist from another category. Songs from the record company’s popular songs catalog were often recorded by hillbilly artists and race artists and released under the appropriate section of the catalog. The most commonly covered songs were from the race record section of the catalogs. These songs were reworked to appeal to a different audience and recorded by the top selling artists from the hillbilly or country catalog.

Today being the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday, I thought we’d take a look at a few of the records that were hits as either race or hillbilly records and were covered by artists from another style, providing the record label with twice the sales, and unwittingly helped to mix the various styles that would eventually lead to rock-n-roll.

The Dominoes - Sixty Minute Man.mp3

Roberta Lee & Hardrock Gunter - Sixty Minute Man.mp3

Hank Williams - My Bucket's Got A Hole In It.mp3

Fat Man Robinson - My Bucket's Got A Hole In It.mp3


Blogger eli said...


Just found your blog. I love it! That's awesome that you put together comparisons of different versions of the same song. That's always something I enjoy. However- maybe its just my computer but I can't get them to play, the examples won't load up.

Thanks for your work-


January 16, 2008 12:35 AM  
Blogger Ed said...

Welcome aboard, Eli. It seems that the servers where the music files are hosted are down for maintenance. Check back in a day or two.

January 16, 2008 6:46 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

This practice created what were called standards that everyone covered. You just do not see this today except maybe with people covering the Beatles. This is a great site and I will be stopping back.

Bill C

January 23, 2008 1:48 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Welcome aboard, Bill, and thanks for the kind words.

January 23, 2008 7:18 PM  

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