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1/7/2011 – The “Unchained Melody” Cat Fight!

Posted: January 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Doo Wop, Pop, R&B, Rock n' Roll, rockabilly | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments »

Friday Night Cat Fight Podcast

“Unchained Melody”

The Friday Night Cat Fight takes on one of the most popular, most covered and best selling songs of all-time with “Unchained Melody.”  Originally, it was written for the 1955 motion picture, “Unchained,” but after Les Baxter released an instrumental version of the tune on Capitol and it hit #1, it became one of the biggest songs of 1955, with versions by Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton topping the R&B charts and charting top 10 on the pop lists.  We’ll also feature some very unique and heartfelt renditions of “Unchained Melody” by Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps (1957), New York’s Vito & The Salutations (1963) and the mega-selling 1965 Righteous Brothers classic.

So listen and then vote for your favorite version of “Unchained Melody.”  With over 500 covers of this tune, I couldn’t feature them all, but I think all six that are featured here are worth your time.

Which One Do You Dig The Most? - "Unchained Melody"

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16 Comments on “1/7/2011 – The “Unchained Melody” Cat Fight!”

  1. 1 Stickball Eddie said at 8:29 pm on January 6th, 2011:

    Probably the best and yet the most difficult FNCF selection for me. Al Hibbler’s version is haunting and beautiful. The movie “Ghost” had a profound influence on this rendition. However, the Righteous Brothers’ performance is so moving and soulful my vote went to them. Thank you Matt, have a great New Year.

  2. 2 Big Wave Dave said at 10:14 pm on January 6th, 2011:

    The Rigtheous Brothers at their very best.

  3. 3 David said at 10:33 pm on January 6th, 2011:

    For me, this one’s a slam dunk: The Righteous Brothers and Phil Spector did the definitive, iconic version. Theirs walks right up to the edge of the cliff of over-the-top maudlin mawk, but for me, it never loses its footing and gets extra credit for risking so much. I think it’s an imaginative arrangement and brilliant performance.

  4. 4 Sierra said at 11:59 pm on January 6th, 2011:

    This was a hard one for me too, and when I first saw the list of contestants, I was expecting to vote for the Righteous Brothers. Theirs has always been my favorite version, but I found Gene Vincent’s so unique; had to go with him this time. Wonder why he omitted the bridge though.

  5. 5 Kenn said at 12:22 am on January 7th, 2011:

    The Righteous Brothers version is the one. I was suprised that I have heard most of these versions but they never come close to touching me like the RBs.

  6. 6 Virginia said at 12:30 am on January 7th, 2011:

    While Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton were terrific The Righteous Brothers were just way over the top the best in my opinion, their version is still playing in my head. Yes Matt poor Elvis his version was very sad, I wondered if he was singing to anyone special. Thank you once again for this weeks music treat.

  7. 7 Rockin' Ed said at 10:09 am on January 7th, 2011:

    Gene Vincent’s is the one for me. After hearing the Righteous Bros Ad Nauseum, I needed something different. I enjoy the quietness and still of the beautiful guitar licks of Cliff Gallop

    Vito’s version was a bit too silly for me
    I do like Roy H’s the best of all the hit versions.

  8. 8 Ron said at 9:42 pm on January 7th, 2011:

    Hands down, Bobbie Hatfields voice was born to sing this song, after 40 yrs It still can send chills

  9. 9 coachyank said at 9:47 pm on January 7th, 2011:

    I am a HUGE Righteous Bros. fan, and I love their version, but for some reason I have always preferred Roy Hamilton’s take on this classic. Just love his voice!

  10. 10 Pete Sobek said at 4:07 pm on January 8th, 2011:

    I saw the Righteous Brothers do this live twice. Once at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A., and at the Hollywood Bowl. Both great shows.

  11. 11 timevac3 said at 2:21 am on January 9th, 2011:

    The Righteous Brothers did quite well with this song; Bobby nailed it. However I have gotten a bit tired of their version. IIRC, by the time this was recorded, Bill had said that Phil had little to do with producing it.
    The other versions were all quite good, but I picked Vito’s version because it goes against the norm for this tune.
    If you want to hear a truely goofy version of the song, look for Peter Sellers’ version.

  12. 12 Bruce & Deb said at 12:03 am on January 10th, 2011:

    The Righteous Brothers got our vote. If ever their was a song that begged for the lush over the top production of “the wall of sound” it was this one. The vocal performance by Bobby Hatfield is absolutely to die for, like a fine wine.
    A close second was Gene Vincent’s version for it’s simplicity and as Ed pointed out the beautiful guitar licks – you can almost see the clapper boys swaying in the backround. Hmmm…maybe if they’d clapped this would have been the version we remember today.
    Great song, great Catfight, thanks Matt!!

  13. 13 David said at 4:23 pm on January 10th, 2011:

    @timevac, who said “IIRC, by the time this was recorded, Bill had said that Phil had little to do with producing it.”

    I do not remember hearing this before, but I just websearched it, and yes, timevac is correct. You’ll notice (that unlike on most other Philles records), Phil Spector has no credit on the single label pictured above for producing “Unchained Melody.” Bill Medley has claimed the credit for this production. Apparently, jealousy over much of the success of this track was a bone of contention for Spector and the Righteous Brothers, which is no surprise, because Phil was insecure and contentious even with the artists he worked with successfully. If you want to read some more about this (as I did), see for starters:
    So anyway, I retract my earlier remark giving half-credit to Spector and will leave it at: “For me… the Righteous Brothers did the definitive, iconic version of this track.”

  14. 14 timevac3 said at 5:35 pm on January 10th, 2011:

    Thanks David, glad I haven’t completely lost my mind…….. yet!

  15. 15 CCK said at 12:58 pm on January 14th, 2011:

    I went with Les Baxter on this one, because the melody is so true & pure, there’s no need for the lyrics.

  16. 16 Steve in Arizona said at 9:28 pm on January 14th, 2011:

    What a beautiful melody. Vitos’ version was a bit too much for me but not bad. Any one of the others could have won. As I listened to each in succession I said that’s it. But when you hear Bobby Hatfield that was it. I did really like Les Baxters version alot also. Sometimes it’s almost too hard to chose.

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