Battle of the Bands – If You Don’t Know Me By Now


It’s time for another Battle of the Bands and today I’m featuring the song If You Don’t Know Me By Now. Give a listen to the two contenders and vote which version you like best in the Comments section. I’ll post the results in 6 days!

“If You Don’t Know Me by Now” is a song written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and recorded by the Philly soul musical group Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, which became their first hit after being released as a single in 1972 topping the US R&B chart and peaking at number three on the US Pop chart.

The song was originally written for Labelle (a trio led by Patti LaBelle) but they never recorded it. Much like the issue with “I Miss You” and The Dells passing on it, the song’s composers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff gave the song to Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, which featured Teddy Pendergrass as lead vocalist. In addition to the single release, the song was included on their debut album I Miss You.

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes version: THIS IS NOT PART OF THE BATTLE! Presented for your listening pleasure only.

This is such a great song and I had four strong contenders that I was considering using, including Joe Stampley’s version and Martina McBride’s very emotional rendition but decided on using the popular version by Simply Red and the reggae version by Jamaican band Zap Pow, which is also very good…plus they bring something different to the party. Here are this battle’s contenders:

Contender #1: Simply Red

It was covered by the English pop/soul band Simply Red, also becoming their best-known hit after reaching number one on the U.S. Hot 100 on July 15, 1989 and at number thirty-eight on the Hot Black Singles chart. It peaked at number two in the UK Singles Chart. It also topped the Canadian Singles Chart.


Contender #2: Zap Pow  

Zap Pow was a Jamaican reggae band, whose members have included guitarist Dwight Pinkney, singer Beres Hammond and trumpeter David Madden. They existed from 1969 to 1979. This is a fantastic version of this song with some excellent trumpet work.


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:

32 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands – If You Don’t Know Me By Now

  1. Hi, MIchele!

    Happy August to you, dear friend!

    From the time I was a teenager in the 60s to this day I have been a fan of TSOP – The Sound of Philadelphia – created by Gamble & Huff. Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, frequent fliers on Philly DJ Jerry Blavat’s TV dance parties, are one of my favorite soul groups. I was working in TV news on March 18, 1982, when the bells sounded on the AP and UPI wire service machines and I read the horrible news that Teddy Pendergrass had been in an auto accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

    A few years later I was working at that MTV station. The videos of the British blue-eyed soul band Simply Red were requested often and played heavily. Mick Hucknall is the real deal and he delivers a wonderful rendition of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” To my ears his version is second only to that of Pendergrass. While I enjoyed Beres Hammond’s soulful vocals, I simply do not like Jamaican reggae music nearly as much. Therefore, I give my vote to Simply Red.

    Thank you, dear friend Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was so sad about Teddy Pendergrass. Such a talent!
      I love Simply Red and their version here is fantastic. I’m glad you enjoyed Zap Pow’s reggae version. I found it not to be heavy reggae, which is what I liked about it, in addition to the vocals and the trumpet. Thanks for giving it a listen…

      And thanks for your vote. I’ll put you down for Simply Red…

      Have a great week Shady! As always, thanks for taking time to stop by and play along with my battle…


  2. Early this morning I guess I’m not so much in a reggae mood though the version was well performed. I’ve long been a Simply Red fan and though this is not my favorite performance by him, his version of the song is preferable to my ears this morning.

    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Simply Red it is! So far all the votes have been for Simply Red so I may end up having a shut out… and for sure I think this is going to be a lopsided battle…
      I love the Simply Red version so much!


  3. I always thought that Simply Red wrote this song. Guess I learned something new today after all 😉 I’ve been a longtime fan of this song and Simply Red’s version takes me on a journey of memories. Zap Pow doesn’t do much for me at all. Giving my vote to Simply Red.

    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, love when music takes you on that journey of days gone past…
      Another vote for Simply Red. Thanks for your vote Mary…


  4. I’m showing my favs today on the battles.

    Usually, I’ll go reggae on a remake. It’s a fun upgrade. But not against Simply Red! I love that curly headed wonder’s voice so much. Bring on “Holding Back the Years” while you’re at it, lol.


