Finally! As promised in my February 12th entry about Art’s Alternate recordings, it’s now time to examine the differences between Aaron’s recordings and their alternate versions.
Original version (2:16) / Alternate version (2:06) / Original version – alternate mix (2:17)
The differences between the original version and the alternate take are very obvious. The alternate take is MUCH faster and (as a result) is about ten seconds shorter than the single version. Vocals are dry (ie they do not have any delay effect applied to them.)
If the speed isn’t a dead giveaway, the first verse is sung slightly differently between the two versions. On the original 45, the lyrics are: “There’ll be some slow walkin’. Gonna be some sad talkin’. There’ll be some flowers bringin’. Gonna be some sad singin’. Over You…” On the alternate version, the third and fourth lines are very slightly different: Gonna be some flowers bringin’. There’ll be some sad singin’.”
The third version is actually the same take as the original version except that there is no delay effect on the vocals and the song fades out (rather than coming to a cold ending as it does on the original 45 version.)
Get Out Of My Life
Original version (2:12) / Alternate version (2:03)
Here, the differences are a bit subtler. For the most part, the main differences are with the lyrics. The first line of the second verse (“You played a game, I was a fool”) is slightly different on the alternate version (“You played a game, I SAID I was a fool.”)
The improvised lyrics at the end are significantly different between the two versions. The lyrics of the original single version are: “I said, let me go, baby. Come on, come on, let me go now. I said, come on, come on, come on, come on, whoa. a-ha, a-ha, a-ha a-ha, a-ha, a-ha a-ha, a-ha, a-ha. Come on, let me go” On the alternate version, we hear Aaron sing, “A-come on, come on and let me go now. I don’t want you around me no no. A-come on come on… “
Show Me the Way
Original version (2:18) / Alternate version (2:31)
The alternate version is the same take as the original version except for two significant differences. It is missing a vibraphone* overdub, which features prominently on the original version. Also, the alternate, undubbed version features an extra 12 seconds during which the vocal “choir” (sans Aaron) sings a final “show me the way” at a much slower speed than the rest of the song, followed by a loud piano chord and softer, single bass note.
* If you are not familiar with it, a vibraphone (also called a vibraharp) is a xylophone-like percussion instrument, with metal keys. Here is a video, featuring a vibraphone solo so you’ll know what sound to be listening for.
Original version (2:43) / Alternate version (2:38)
Despite the timing difference, the two versions are the same take except that the alternate version is missing vibraphone overdubs, which are found on the original version. It appears as though the timing difference is the result of the alternate version’s running a hair faster.
Don’t Cry (Aaron)
Original version (2:14) / Alternate version (2:10)
A couple significant differences make these two versions very easy to differentiate. The original version features a melodic piano introduction with a predominant vibraphone part throughout the recording. The alternate version starts with triplet arpeggios on piano and the entire track is vibraphone-free.
Original version (2:23) / Alternate version (2:35)
The two versions are identical through the first 2:17 of the track. At that point, the single version features a prominent piano part with the backing vocalists repeating the song’s title, “humdinger” until the song fades out. On the alternate (unedited master) take, the verse which begins “I bought my baby child a diamond ring. It was a humdinger” is repeated and faded out.
Original version (2:47) / Alternate version (2:46)
This one is the trickiest to differentiate and some discs incorrectly identify which version they contain. Aaron’s phrasing is different between the two versions (and the backing vocals are mixed lower on the alternate take.) The only lyrical differences are: (1) a single word during the first verse and (2) the improvised singing at the end, during the song’s fade-out.
During the first verse (“Every time the telephone rings I hold my breath. Hoping that it’s you, I’m scared to death. [The] phone went ring, my crippled heart cried. Let it be you, on the line”) the word “the” preceding the word “phone” exists in the alternate version but NOT in the original, single version.
A somewhat more obvious clue can be heard during the song’s fade-out (following the lyrics “Hold on baby, ’til I tell these blues goodbye. ‘Til I tell these blues goodbye.”) On the original, single version, Aaron hums (“mm-mm-mm”) while he SINGS “whoa whoa yeahhh” on the alternate version.
