Regular readers of this blog may remember that we’re fascinated by the differences between 45 versions of certain hit songs and their original album versions. In many cases, the 45s are “lost”—it’s the album versions that show up on radio station playlists and CD compilations today, and with the passage of time, listeners forget, or are never aware, that the 45 versions ever existed. But the album versions of many AM hits were almost never heard back in the day. Only with the rise of interest in oldies as a radio format and a marketing category have they emerged from obscurity. Record companies are complicit in this—oftentimes they aren’t particularly rigorous about which versions they include on or license for compilations. You may not be able to tell whether you’ve got 45 versions or album versions on that CD you just bought by reading the jewelcase—often, you can tell only by listening, or perhaps by checking the timings. To many people, this probably doesn’t matter all that much, but it’s a distortion of history nevertheless: When the kids were diggin’ “Joy to the World” in 1971, it was the 45 mix they were hearing, and not the far-less-exciting album version.
So anyway: here’s one of my favorite alternate 45 versions. When you listen to it, you’ll be shocked at how different it is from the album version that gets played everywhere today: Eddie Money’s “Two Tickets to Paradise.” When it came on the radio in the fall of 1978, it was one of the ass-kickin’est records in years. Thirty years later, it doesn’t kick quite as hard when it comes on the radio, because the only version you ever hear is the one from Money’s debut album. Here’s that version:
But the single– which was the version that got people’s attention 30 years ago—is an almost entirely different performance. The vocal is a different take, with somewhat different lyrics, vocal interjections before the words “two tickets to paradise,” and whoa-whoa-whoas backing the verse the second time through. There’s a guitar line that punctuates each “waited so long,” and the solo is different, too. The mix is generally hotter, and even the ending is different. The single version of “Two Tickets to Paradise” is about 50 seconds shorter than the album version, but in this case, more is definitely not better.
If you’re into this kind of thing, there’s a lot more about other “lost” 45s here.