Release Me (1946 song)

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"Release Me"
Single by Little Esther Phillips
Released 1962
Writer(s) Eddie Miller
James Pebworth
Robert Yount

"Release Me" (sometimes rendered as "Release Me (And Let Me Love Again)", is a popular song written by Eddie Miller, Robert Yount, and James Pebworth[1] under the pseudonym Dub Williams,[2][3] published in 1946 .

Miller wrote the song in 1946 but could not get anyone to record it for years, so he recorded it himself in 1949. Shortly afterward it was covered by Jimmy Heap, and with even better success by Ray Price and Kitty Wells. Subsequently a big seller was recorded by Little Esther Phillips, who reached number one on the R&B chart and number eight on the pop chart.[4] A version by Engelbert Humperdinck reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.[5]

The Engelbert Humperdinck song has the distinction in the UK of holding the number-one slot in the chart for six weeks during March and April 1967, and preventing The Beatles single, "Penny Lane" / "Strawberry Fields Forever", from reaching the top. "Release Me" was also the highest selling single of 1967 in the UK, recording over one million sales, and eventually became one of the best selling singles of all time with sales of 1.38 million copies.[6]

In country music[edit]

"Release Me"
Single by Ray Price
A-side I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)
Released January 1954
Format 7"
Recorded December 28, 1953
Castle Studio at The Tulane Hotel
Nashville, Tennessee
Genre Country
Label Columbia 4-21214
Writer(s) Eddie Miller
James Pebworth
Robert Yount
Producer(s) Don Law
Ray Price singles chronology
""Leave Her Alone""
(1953)
"Release Me"/"I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)"
(1954)
"I'm Much too Young to Die"
(1954)

In country music, "Release Me" became a hit for both Jimmy Heap and Ray Price, both in 1954. Even though Price had several major hits beforehand, "Release Me" is sometimes considered his breakthrough hit. The song had elements of the 4/4 shuffle, Price's signature sound that would become more evident on future successes such as "Crazy Arms."

Price's version was part of a double-A sided hit, paired with another song that introduced fans to the 4/4 shuffle: "I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)." Both sides went on to become major hits for Price, with "Release Me" peaking at No. 6 and "I'll Be There" stopping at No. 2.

Engelbert Humperdinck version[edit]

"Release Me"
Single by Engelbert Humperdinck
B-side "Ten Guitars"
Released 1967
Format 7"
Genre Pop
Length 3:18
Label Decca Records F12541[5]
Producer(s) Charles Blackwell[5]
Engelbert Humperdinck singles chronology
"Dommage Dommage" (1966) "Release Me"
(1967)
"There Goes My Everything"
(1967)

The story of how the song reached number one in the UK Singles Chart[7] is one of pure chance and being in the right place at the right time. In 1965, Humperdinck, who at the time was performing under the name of Gerry Dorsey, met up again with an old friend of his, Gordon Mills. By this time Mills was successfully managing Tom Jones. He took him onto his management roster and changed his name. He released a couple of near misses in the UK although one song "Dommage, Dommage" had been successful in Europe.[5]

Early in 1967, Humperdinck was asked to stand in for Dickie Valentine, who was ill, on the variety TV show Sunday Night at the London Palladium.[5] The show was one of the biggest rating shows in the UK at the time. He sang his latest song, "Release Me", an old US country hit, on the show and it reached number one in the UK Singles Chart on 2 March and stayed there for six weeks, keeping "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever" by The Beatles off the top of the charts in the process.[5] The record stayed in the charts for a record fifty-six consecutive weeks.[8]

The B-side, "Ten Guitars", became a surprise hit in New Zealand among young Maori moving to the cities for work, and not long after, the wider New Zealand music scene itself.[9] 'Ten Guitars' later served as the name for a documentary on New Zealand popular music.[10]

Other versions[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In 1994, an instrumental version of the song was adopted as the theme music to British sketch show The Fast Show. One sketch also featured a performance of the song by comedian Paul Whitehouse as character Kenny Valentine.

The Engelbert Humperdinck recording was featured in the episode "Going to Pot" of the 1970s British sitcom The Good Life.

Journalist and author Peter Hitchens has described Humperdinck's hugely successful version as "the real revolutionary anthem of the Sixties" and "far more influential than Bob Dylan", drawing a comparison between the song's lyrics and the desire of the public to be released from the social conservatism that had prevailed in society until the 1960s.[12]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1967) Peak
position
Irish Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart[13] 1
Dutch Singles Chart 2
New Zealand Singles Chart 2
Australian Kent Music Report 3
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 4
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening 28

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Release Me (Legal Title)". Repertoire.bmi.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  2. ^ Andy Pebworth (2006-03-03). "Release Me - Elvis Presley songs lyrics song lyric". Poemhunter.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  3. ^ "Benny's Place • The Music of The Benny Hill Show, Page 1 (1969–1971)". Runstop.de. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 460. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 108. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  6. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Official Singles Chart UK Top 100". Theofficialcharts.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  8. ^ "Desert Island Discs - Castaway : Engelbert Humperdinck". BBC. 2004-12-19. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  9. ^ "NZ Folk Song * Ten Guitars". Folksong.org.nz. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  10. ^ "Ten Guitars - Television". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 2014-04-06. 
  11. ^ The Hits Collection cd box set, Crimson Records, CRIMBX58, 2006
  12. ^ BBC Radio 4. "Stigma: A Political History". 24 March 2014
  13. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 201–4. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Big Girls Don't Cry" by The Four Seasons
Billboard Hot R&B Singles number-one single
(Little Esther Phillips version)

December 8, 1962
December 22, 1962 – December 29, 1962
Succeeded by
"You Are My Sunshine" by Ray Charles
Preceded by
"This Is My Song" by Petula Clark
UK number-one single (Engelbert Humperdinck version)
2 March 1967 (6 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Somethin' Stupid" by Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra