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29th October 2021
Released in November 1956 this gem of a song was not expected to do particularly well due to the composer/singer's African American heritage and the style of the song (Rock 'n' Roll). It contains grunts and snarling of an animalistic nature and while today this wouldn't be an issue, at the time it brought about an automatic mainstream ban. Consequently this song never charted in the US Billboard charts but still managed to sell over a million copies! With it's origins in R&B it became one of the first "Shock Rock" songs with Screamin' Jay rising from a coffin, at the start of the song, in voodooesque garb, wearing a cape and tusks in his nose. It gained him the colloquial title of the "Black Vincent Price" and quite a cult following.
Arguably, one of the best well-known covers to this song is by Nina Simone. This classic jazz style rendition from 1965 reached No. 23 in the US Charts and No. 49 in the UK (although it was released again in the UK reaching No. 28 in 1969).
Giving the R&B song a stronger rock influence, Credence Clearwater Revival released a cover of I Put A Spell On You in 1968, reaching No. 58 in the US Charts.
There has certainly been a group of notable covers including Marilyn Manson, Joe Cocker, Bryan Ferry etc. However, it would be remiss not to mention the highest charting cover artist - Sonique. Significantly updated into a electro-dance track (and popular in strip clubs), it was released in 1998 (reaching No. 36) and reissued in 2000, when the song finally hit the top ten with a No. 8 position.
The song has been used in a few films: Screamin' Jay's original version is prominently played in the 1984 US movie "Stranger Than Paradise" (it's worth looking out for it); the 1993 Walt Disney movie "Hocus Pocus" with a version sung by Bette Midler; and in the 2015 film "50 Shades of Grey" sung by Annie Lennox:
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