Edited by Azizi Powell
This post provides information about the Rhythm & Blues song "I Heard It Though The Grapevine" and showcases four Motown examples of that song. The featured artists who are featured in this post are Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, and The Temptations.
Note: These four examples aren't the only recordings of "I Heard It Though The Grapevine" by Motown recording artists.
The content of this post is presented for entertainment, cultural, and aesthetic purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, the composers of this song. Thanks also to all the featured singers and musicians. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post and the publishers of these examples on YouTube.
Hat tip to Mitchell McCann who sent me an email requesting a pancocojams post about "I Heard It Though The Grapevine".
Click https://play.google.com/music/preview/T6sajmrpnxg2jcq4zawy2lvdbk4?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics for lyrics to this song.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE SONG "I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE"
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" is a song written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966, and made famous by Marvin Gaye in a single released in October 1968 on Motown's Tamla label.
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles released a cover in their 1968 album, Special Occasion. Whitfield produced a version with Gladys Knight & the Pips, which Gordy releases as a single in September 1967, and which went to number two in the Billboard chart. The Marvin Gaye version was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys, and Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969 and became for a time the biggest hit single on the Motown label (Tamla).
The Gaye recording has since become an acclaimed soul classic, and in 2004, it was placed on the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. On the commemorative 50th Anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Marvin Gaye's "Grapevine" was ranked 65th. It was also inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value.
In addition to being released several times by Motown artists, the song has been covered by a range of musicians including Creedence Clearwater Revival, who made an eleven-minute interpretation for their 1970 album, Cosmo's Factory; and has been used twice in television commercials – each time using session musicians recreating the style of the Marvin Gaye version: the 1985 Levi's commercial, "Launderette", featuring male model Nick Kamen, and the 1986 California raisins promotion with Buddy Miles as the singer for the clay animation group The California Raisins.
By 1966, Barrett Strong, the singer on Motown Records' breakthrough hit, "Money (That's What I Want)", had the basics of a song he had started to write in Chicago, where the idea had come to him while walking down Michigan Avenue that people were always saying "I heard it through the grapevine". The phrase is associated with black slaves during the Civil War, who had their form of telegraph: the human grapevine. Producer Norman Whitfield worked with Strong on the song, adding lyrics to Strong's basic Ray Charles influenced gospel tune and the single chorus line of "I heard it through the grapevine". This was to be the first of a number of successful collaborations between Strong and Whitfield.
Producer Norman Whitfield recorded "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" with various Motown artists. The first known recording is with the Miracles on August 6, 1966, though there may also have been a recording with the Isley Brothers, or at least Whitfield intended to record it with them; however a track has not turned up – some Motown historians believe that a session may have been scheduled but cancelled. The Miracles' version was not released as a single due to Berry Gordy's veto during Motown's weekly quality control meetings; Gordy advised Whitfield and Strong to create a stronger single. The Miracles version later appeared on their 1968 Special Occasion album, and a slightly different take, possibly from the same session but unreleased, appeared on the 1998 compilation album, Motown Sings Motown Treasures.
Marvin Gaye's version was recorded in spring 1967, and is the second known recording, though was also rejected by Gordy as a single, and would also later go onto an album, In the Groove. The third recording was in 1967 with Gladys Knight and the Pips in a new, faster arrangement. Gordy accepted the new arrangement and the Gladys Knight version was released as a single in September 1967, reaching number 2 in the charts. When Gaye's album with his version of Grapevine was released in August 1968 radio disc jockeys were playing the song, so Gordy had it released as a single in October, and it went to number one in December.
In 1968, Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers recorded a version for their debut album based on Gladys' recent hit; however, after hearing the Marvin Gaye version, they felt they'd made the wrong choice. In 1969, Whitfield produced a version for the Temptations "psychedelic soul" album, Cloud Nine, in which he "brought compelling percussion to the fore, and relegated the piano well into the wings". In 1971, the Undisputed Truth became the final Motown act to record the song in its Marvin-styled version. The song was also covered by the Chi-Lites on their 1969 debut album Give It Away.
These videos are presented in chronological order by their publishing dates on YouTube with the oldest video given first.
Example #1: I Heard It Through The Grapevine-Gladys Knight and the Pips 
wingtipvortex Uploaded on May 14, 2008
Love this tune to bits! Creedence version is brilliant, this one is double brilliant!!
Here's a link to the Creedence Clearwater Revival version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93S_l0qZrXA
Selected comments from this video's discussion thread:
Okon “Herbsman” Umoh, 2014
"No disrespect to Marvin, but this version takes the biscuit. There is just so much funk, soul, personality and attitude in this one."
The idiom “takes the biscuit” is usually given as “takes the cake” (meaning, “wins the prize”).
Lou Hutson, 2014
"Motown had the genius idea of having more than one of their artists record the same song. Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight hit heard it through the grapevine out of the park!"
"Love Gladys' version, though Marvin's has more airplay."
"This is from the very first episode of Soul Train!"
Example #2: Marvin Gaye I Heard It Through The Grapevine (1968)
Rene Zwaap, Uploaded on Feb 25, 2009
Example #3: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles - I Heard It Through the Grapevine
KingRizlaa, Uploaded on Jan 27, 2010
Selected comments from this sound file's discussion thread:
Matt S, 2014
"This was the first recorded version, in 1966. It wasn't released until much later. Marvin Gaye's version was the second one RECORDED (1967) but was initially rejected as a single and put on Gaye's "In The Groove" album (1968). DJs played the song on the radio and forced Motown to make it a single. Gladys Knight and the Pips' version was the first one RELEASED but the third RECORDED..."
"what about temptations version?"
Frank Janssen, 2014
"+shomzlezilebovic According to The Originals.be this is the sequence of recording (not release!!) Smokey Robinson & The Miracles (1966), Isley Brothers (1967) [unreleased], Gladys Knight & The Pips (1967) [n°1 R&B], Willie Bobo (1967) , Marvin Gaye (1968) [n°1 R&B, US & UK], King Curtis (1968) , Temptations (1969), Chi-Lites (1969) , Creedence Clearwater Revival (1970) , Undisputed Truth (1971) , Maggie MacNeal (1971) , Average White Band (1977) , Joe Cocker (1978) , Slits (1979) , Bettye LaVette (1980) , Roger (1981) [n°1 R&B], Flying Pickets (1984) , Tuxedomoon (1987) , Marisa Monte (1989) , F.M. (1991) [hardrock-version], B.J. Scott & Doug Duffy (1994) , Soultans (1996) , The King (1998) , Michael McDonald (2003) , Amy Winehouse & Paul Weller (2008)
NB: these are the well-known versions, not every version nor the best .... The Slits did a good job butchering this song! ;-P"
Example #4: The Temptations - I Heard It Through The Grapevine
Will Common Published on Sep 15, 2013
Copyrights owned by Motown Records (1969). Lead by Eddie Kendricks & Dennis Edwards, Narrating of a man hearing of his own relationships deception through the grapevine. This is their cover version. Originally done by Glady Knight & The Pips in 1967 and was made famous by Marvin Gaye a year later.
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