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!