Battle of the Bands: I Heard It Through the Grapevine

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It’s time for another Battle of the Bands. First though, I’d like to say a heartfelt Thank You to all my BOTB friends, my old friends and now my newfound friends who faithfully came by and visited my A-Z posts. I so appreciated your visits!

Since I did my A-Z on classic TV show theme songs and intros from the 60s and 70s, it seems only fitting that I’m in a Motown frame of mind so I thought I’d feature one of my favorite songs. Give a listen to the two contenders and vote which one you like best. I’ll post the results in 6 days!

“I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield on Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967; it went to number two in the Billboard chart.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles included their version on their 1968 album, Special Occasion. The Marvin Gaye version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label (Tamla).

The Gaye recording has since become an acclaimed soul classic, and in 2004, it was placed on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the commemorative 50th Anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Marvin Gaye’s “Grapevine” was ranked 65th. It was also inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant” value.

In addition to being released several times by Motown artists, the song has been recorded by a range of musicians including Creedence Clearwater Revival, who made an eleven-minute interpretation for their 1970 album, Cosmo’s Factory; and has been used twice in television commercials – each time using session musicians recreating the style of the Marvin Gaye version: the 1985 Levi’s commercial, “Launderette”, featuring male model Nick Kamen, and the 1986 California raisins promotion with Buddy Miles as the singer for the clay animation group “The California Raisins.”  I remember the California Raisins commercial! Do you?

 

For today’s battle, I’m pitting the two best-known versions against each other: Marvin Gaye vs. Creedence Clearwater Revival. If I’m correct in my assumption, this should be a tight battle. I know I’m going to have a tough time choosing my favorite because I love both of them.

CONTENDER #1:

MARVIN GAYE: Marvin Gaye (April 2, 1939 – April 1, 1984) was an American soul singer, songwriter, and musician. Gaye helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, including How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) and I Heard It Through the Grapevine, and duet recordings with Mary Wells, Kim Weston, and Tammi Terrell, later earning the titles Prince of Motown and Prince of Soul.

On April 1, 1984, Gaye’s father, Marvin Gay Sr., fatally shot him at their house in the West Adams district of Los Angeles. Since his death, many institutions have posthumously bestowed Gaye with awards and other honors—including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Source: Wikipedia)

Here is Marvin Gaye’s version of I Heard It Through the Grapevine:

 

CONTENDER #2:

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL: Creedence Clearwater Revival, often shortened to Creedence and abbreviated as CCR, was an American rock band active in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The band consisted of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. Their musical style encompassed the roots rock, swamp rock, and blues rock genres. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they portrayed a Southern rock style, with lyrics about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River, and other popular elements of Southern US iconography, as well as political and socially-conscious lyrics about topics including the Vietnam War.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s music is still a staple of US radio airplay; the band has sold 26 million albums in the United States alone. CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and are included in Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

Their album Cosmo’s Factory was released in July 1970, and included an eleven-minute jam of the 1968 Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” – a hit when an edited version was released as a single in 1976. (Source: Wikipedia)

I’m providing two videos here: one of CCR performing the shortened single version and the other is the 11-minute album version, provided for your enjoyment. You can choose to watch either video, just depending on how much time you have to spend with this battle:

 

11 minute version:

 

I had to add this, for the sake of nostalgia. Here is one of the California Raisins commercials utilizing the song. I especially liked this particular spot which is from, I believe, 1986. (Hope it loads!):

 

TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why?

And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:

I’ll be back in 6 days to post the results. Thanks for voting!

 

 

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43 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands: I Heard It Through the Grapevine

    • Hey Girl, I’m surprised to see you here already! Thanks for coming by! Yeah, I’m a huge CCR fan too but I still don’t know who I’m voting for because I’m also a Marvin Gaye fan. 🙂
      I’ve got you down for CCR. Thanks for your vote!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Mary. Thanks for coming by to vote. I’ll put you down for Marvin! And I’ll definitely be by tomorrow to vote in your battle…

      Like

    • Marvin’s hard to beat for sure. But this contest might be a shakeup.
      Thanks for coming by and voting Erika. I have you down for Marvin…

      Like

  1. Hi, Michele!

    Long time no see! 🙂

    “Grapevine” is one of the few popular songs I can think of that was released as a single by three different artists resulting in all three versions becoming hits and, moreover, qualifying as classics.

