BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”


All righty! The 2015 A to Z Challenge is history, and things can start getting back to normal around here (whatever that is). It’s the first of May, May Day, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, and as it’s the first of the month, it’s time for another Battle of the Bands!

“I Heard It Thrugh The Grapevine” was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. It was recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles that year, but Berry Gordy refused to release it, and it was given to Marvin Gaye after Whitfield and Strong made it “stronger.” Gordy didn’t like Gaye’s version of it, either. Whitfield produced a version by Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Gordy issued it in Septrember 1967, where it reached #2 on the Hot 100. Gaye’s version, meanwhile, ws included on his 1968 album In The Groove, where it caught the ears of disk jockeys, and soon Gordy agreed to release it as a single in October 1968. The song hit #1 on the Hot 100 in December and remained there for seven weeks, and it’s now considered a soul classic. Here is Marvin’s classic version of the tune. This version is not in the running, so don’t vote for it.

Here are your choices for this Battle:

CONTESTANT #1: Gladys Knight and the Pips

While they were the third choice to record the tune, Gladys Knight and the Pips’ version that was released first, and it did very well. This is taken from an episode of Soul Train sometime in the early 1970’s, just judging from the clothes. I love Gladys’s hair in this, don’t you?

CONTESTANT #2: Creedence Clearwater Revival

John Fogerty and company did an eleven-minute jam on the tune for 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory. It was reduced to about 31/2 minutes for radio play (lucky for you), and eventually reached #43 on the Hot 100 in 1976. That’s the version here, but the link above will take you to the long version, in case you’re curious (and I hope you are, because that version really kicks ass).

Now, it’s time to vote…

Of the two versions presented here, which did you prefer? Gladys Knight’s, a more traditional soul version than Marvin Gaye’s, or Creedence’s country-rock version? All three of them represent the respective artists at the top of their game, and all three are similar, but quite different in their approach. I’ll be interested to hear what everyone has to say. Voting is now open, and the final tally of the votes will be taken and reported here one week from today.

And, after you finish here, how about doing what I plan on doing, and visiting the blogs that will most likely be featuring Battles of the Bands today as well?

Tossing It Out
Far Away Series
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands
Your Daily Dose
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
This Belle Rocks
Book Lover
Alex J. Cavanaugh

Be sure to check the comments on thse blogs for other Battles as well!

Results next week!


Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

23 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “I Heard It Through The Grapevine””

  1. Well, I choose Gladys Knight but my favorite version you did not include here – The California Raisins.


    1. There are a couple of them, in fact, one that’s pretty much the same as Marvin Gaye’s and another that’s more or less Michael Jackson doing it. Which did you mean?


  2. This is a no-contest for me.

    Gladys does a nice job, but I’ve never been a fan of her style of singing.

    I’m a big CCR fan and that 11 minute rendition is one that I’ve grooved to many times. This version of the songs is among the best things CCR ever did in my opinion. Cutting the song short worked for the radio as well as for this Battle and it gives the flavor of how they performed it without giving all the cool jams the long version has.

    A big hearty swampy vote for CCR.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Join us on May 4 with your post of Reflections about this year’s A to Z.
    Tossing It Out


  3. I love Marvin Gaye’s version, and I hadn’t expected to like another take on it quite so much – but I got prickles at the back of my neck listening to CCR. Now what was that about?!


  4. I’m a big CCR fan, so I’m going with them. The music’s better and there’s just something I love about John Fogerty’s voice. Also, I love the more melancholy sound of theirs.


  5. I prefer Marvin Gaye over Gladys Knight. Now, I grew up listening to CCR’s version and it’s really, really good! It’s a hard number to beat. So, I don’t know which I like overall the best between Gaye and CCR. I could go either way depending on the mood I’m in, but since CCR is one of my all-time favorites then I’m gonna give my vote to CCR! Good battle, John!


  6. Hi, John! Thanks a million for coming to SDMM today and casting your vote in my first BOTB. I am very happy to meet you, my friend!