    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG, Holding Back the Years is such a fantastic song! Yes!!! Simply Red is certainly dominating this battle. Thanks for your vote Cherdo


    • Simply Red for you…and for everyone else so far. 🙂 It is a great song and they certainly perform it exquisitely! Thanks for your vote Birgit…


  5. Michele, Oooo, what a fantastic song to cover in this battle! It’s hard to go against Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, but you did alright coming up with two fantastic artists. At first listen I thought I’d go with Simply Red. Their style mimics the original fairly close and the vocals are wonderfully smooth. However, Zap Pow surprised me. I figured the reggae version would be too off base and while the instrumentals have a hint of Jamaican flavor I enjoyed everything about this rendition. Please give my vote to Zap Pow. Maybe, it’s just the mood I’m in today is why I’m voting this way, but I won’t be upset if Simply Red wins. Like I said, both artists are good. Great battle, my friend! I hope you’ll join me for Boston cover song Peace of Mind #BoTB showdown!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay, the first vote for Zap Pow! I liked them because their version wasn’t heavy reggae. Thanks for casting your vote for them. I was fearing a shut out. 🙂 I should’ve used the Martina McBride cover; I think the votes would be closer. Not everyone is into the reggae sound but I thought they did a really good job with it.
      So glad you enjoyed them! Thanks for stopping by Cathy.
      And I loved your Boston cover battle! GREAT song there…


  6. Too many memories around the Simply Red version not to choose it and I now can’t get it out of my head. The reggae version was interesting but not a patch on Simply Red. Great song to choose.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice choice for a battle, Michelle! I’m going with Simply Red, simply (ha!) because… well, it’s impossible not to 😀 I’ve loved that song for decades, and it’s one of those classics that never gets old. Even the original (which I had no clue existed, so thanks for that bit of education!) doesn’t hold up (to me) against it. A few years ago Simply Red came to the Curaçao jazz festival as part of their farewell tour, and… wow, listening to this song was an extraordinary moment. So… yes. Simply Red for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, how lucky to have seen Simply Red in concert! So fantastic. Really glad this brought back memories for you. Thanks for coming by to vote Guilie!


  8. What can I say? You have awoken memories. That song was a hit for a long time and I remember it. For me, there is no doubt that Simply Red is the best. If you don’t know me is not a reggae song in my opinion. So, SIMPLY Red has my vote. Thank you for waking up a very pleasant memory.
    Shalom aleichem,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Patricia, I love that about music, how it so powerfully awakens the years gone by. I’m glad you liked my song choice. Thanks so much for playing and for your vote!


  9. MICHELE ~
    It’s kind of funny, and it shows my age, that I was surprised to find people in this comment section saying that they never knew this song wasn’t a Simply Red original. Funny, because I never even knew there WAS a Simply Red version. The only recording of this song I’d ever heard was the REAL original by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. (I did NOT know, however, that Teddy Pendergrass was the lead singer of HM&TBN.)

    >>… Simply Red, also becoming their best-known hit after reaching number one on the U.S. Hot 100 on July 15, 1989

    Wow! I would have guessed their best-known song was ‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’. But then I stopped listening to radio after 1985, so that would explain that.

    I generally DO like Reggae. But I didn’t think that style worked so great with this particular song. So even though I feel Simply Red really wasn’t doing anything more than copying the Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes original, I’ll still vote for Simply Red.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, it’s a wake-up call when we start to realize our age, isn’t it?! I notice it every morning when I look in the mirror and see the gray hairs sprouting…
      I’m glad to hear you say that you remember Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes version. I didn’t realize so many weren’t aware of that version.
      Thanks for your vote. This is damn near a shut-out on this one. The Simply Red version is simply fantastic and hard to beat… I should’ve used the Martina McBride version. THAT would’ve been more of a contest…Oh well…


    • Right you are. I’m just about to tally the votes but I really don’t even need to count. Simply Red gets this one easily…
      Thanks for your vote John.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Like Stephen, my age is showing here, because I didn’t know about the Simply Red version either. It’s similar to the original. I’m going against the majority and voting for Zap Pow. Their reggae version had my toe tapping. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! Another vote for Zap Pow! I’m so glad that you found something valuable in their version, enough to give them a vote. Thanks for coming by. Glad to hear your trip to Michigan was fun… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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