    I think the generation gap between us is showing a bit here as well as a regional consideration, because the two best known and most popular versions of “Grapevine” at the Shady Dell and in Central PA were the ones by Gladys Knight & the Pips and Marvin Gaye. The Pips’ version was preferred by 4 out of 5 Dell rats and remains my favorite. Had it been offered in your BOTB today, I would have voted for it. I don’t remember hearing the CCR version on the radio in my region and I didn’t become familiar with it until years later when I finally broke down and bought Cosmo’s Factory at the height of my vinyl album collecting phase. I never heard the version by The Miracles until just now, on YouTube, and I didn’t like it very much.

    Turning to the two versions in your battle, let me emphasize that both versions are great, one a soul classic and the other a swamp rock classic. Even so, this is in easy decision for me. In my opinion, CCR’s 11 minute album track is overindulgent – way too much of a good thing – and the 45 edit can’t compare to Marvin’s masterpiece which features Gaye’s passionate, almost strained vocal treatment, the sweet sound of the Andantes’ backing singers and the Detroit strings.

    My enthusiastic vote goes to Marvin’s monster which runs a close second to the Pips’ original.

    Marvin Gaye was shot to death a couple of weeks after I moved from PA to Florida. I was working as a news producer at the time and was horrified when the 5 bells sounded on the AP and UPI wire service machines and they proceeded to print out the headline and details of his murder. Three-and-a-half years earlier, the same thing happened the night John Lennon was assassinated. I was one of the first to know about it because I was producing the 11 o’clock newscast and read the flash on the wires. I didn’t have to “hear it through the grapevine.”

    Thank you, dear friend Michele. I hope the month of May is a good one for you, your folks and your dogs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • “preferred by 4 out of 5 Dell rats”: Did you do the poll?? 🙂 That just struck me as funny, as in “4 out of 5 dentists prefer Colgate” or whatever it is. Lol But I totally believe you.

      It is neat that the song was a chart-topping hit by three different artists.

      That’s really something that you were on the news desk when both those tragic events occurred. That is the one very cool thing about being in news: being the first to know something when it happens.

      Thanks for your vote Shady. I’m glad you like both versions and I have you down for a resounding Yes to that Prince of Motown, Marvin Gaye!

      Have a great week, my friend!

      Like

  2. This one’s very easy. Gaye’s version is great, but for my taste CCR’s version is greater–and definitely the 11 minute version. This along with “Suzy Q” are some of CCR’s best stuff. I used to listen to their version of “Grapevine” so much. Swamp rock boogie greatness.

    CCR for me.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • CCR it is! Thanks for coming by to vote Lee.
      Suzy Q was another great. So many greats by CCR. Loved them as I was coming up. They were a favorite of mine. That’s why this battle is going to be tough for me…

      Like

  3. MICHELE ~
    I sure do remember The California Raisins commercial. Pretty funny and one of those commercials once seen, never forgotten.

    Great Battle! I really dig both recordings, but overall I’m a bigger fan of Marvin Gaye’s later stuffs. The albums ‘WHAT’S GOING ON?’ and ‘LET’S GET IT ON’ are absolute classics! But ‘COSMO’S FACTORY’ is a classic, too. And I grew up hearing it because my Ma owned it.

    I’m gonna side with CCR in this contest. I love that Swamp Funk, and I love the way Fogerty makes it sound like he’s singing “I HATE it through the grapevine”, and there’s just too many 11-minute listening sessions logged into my brain now to change horses in mid-swamp.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. Well, you certainly can’t change horses mid-swamp, my friend!
      Glad you liked my battle. This is a really tough one for me and I’m still undecided. It’s going to break my heart going against either one of them.

      I was going to post the California Raisins and I forgot! I’m going to go add them in at the end of the post now. They’re too darn cute not to have here… 🙂

      I’ve got you down for CCR. Thanks for coming by to vote Stephen. And thanks for sharing your Bay Street stories. Love them! We would’ve totally been hangout buddies back in the day, I just know it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • “ain’t shabby”: so the truth! Thanks for voting Lee. I have you down for those swamp rock boys Creedence Clearwater Rival!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Michele,

    Congratulations on surviving the A-Z!

    This is a tough one for me… ‘tight battle’ might prove to be an understatement. I am a huge Motown fan and never thought anyone could top Marvin Gaye’s version… but then I saw CCR in concert and their version woke up something new for me. Maybe now, I’m a swamp queen, (Ha!)

    My vote goes to CCR. have fun with your battle!

    I posted a battle today – come play!

    @dcrelief frpm

    dcrelief – Battle of the Bands

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Dixie! thanks for being a Holton’s Minion. That was cool, wasn’t it?
      Thanks for coming by to vote. You’re so lucky to have seen CCR in concert! What a show that must have been!
      Okay, I’ve got you down for CCR.

      Like

    • CCR was so a part of my partying days! They have amazing sound for sure.
      Thanks for your vote Birgit. Gotcha down for Creedence.

