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Clarence Ewing: The Million Year Trip writesTake Two: “The Loco-motion” (Little Eva Vs. Grand Funk Railroad Vs. Kylie Minogue)

by Eddie Sayago

There is a chance that you have come across a song (or two, or so many more) that you enjoy and did not realize that it's either been covered by someone else or is a cover itself. We hope that this series allows you to appreciate both the original and the covers they have inspired, and to seek out and enjoy new music in the process.

The Original: Little Eva “The Loco-motion” From the album The Loco-Motion (1962, Dimension)

Dance crazes are a staple of pop culture, and back in 1962, “The Loco-motion” was a dance song that supposedly made listeners happy “even when you’re feeling blue.” Written by Gerry Coffin and Carole King for another singer in mind, Dee Dee Sharp, (whose signature song is the dance-fad song “Mashed Potato Time”) who rejected the song, thus allowing their sometime-babysitter, a 19 year old Eva Boyd, to record it. Boyd became Little Eva and “The Loco-Motion” was a big hit, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Little Eva was an overnight success whose popularity was short-lived. Her last hit single was in 1963 and by the end of the '60s, she stopped performing and moved to North Carolina with her children. She died in 2003 from cervical cancer.

 

 

The Cover: Grand Funk Railroad “The Loco-motion” From the album Shinin’ On (1974, Capitol)

If you ask someone about the rock band Grand Funk Railroad, they will either scratch their head and assume you made them up to stump them for a segment on a comedy show or they will immediately mention their two biggest hits; “Some Kind of Wonderful” and “The Loco-motion” (both covers originally recorded in the 1960s). Produced by Todd Rundgren, they doubled down on heavy drums, guitars, and layers of harmonies that made it sound like everyone was singing along at different times and it was edited together in post-production. There’s a lot going on, and it’s overwhelming. It sounds more like a parody of a dance song than a genuine homage to the dance craze but hey, they got a #1 hit out of it and a mention on our blog nearly half a century after the song’s release.

 

 

The Cover: Kylie Minogue “The Loco-motion” From the album Kylie (1988, BMG)

Like Boyd, Kylie was also a 19 year old who got an opportunity to record and perform “The Loco-motion” while taking a break from her day job, which was acting in the soap opera Neighbours. After performing “The Loco-motion” at a benefit concert, she signed a record deal to record her self-titled debut album, which was released in 1988. Her cover was the debut single and went to #3 in the U.S., making it the first time (and possibly only time) a song hit the Top 3 by three different music acts. While Minogue’s debut kicked off a successful music career in her native Australia, the U.K. and Europe, “The Loco-Motion” was her only major commercial hit stateside...until her ‘comeback’ in early 2002 when “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and her album Fever became a massive success, cementing her status as a pop music/LGBTQ icon in America.

 

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Categorized: Take Two

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