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DECCA 48126; DECEMBER, 1949

 
 

 

In the Nineteen-Forties the general rule of thumb when it came to hit records was ”When you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all” thanks to the propensity of cover versions across the entire industry.

Cover records were not the sacrilegious offense they later became, in fact all new releases were seen as fair game for other artists to try their hand at with the hope being they’d steal listeners away from the original. Since everyone did it there was nothing underhanded about it, each record company jumped on whatever song showed promise, often covering them multiple times for different markets – pop versions, country versions and something for mainstream black audiences – all hoping to get a piece of the pie… a pie they all figured would be bigger the more versions existed to make the song itself more widely known.

But in 1949 what black audiences were increasingly demanding was rock ‘n’ roll, especially the younger generation who were buying an ever greater share of the records, and yet rock acts were shaping up to be far different than anything that had come before them in any style because by in large they were hitting big with original songs, not somebody else’s hand-me-downs.

In due time rock’s preference for originality would be the very thing that would put an end to cover records in all fields of music, pop included, but even as early as 1949 the sighting of a rock artist coming out with a cover record was becoming quite rare…

Unless of course you were one who had just been signed to a major label who hadn’t yet gotten the memo that rock ‘n’ roll sort of looked down this type of thing.
 
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