A&M Cover Versions 1965-70: "The Drifter"

Which cover version is your favourite?

  • Roger Nichols And A Small Circle of Friends

    Votes: 3 33.3%
  • The Sandpipers

    Votes: 2 22.2%
  • Piasno & Ruff

    Votes: 4 44.4%

  • Total voters
    9

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Here's another one I missed (Thanks, Harry 👍 )

Vote for your favourite cover version and tell us a bit about why you made your selection. (The selections are listed in release order.)

 

Hiraeth

New Member
Harpers Bizarre is my favourite version of this track. The most classically "sunshine pop" version, and I like this arrangement best--it skips the "I put my faith in the open road" bridge, and goes straight to the chorus.

 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
The Sandpipers version sounds like The Association!!
...For good reason: it's the same arranger and Wrecking Crew members that Bones Howe used on The Association's Birthday -- which was cut in late '67-early '68. The only difference is that the Association clearly possess a vocal acumen that's in a whole different league than the Pipers.

I went with Pisano & Ruff as well. The unobtrusive guitar (walking with no destination), lonely legato French horn (aimlessly surveying) and perfectly-time children's vocals (observing the transition from one life -- now spent -- to another just emerging) is the perfect tone poem motif for me.

The others are all very good as pop songs (and I do perfer the Harper's version to Nichols' and the Pipers' -- it's preferred sans the bridge).
 

Bobberman

Well-Known Member
I'm clearly in the minority I voted for the Sandpipers on this as this was the first version I ever heard ( back in 1984 when I purchased my first copy of The LP "Come Saturday Morning" in Good condition for a dollar.) I found The lyrics very in tune with the times in which it was recorded originally and I liked the carefree spirit of it
 

AM Matt

Forum Undertaker
Did NOT heard of the Harpers Bizarre's version of "The Drifter" until now. I got the "Greatest Hits" (Warner Archives) which is missing that song & their last Billboard Hot 100 song "The Battle Of New Orleans" (Remake of the Johnny Horton song) from late 1968. I picked their version a close second.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
This song confuses the heck out of me. Back in the late 60s/early 70s time period, I used to hear this song with a fair amount of regularity, but I'm not sure who's version it was. I'd forgotten all about the song for years, and only re-united with the song when I heard it on the ROGER NICHOLS & THE SMALL CIRCLE OF FRIENDS album. Though the song jogged my memory, I've always been pretty sure that that wasn't the version I heard and liked on radio. It was somehow different.

I picked up the PISANO & RUFF album around the early 70s time frame, and knew that that wasn't the version I knew from radio - but still fun with the Herb Alpert scat vocals. Definitely wrong when the kids chorus started.

When I next got to hear the Sandpipers version, I thought that maybe that was it, but it too wasn't the way I remembered it. I kept thinking that the version I knew was by someone like Bobby Vinton, but he never did the song that I can find.

One day, while playing some records, I found that Harper's Bizarre did the song, and at that point, I thought that might have been it, but the instrumental bridge sounds wrong to me.

Finally it hit me - the version I heard on the radio is all but totally forgotten today. I'm pretty sure it was the single by Steve Lawrence:


I've voted for Roger Nichols version, as he wrote it.
 

Harry

Charter A&M Corner Member
Staff member
Site Admin
Oh - and the three A&M versions of "The Drifter" all show up on one Japanese CD compilation, THE ROGER NICHOLS & PAUL WILLIAMS SONGBOOK:

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Rudy

¡Que siga la fiesta!
Staff member
Site Admin
I went with the Roger Nichols version. I heard only a few tracks of the Pisano & Ruff album, including that one, and to be kind to those here who like it, I'll just say that recording will never be near my ears ever again. 😁 Not a Sandpipers fan either, so I guess the Nichols treatment wins by default. It was a B-side during the 60s, but Nichols covered it again in recent times on the album Full Circle.

 

Hiraeth

New Member
Did NOT heard of the Harpers Bizarre's version of "The Drifter" until now. I got the "Greatest Hits" (Warner Archives) which is missing that song & their last Billboard Hot 100 song "The Battle Of New Orleans" (Remake of the Johnny Horton song) from late 1968. I picked their version a close second.

Yea A lot of HB's greatest songs weren't on the "best of" packages. They tended to focus on the novelty and "period" type of songs but in fact there are beautiful and amazing pop gems all over the studio albums that are virtually unknown. Early Randy Newman songs like Snow, Kenny Rankin's Cotton Candy Sandman, some great originals like All Through The Night. One of the greatest is Small Talk, written by Bonner and Gordon who wrote ‘Happy Together’ and ‘She’d Rather Be With Me’ and others....


 

JOv2

Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
I heard only a few tracks of the Pisano & Ruff album, including that one, and to be kind to those here who like it, I'll just say that recording will never be near my ears ever again. 😁
...Looks like a little preview of a forthcoming One&Done... 😁
Yea A lot of HB's greatest songs weren't on the "best of" packages. They tended to focus on the novelty and "period" type of songs but in fact there are beautiful and amazing pop gems all over the studio albums that are virtually unknown. Early Randy Newman songs like Snow, Kenny Rankin's Cotton Candy Sandman, some great originals like All Through The Night. One of the greatest is Small Talk, written by Bonner and Gordon who wrote ‘Happy Together’ and ‘She’d Rather Be With Me’ and others....
Harpers are an odd fit for me: I'm don't like the twee vocals, but the music selection and arrangements nail the Sunshine Pop period. I had a chance encounter with Dick Scoppettone over 20 years ago...I told him how much I enjoyed the Secret Life Of LP. He told me that their producer (Lenny Waronker) wouldn't let them play on their own records; he also told me that they didn't make much money off their albums given they were so expensive to make. Oh, Cotton Candy Sandman has two versions -- with the 45 version more consistent with the Secret Life Of sessions.
 

Hiraeth

New Member
...Looks like a little preview of a forthcoming One&Done... 😁

Harpers are an odd fit for me: I'm don't like the twee vocals, but the music selection and arrangements nail the Sunshine Pop period. I had a chance encounter with Dick Scoppettone over 20 years ago...I told him how much I enjoyed the Secret Life Of LP. He told me that their producer (Lenny Waronker) wouldn't let them play on their own records; he also told me that they didn't make much money off their albums given they were so expensive to make. Oh, Cotton Candy Sandman has two versions -- with the 45 version more consistent with the Secret Life Of sessions.

Wow that's amazing you met Scoppetone! I believe it about the cost of producing those HB records.

I hear you about Ted Templeman's vocals. I guess the thing I sort of like is that he has such an untutored and simple kind of voice--its not mannered at all. He actually can't really sing all that well, and that's sort of what I like about it. He also didn't see himself as a singer.

"I never really wanted to be a singer, and never will be. I was just trying to do what Lenny wanted. Lenny is the best producer on the planet, I think. It's great to have somebody like that just guide you through."

Great detailed interview about about Lenny and the group here.

 

Hiraeth

New Member
I thought that the song "Sunshine Girl" by The Parade (A&M in 1967) sounded like Harper's Bizarre!!

Oh totally! It's very similar vibe. Definitely one of the original "sunshine pop" songs. I think one of the members of The Parade was also in Roger Nichols Trio/Small Circle of Friends....
 
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