Tune du Jour: “Duke of Earl” – Gene Chandler
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Alton Ellis vs. Youth Brigade
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Broccoli Fields Forever ...

Broc..Broc..Broc..Broc-A-Lee, Broc..Broc..Broc-A-Lee…

Duke of Earl was penned in 1961 by Gene Chandler, Bernice Williams and Earl Edwards. The song rose to number 1 on both the pop and R&B charts. It held the number-one spot for three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the Hot 100 for a total of 15 weeks. Duke of Earl was a 2002 inductee into the Grammy Hall of Fame and was selected by The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Duke of Earl has a rather interesting origin. According to Wikipedia, the song originated from warm-up exercises by the Dukays, a vocal group that included Chandler (under his original name, Eugene Dixon) and Earl Edwards. The group would regularly warm up by singing “Do do do do…” in different keys. On one occasion, Dixon changed the syllables he was singing to include Earl’s name, and the chant gradually became the nonsense words “Du..du..du..Duke of Earl”. The pair worked on the song with regular songwriter and mentor Bernice Williams, and then recorded it with the other members of the Dukays. However, the group’s record company was not interested in releasing the song, instead leaving Dixon with the offer of releasing it as a solo artist. Dixon changed his name to Gene Chandler (a surname taken from that of the actor Jeff Chandler), and the song was released at the end of 1961

The Original

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Gene Chandler:

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Alton Ellis and The Flames vs. Youth Brigade

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Alton Ellis and The Flames:

Youth Brigade:

Everybody Now: I’m An Individual, We Are Individuals!!!

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?

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Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

Comments
  1. Arnie Plotnick says:

    Rather abrupt change of tempo in the Youth Brigade version, but still… I tend to go for reggae-fied versions if they’re good, and this one was halfway decent.

  2. RDubbs says:

    I had to go with Youth Brigade. Respectable crooning in the beginning and unexpected, interesting and bizarre transition at the end. Nice try, Alton, but Daggummit I’M AN INDIVIDUAL!!!

  3. Kerry Black says:

    I remember playing a close game of Trivial Pursuit against my dad back in the eighties. Late in the proceedings, we’re both tryin’ to put the other guy away once and for all. Dad pulls the card and reads the question: “What can stop The Duke of Earl?” I of course answer: “Nothing’! Not knowing the song, he had no idea what the question even meant. Watching him wince in pure disgust was both memorable and gratifying.

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