    You have staged a battle between two very evenly matched contenders. In this corner, in the red trunks, we have Gladys Knight & the Pips, one of the finest soul acts of the 60s. I realize their string of hits extended well into the 70s but, in my opinion, they lost their authentic soul sound by the end of the 60s. In this corner, in the blue trunks, John Fogerty and CCR, a Frisco band that sounded like they emerged from the primordial soup of the Louisiana Bayou. At one point during my years as a record collector, I owned every Creedence album and “Grapevine” was indeed a killer kover, especially if you took the whole ride and rocked out to the full length version. This is a very tough decision for me but, in the end, I need to stick to my Dell Rat roots and go with the recording I like even more than the one by Marvin Gaye, the underrated version of “Grapevine” performed by soul siren Gladys Knight. My vote goes to the Pips! Thanks, John!


  7. JOHN ~
    I’m glad to see that you have met our newest BOTBer, Shady Del Knight.

    Not long ago, when Shecky Shady Shaft (as I call him) was contemplating becoming a regular BOTBer with the rest of us, he asked me a number of questions about it.

    In my reply, I gave him a rundown of the sorts of music the different BOTBers most often used in their Battles. I mentioned that in my opinion the two BOTBers who generally mined the most similar material for their Battles were you and me.

    Having said that, you won’t be surprised that just minutes ago I crossed off my list of ‘Future BOTB Match-Ups’… Marvin Gaye and CCR doing ‘…GRAPEVINE’.

    This is a tough one because both versions are great. I love the funky Soul sound of Gladys And The Pips, but also that “swampy” CCR sound on this track. It’s such a great song that there’s probably no bad recording of it.

    I was once a huge CCR fan, but I eventually got tired of them. There are even a few CCR songs that, if they come through my truck radio today, I will change stations on them. For example: ‘Down On The Corner (Willy And The Poor Boys’). Don’t EVER need to hear that song again (even though I used to dig it).

    But I still very much dig CCR on ‘…GRAPEVINE’, and so that’s where my vote lands in what was a pretty tough BOTB installment for me to vote on, as I think BOTH versions are terrific!

    [Now quit stealing my songs! [;-)}

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’


  8. Oh, by far, my vote is for CCR. I love CCR and definitely prefer their version. As for CCR vs. Marvin Gaye: it would be a toss-up on that one. I like them both. Gladys Knight did a great job but CCR’s version revs me up more. Good battle!
    Michele at Angels Bark


  9. No contest John; CCR all the way. Loved Glady’s (and yes her hair was fabulous) version, she is just an awesome singer, and her Pips are cool. But that kinda percussion sound of CCR just blows me away. I like it better than Marvin’s.


  10. Since for some reason you’re not including Marvin’s which is the only one I really like, and though I like CCR 11 minutes of the same song……on my no…bored. By default only Gladys.


  11. When I first saw your contenders, I thought no contest…I love Gladys and her Pips, but when I hear that ‘hard beat’ and the unmistakable CCR sound, I was romances directly away from Ms. Knight and those darling Pips.

    I just gotta give my vote to CCR, not a fan of all their stuff, but this one caught and held on.

    BTW, Glady’s hair is fantastic, but probably a wig or at least a hairpiece. It never occurred to me that most of those styles, like this one, worn by black women, were wigs, until I moved to the Caribbean and the ‘girlfriends’ down there clued me in. They got a mighty laugh on me thinking that ‘their hair’ would do THAT.


  12. CCR all the way. I love the rockabilly style (Is that right??) and the voices just go so well with the song. Gladys and her Pips are great and she doesn’t even seem to be trying (although at this time on TV they often lip synched). She has a powerful voice but it didn’t so as much for me as CCR


  13. It looks like I’m going to give CCR an even bigger edge. I love that CCR took a Motown song and put their country-rock stamp on it. It’s so fun. As you say, it kicks ass.


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