BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In”


So, yesterday was Hallowe’en, or “All Hallows’ Eve.” That would make today’s “All Hallows’ Day,” or as we in the Catholic Church like to call it, All Saints’ Day. But you knew that, right?

For this battle, I decided on an old gospel tune, “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In.” Wikipedia tells us that its origins are not entirely clear, but it appears to have risen from a number of songs from the turn of the century, among them “When The Saints Are Marching In” from 1896 and “The Saints March In For Crowning” from 1908. It started out as a slow and stately hymn apprpriate for “altar calls” and the like. As time went on, the pace picked up and soon it was being played by Dixieland and other jazz bands, and made the move to rock & roll in the 1950’s. In New Orleans, it’s used for funerals, played as a dirge on the way to the cemetery and as a quick march on the way back.

Louis Armstrong, who brought his improvisational skills to Dixieland jazz, did one of the early recordings of the song as a jazz tune. Here is a performance from what looks like the 1960’s. This isn’t part of the battle, but I included it as a sample and because there would be some of you asking why I didn’t include it otherwise.

The two contestants recorded rock versions in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. You have to decide which one you like better.

CONTESTANT #1: Bill Haley and the Comets

Bill and his Comets recorded their version, called “The Saints’ Rock ‘n’ Roll,” in 1955.

CONTESTANT #2: Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers

“The Beat Brothers,” of course, were Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Pete Best, who had met Sheridan on one of their early trips to Hamburg and would occasionally back him in the clubs and on records. This is from the 1964 album The Beatles With Tony Sheridan and Guests, although it was likely recorded earlier than that.

Now, it’s time to vote…

Which of these two rock versions of this song did you think was better? Leave me a comment and tell me which you liked better. I recognize that the sound quality of Tony Sheridan’s recording is a little less than optimal, especially when compared with Bill Haley’s, so be sure and take that into account when making your choice.

Then, be sure and stop by at the other blogs that are doing (or at least might be doing) Battles today and vote in those battles, if you’re so inclined:

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
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den
Angels Bark
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Women: We Shall Overcome
Cherdo on the Flipside
Holli’s Hoots ‘n’ Hollers
J. A. Scott
Quiet Laughter

Be sure and vote by this coming Saturday at 12:01 AM, and I’ll announce the winner later on Saturday.


Author: John Holton

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

15 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In””

  1. Cool time warp presentation, John! Bill Hayley’s version was certainly toe-tapping, but I’m a huge Beatles fan and even this early number with Tony Sheridan has that “flavour” to it. Amazing too, how much Tony Sheridan sounds like Elvis. Please give my vote to the Beat Boys.


  2. I’ve heard this song since I was a kid and never cared for it all that much though it is catchy. I never as I recall have heard the rock versions. An improvement on the song for me.

    The Tony Sheridan version was a bit lackluster against the raucous sound of the Comets. And the horn sections really cinches it with that walking bass and drum solo topping the cake.

    I give the vote to Bill Haley and the Comets, a group that I’ve enjoyed since the 50’s when I was a wee lad.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


  3. I like Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers best. I like the music in this one better and I love how Tony sounds like Elvis! Wow, uncanny. My vote goes to Tony Sheridan please.


  4. I’m sorry, I can’t get past Louis! I love this song. When I was in New Orleans recently I sat on the Steps of the Cathedral and listened to a street band play “When the Saints Go Marching in”. Talk about an experience.


  5. I never thought Rock stars would cover this song. I have to give it to Elvis..I mean Tony Sheridan and his Beat boys. I find their style more original with a hint of the blues and the style of that song from way back. You know…I met Pete Best a few years ago who actually played in my little city. He seemed to be a nice guy…It was for SIDS Awareness


  6. Interesting BATTLE, with two interesting versions. I liked Bill Haley and the Comets version, but Tony Sheridan and the Beat(les) was fantastic. I found that I only skimmed your post and after listening and thinking they sounded vaguely familiar, I went back for a closer look. Only then did I realize it was basically the Beatles backing Tony.

    I vote Tony and boys.


  7. John, No one can out do Louis Armstrong, but I know the drill I gotta choice one, right? 🙂 I really didn’t like the Elvis sound of contender #2; it just didn’t do the song justice. I by far preferred Bill Haley and His Comet. Kindly give my vote to contender #1! Thanks for stopping by and voting today.


  8. It’s true that the quality of Bill Hayley’s recording is better, but I don’t sense much feeling behind the lyrics. He might as well be singing any other song. I vote for Tony Sheridan and The Beat Boys because The Beatles are backing Tony Sheridan, and they’re The Beatles. It also seems more rockin’ to me.



  9. This was an interesting battle, John. Right out of the chute I thought I’d like Bill Haley best. It was rockin’ and rollin’ and then I got bored with it about midway through. When I start thinking, “When is this going to end?”… well, that’s not so good.

    Tony Sheridan sounds very much like Elvis in places. (Not a bad thing) Even though there were fewer instruments in this version, it actually seemed to be more diverse with the arrangement. I particularly liked the middle (or mid-end) when it went all soft and then built back up. It kept me all the way through.

    So, give one to Tony and the gang.


  10. It’s not the sound quality, but I don’t like the second version. The Beatles minus Ringo plus Best. Please give my vote to Bill Haley. I liked their rocking rendition so much more.


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