Who Recorded ‘Heart and Soul’ First Before Huey Lewis and the News?

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Song: Heart and Soul (1981)

Artist: Exile

Album: Heart and Soul

Writers: Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn

Label: Warner Curb Records

Heart and Soul is undoubtedly one of the most infectious songs from a group known for infectious rock/pop songs, Huey Lewis and the News. I am a huge News fan and always have been. I feel they never get their due. And Heart and Soul certainly sounds like any other News song. But dues must be given to the originator of the song, Exile, of Kiss You All Over fane, and now a legendary country group in their own right.

Exile released their version of Heart and Soul in 1981. Their version is great and you’ll find that Huey Lewis and the News was very true to the original recordings, with some crucial differences. Exile’s version never quite made it to the top 100 though. Then, the Busboys recorded a somewhat punk version in 1982 which also failed to reach the top of the charts.

Huey Lewis and the News released their cover of the tune the next year as part of their hugely successful album Sports. It was one of two songs with heart in the title, the other being Heart of Rock and Roll. It’s hard to say how much the success of the album itself propelled the cover, but it peaked at no. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in November of 1983, spending 21 weeks on the charts.

Heart of Rock and Roll charted the following year, peaking at no. 6 in June, spending 20 weeks on the charts. Of course, these were not the only hits from Sports:

  • I Want A New Drug: No. 6, March 1984 (19 weeks on chart)
  • If This is It: No. 6, September 1984 (17 weeks on chart)
  • Walking a Thin Line: no. 18, December 1984 (15 weeks on chart)

Heart and Soul was written by Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn. It was the title track of Exile’s sixth studio album but, ironically, it was their second album after moving into, or at least flirting with, the country genre. The song peaked at no. 102 on the Billboard Hot 100. Huey Lewis and the News, on the other hand, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Rock Vocal, group.

Exile’s original version of the song is just as good as the News version in a lot of ways. But I do think that the News brought the song to its true potential. The arrangement was a bit more listenable, less jangly and busy, while still being true to the original. Huey Lewis, while following the original vocals in the verses (although singing it better), made much better choices in the chorus. Exile’s original vocals almost shout and growl the chorus. After hearing the Huey Lewis vocals first, you may find it jarring and offputting. It sounds almost angry.

This is to take nothing from Exile. They’ve been responsible for some of the most famous country songs ever. Their first country hit happened in 1983 with High Cost of Leaving and this was followed by a string of no. 1 hits on the country charts from 1982 to 1987 along with other charting success, not to mention their songs being famously covered by other country acts such as Alabama.

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