      Like

    • Hey Daniel, Good to see you here for my battle! You grew up near Detroit, yeah? Where do you live now? Thanks so much for coming by and voting! I have you down for Marvin.

      Like

    • Oops, never mind. I know you live in Nashville now. You told me the other day! (Can I claim A-Z brain death??) 🙂

      Like

  5. Okay, it’s time for a confession: I love the Marvin Gaye version so much there is no fair chance for any other version to beat him. Shame, shame! How closed minded of me! What in the world is wrong with me.

    To recap: MARVIN GAYE!

    Nice one, girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • So how do you feel about Marvin Gaye? 🙂
      It’s Marvin Gaye all the way for you Cherdo. Gotcha down.
      Thanks for coming by to vote

      Like

  6. I love CCR and I love Marvin Gaye. Richard and I used to dance to this song. Especially the 11 minute version. But I have to vote for Marvin Gaye. I love his voice and how smooth he sounds when he sings !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a long song to dance too. Another one I used to dance to was the long version of In A Gadda Da Vida! THAT was one long song! Thanks for voting Paula. I have you down for Marvin.

      Like

  7. I love this song. I’m a CCR fan, but not on this song. Marvin Gaye’s smooth and sexy sound gets my vote. I’ve never heard the CCR version before. I remember Gladys Knight and the Pips’ recording. It was great.

    Love,
    Janie

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I was able to introduce you to the CCR version of this song. Especially the 11 minute version. Thanks for your vote Janie. I have you down for Mr Marvin…

      Like

  8. Grape – Hmmm, difficult word.
    Okay, my video for today.
    Death Cab for Cutie – Grapevine Fires

    Oh wait, we are done with that. Aren’t we?
    Sorry I got carried away.
    CCR is a great band. I like much of their music. But when I hear this song, I only think Marvin Gaye. It’s his song so I’m giving him the vote. And yes, I like it better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol Jeffrey! Yep, me too, still brain-dead… 🙂
      Hey, that’s a great song. Thanks for introducing me to Death Cab for Cutie. I love their sound.

      And thanks for your vote. I’ve got you down for the mighty Marvin…

      Like

  9. Michele, I love this song! This is a tough choice pitting Marv Gaye and CCR against one another. I grew up listening to contender #2 and lovin’ their version, so my vote goes to CCR Thanks for adding the California Raisin commercial. That brings back some memories! lol Do you remember when Hardess offered the California Raisin figures with their morning breakfast biscuits in the mid-80s? I had almost all of them on my desk at work, and when I returned from maturity leave they were gone. I was sorta upset, but I let it slide since I put in my notice. 😀 Nice battle!

    It’s Magic #BoTB showdown

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would’ve been so pissed! I do remember when Hardees was doing the giveaway. I have the whole collection of them still! I didn’t get them from Hardees but got them from a retro shop. Love those little guys. You could probably find them again on ebay if you’re so inclined… But I would’ve really been mad. That sucks that coworkers did that while you were on leave. Bastards! 🙂

      Thanks for your vote. I have you down for CCR…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, it wasn’t the co-workers who took them. It was my boss’s young kids. Although that still isn’t right for children to take things that don’t belong to them, I felt it want worth the energy to fret over the whole thing. I was exhausted enough with late night nursing, no sleep, expressing milk at work, coordinating a replacement for my position,… I just wanted to be home with my baby. It’s time for bed now. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about feeding babies anymore. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m very familiar with the Marvin Gaye version of this song. So, I listened to the entire 11 minutes of CCR just to try and be fair about this whole thing. And I still love Marvin Gaye singing this song. I’m afraid that I’m echoing Cherdo on this battle. So ditto to what she said.

    Vote: Marvin Gaye

    P.S. I miss you not posting every day on my blog…. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Robin. Aw, we miss each other! 🙂 Your blog was so fun every day!

      Thanks for coming by and voting. I’ll put you down for Marvin. I still don’t know who I’m voting for and it’s going to take me listening to both versions over and over again. Tough one for me. Thanks for giving CCR a fair shot though…

      Like

    • Glad you liked the California Raisins. I love those litttle guys!
      I have you down for the one and only Marvin Gaye.
      Who’s Dan, btw?? 🙂

      Like

  11. This is a good battle. Although I like Marvin Gaye I really like Creedence. So give my vote to CCR. This was fun. My first battle vote! Love, Mom

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for playing Mom! It’s nice to have you here. Now if I can just convince you to get involved with more of my battles…
      I know how much you have always loved CCR so it’s no surprise that you’re voting for them. Thanks so much for coming by to vote! Love you. ❤

      Like

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