Tune du Jour: “Love of the Common People” – The Four Preps
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Elton John vs. Stiff Little Fingers vs. Bruce Springsteen & The Sessions Band
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Broccoli For Miles And Miles And Miles And Miles And Miles ... Oh Yeah!

Broccoli For Miles
And Miles And Miles
And Miles And Miles …
Oh Yeah!

Love of the Common People was written and composed by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins and eventually released in 1970 on Hurley’s album John Hurley Sings about People. However, its first release was in 1967 when The Four Preps covered the song. In 1982 Paul Young released what was to become the most popular version of Love of the Common People, reaching No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart. The prior year Stiff Little Fingers had covered the song on their album Now Then. Jake Burns of SLF recalled this amusing anecdote pertaining to the song. Paul Young met SLF at one of their concerts in support of the album Now Then. Young asked Burns whether SLF were planning to release the song as a single. When Burns told them they weren’t, Young asked if they minded him releasing it as a single. They said he could, not thinking the single would do well. Years later Burns jokingly recalled his feelings at the time: “Pfft! Go ahead. You’ll never get anywhere with that, mate. Yeah, number 2, that’ll teach me!”

The Original

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The Four Preps (1967):

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CMI’s Millenial Most Distinguished Name Award

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The Winstons (1969):

In researching this song I came across a few individuals who felt The Winstons’ cover was the best overall version.

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The Most Popular

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Paul Young (1982):

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THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Elton John vs. Stiff Little Fingers vs. Bruce Springsteen & The Sessions Band

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Elton John (1970):

I would have never guessed that this was Elton John!

Stiff Little Fingers (1982):

Bruce Springsteen & The Sessions Band (2007):

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Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 

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

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Comments
  1. Arnold Plotnick says:

    Wow. What a GREAT way to start the morning. This is a spectacular song any way you look at it, and we got to look at it six different ways this morning. I hadn’t heard five of these versions before this morning, so this was very illuminating. The original, by the Four Preps, is spectacular. I was similarly blown away by the Winstons’ version, despite the horrific band name. I liked the Paul Young version the least, but it, too, wasn’t bad. The Elton John version was shocking. With eyes closed, I’d NEVER guess this was Elton. Not very impressed with his version, though. The Stiff Little Fingers version is the one I’ve heard many times, both live and studio, and it’s great. This live version is terrific, but the victor today is unequivocally Bruce Bruce Bruce. This is just an amazing rendition of the song, really one of the best things I’ve heard in a long time. His high tenor is just incredible, and the backing band is superb. I’ll be listening to this all week, no doubt.

  2. bornunderabadsign says:

    I thought about mounting a write-in campaign for The Winstons, but think Stiff Little Fingers takes the honors here!

  3. Cuspid says:

    Lots of good versions here. The original is very cool. I would have enjoyed the Winstons’ good version much more if they had chosen a better group name. For my tastes the Paul Young version sounded way too ’80s. Those electric drums just don’t work for this song. The SLF studio version from the 1982 Now Then LP was first one I ever heard, and still my favorite. This live version suffers a bit over the album version because Burns’ vocals. I found them to be nowhere near as strong on this particular version as the y are on the LP. Elton John’s version is just so cheesy I couldn’t even finish listening to the whole thing. It would have sounded a lot better if he had done it with band he was using in ’72 & ’73 (think: Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting). So my vote here goes to Bruce Springsteen, who absolutely nailed this one. He got the tempo and feel of the song absolutely perfect. The duel vocals with Curtis King are a highlight, and the great brass section of the Session Band put this one over the top. I heard this version about a year ago and immediately downloaded the mp3 to my computer. I’ve listened to it multiple times since then. Makes me want to jump up and start danging every time.

  4. RDubbs says:

    Some of you old-time CMI patrons may remember this same competition from 2013. This was essentially the same post with the one exception being that the Elton John rarity was added here. In 2013 Bruce and the Sessions took 2/3’s of the vote in 2013. It might be fun for each of you to look back to see if you voted the same in both polls (you can use the Search function of the blog).

    I felt an urgent need to replay this song now before The Donald outlaws it altogether.

    It’s really a tough call for me between Stiff Little Fingers and Bruce/Sessions Band. Both versions are just fantastic. SLF superbly captures the simmering angst of the song while The Boss etal. rings more defiant and hopeful. They’re really too close for me to call but for the sake of the vote I went with Springsteen.

  5. Kerry Black says:

    Great version from Springsteen; he’s really in his element on stage. He never mails it in, always gives a great live performance.

    Elton’s version is so early, it doesn’t even sound like him.

    Paul Young reminds us how bland early eighties MTV pop was.

    I had to vote for SLF, one of my favorite bands from my college days. Although it’s been quite a while since I’ve listened to them. Plus Jake Burns is the only person here I’ve met.

    • RDubbs says:

      Kerry, I’m shocked, SHOCKED I say that you failed to mention the superiority of Wanda Jackson’s version of “Love of the Common People” in your post!

  6. Pete Black says:

    Very tough to call between great versions by SLF and Bruce. I agree that this SLF live version is inferior to the studio recording. I listened To The Fingers,expected to go with them then Springsteen won me over with this version which I had not heard and I was going to vote for him but gave The Stiffies one more listen and voted before this volley went any further. The Elton John rendition is not a “proper” recording by him. In Britain it was commonplace to sell albums K-Tel style with lots of the recents hits but not by the original artists. The got a band of studio musicians to play covers then sold them cheaply. Elton was an unknown. They probably told him to just sing the songs and tone it down.

  7. A little background here. 1st heard the Paul Young version as a youngster but then discovered SLF a few years later as a teenager. Actually was at the Brixton Academy show in the youtube clip here and love their version. Bruce’s version was restricted here in the US so googled it and watched on Youtube. Which then led to many over versions. Everly Brothers. John Denver. Ed Ames and Johnny Cash. Waylon Jennings. And finally the SLF Now Then album version. Like the Winston’s version. Like the Everly brothers version. But SLF wins. Hanx

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