For Every Boy There’s a Girl
Original version (2:48) / Alternate version (2:13)
The commercial version features a flute overdub that is missing from the alternate version. There are places where the flute part is quite pretty while, at other points, it sticks out like a sore thumb. The bridge (“I pray at night that you’ll come back to me. I love you with all my heart and soul. Darling, I would never make you cry. I want you to come to my side”) is repeated on the original version, thus explaining the extra 35 seconds
I’ve Done It Again (Once Again)
Original version (2:47) / Alternate version (1:35)
To my ears, the two versions sound like variations of the same recording. Besides the significant timing difference, the original version (again) features a flute overdub that is missing from the alternate version. While the flute part on “For Every Boy…” is at least tolerable to my ears, it sticks out like a sore thumb here. The entire song has a swinging feel to it, while the flute is played straight, making it sound all the more like it was an afterthought. The original version is so much longer because it features an instrumental solo (again marred by the flute part) and a repeat of the song’s bridge (“I’ve been in love before. I’ve been hurt before. I thought I was through with being a fool, but I ended up in the same shoes once more.”) The verse, which immediately follows the bridge the first time around (“Once again I sit alone, wondering and worrying all night long over you.
I’ve done it again”) is also repeated.
The Ticks of The Clock
Version 1 (3:07) / Version 2 (3:12) / Version 3
This one is tricky. Not so much because the three versions are hard to differentiate, but because various sources describe certain versions differently. Ignore the weak liner notes and trust your ears!
According to some sources, a version of this song was released on the “Art and Aaron Neville” LP (Bandy 70013,) a “fact” which I reproduced on the NevilleTracks discography. The song does NOT appear on my copy of that LP, nor on any copy I’ve ever encountered, so I can’t say for sure that it really exists. I have found three versions of this song.
Version 1 (probably the closest thing to a “single version” that we have) seems to be nothing more than Version 2, faded out five seconds early. Version 2 has a cold ending, rather than a fade out. It ends with a “campy” piano/drum/sax tag. The sax solo on both sound the same, but I suspect that’s because the sax player played the solo the same way both times. The “tick tock” effect on this version sounds very different. It sounds more like “tock tock” than “tick tock” because the pitch doesn’t vary the way it does on the “single version.” This “tock tock” slows down a hair at the end and comes to a dead stop, rather than being faded out.
Lyrically, there are a couple significant differences to help the listener spot which version s/he is listening to.
The most obvious of these “tells” occur the second and third time the chorus (“She thinks that I’m-a lame”) is sung. The second time around, Aaron sings, “You know, you think that I’m-a lame.” The third time, it’s “She thinks, you know she thinks that I’m-a lame.”
Tell It Like It Is
Original version (2:41) / Remake (3:04)
Unlike any of the other recordings being discussed here, these two recordings were recorded at separate times for two separate record companies. Quite often, particularly back in the 70’s and 80’s, a record label would ask an artist to re-record one of his/her big hits, giving the record buyer something “familiar” (and guaranteeing a certain amount of sales to folks who are familiar with the hit – or to those who are unaware that they are not getting the original recording.)
On the original Parlo recording, the piano arpeggio at the very beginning is much slower than that on the remake. The piano provides the rhythm on the Parlo version, with the guitar accenting the off-beats (2 and 4.) On the remake, the guitar is not just providing accents; it is the prominent rhythm instrument.
Lyrically, Aaron takes a lot of liberties on the remake. During the second verse, (“If you are serious, then don’t play with my heart, it makes me furious”) Aaron sings the lyrics as “If you are serious little girl, little girl, little girl, then don’t play with my heart, it makes me furious.” There are several of these lyrical improvisations throughout the song.
Original Version (3:53) / Alternate version (4:30)
The 45 version features a continual trumpet part throughout the song (beginning just prior to Aaron’s first entrance.) There are no horns on the alternate version at all. The single fades out during the lyric, “I’m gonna be waitin by the railroad tracks yes I am” while the alternate version does not fade at that point and continues for another 35 seconds or so. During this extended ending, Aaron improvises while the backing vocalists repeat the “work it up, Hannah” “riff.”
Original Version (3:40) / Alternate version (4:10)
The original 45 version is a half minute shorter than the alternate version. On most unauthorized reissues, it is the alternate version that is included and NOT the original single version. The single version features string overdubs & double-tracked vocals, neither of which is on the alternate version.
The 45 fades out during the lyrics, “Beg, steal or borrow. Somehow I’ve got to make it till tomorrow.” The alternate version continues with another verse: “Can’t depend, on no-one else. Comin’ up the hard way I’ve got to save myself. Must be Hercules. I must be Hercules. Talk about me if you please. I must be Hercules.” Shortly after the vocals conclude, the song comes to a grinding halt. (The recording is faded during the last few seconds but the cold ending is still very evident.)