BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Town Without Pity”


Betcha didn’t think I’d get to this, didja?

Town Without Pity (or, if you prefer, Stadt Ohne Mitleid) was a 1961 movie starring Kirk Douglas, Christine Kaufmann, and E. G. Marshall. The title song, written by Dmitri Tiomkin with lyrics by Ned Washington, was sung by Gene Pitney. It received a Golden Globe for “Best Motion Picture Song” and was nominated for an Oscar for “Best Music, Original Song.” It was released as a single in October 1961, and reached #13 in the US and #10 in Canada. Here’s the original version, which is not part of the contest.

There are a number of covers available on YouTube, and I think I listened to just about all of them. The two I liked best were done by the Stray Cats and Ronnie Montrose, so I didn’t use either of them. These are the “second tier” versions, ones that I liked almost as much.

CONTESTANT #1: Eddi Reader Ms. Reader’s version appeared on her 1996 album Candyfloss and Medicine. No idea how well it did on the chart.

CONTESTANT #2: Sha Na Na featuring Johnny Cantardo A highlight of my week back in the Eighties was staying up to watch Saturday Night Live, SCTV, Sha Na Na, The Hudson Brothers, and Tales of the Unexpected. I don’t think I saw this episode from Season 4, because I would have remembered this.

So, now it’s your turn: which version do you like the best, Eddi Reader’s or Sha Na Na’s? Give both a listen and cast your vote in the comments below. Then, go to these blogs, which might be having Battles of their own.

I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday, March 7, so get your vote to me by then. The lines are now open. Best of luck to Eddi Reader and Sha Na Na!

22 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Town Without Pity”

  1. I’m late this week…Wednesdays are always a busy day and I had a busy week. I like the James Bond flair in the Eddi Readers version. I like Sha Na Na but I still give it to the sultry gal


  2. Sha Na Na for me. I like straight forward singers. In order to like this, however, you have to get over the guys strutting around in top hats in the background.


  3. John, I love the vintage feel of this battle! You pitted two fabulous artists with two excellent versions. However, I think the sultry female vibes of Eddi Readers won me over instantly! Now, I want to hear more of her stuff if it sounds like this! 🙂


  4. Good Battle, JOHN.
    I’d never heard of Eddi Reader before, but she’s getting my vote. Terrific musicianship on that track! The video was a shade disturbing, but it was a great rendition.

    Now, I’m really curious about something and want to pose a question. You wrote: “The two I liked best were done by the Stray Cats and Ronnie Montrose, so I didn’t use either of them. These are the “second tier” versions, ones that I liked almost as much.”

    I was wondering why you didn’t use your two favorites against each other. Because in the vast majority of circumstances, that’s precisely what I would have done, unless I felt that for some reason they didn’t match up well (e.g., maybe just TOO similar sounding, or something like that). Did you think they wouldn’t make for a good Battle for some reason? Or is there some other reason you went with “second tier versions”?

    ~ D-FensDogG
    Check out my new blog @
    (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews…


    1. Montrose’s version was an instrumental, while the Stray Cats had a vocal. Every time I have an instrumental against a vocal, the instrumental does poorly. I considered putting Stray Cats up against both of these versions, but didn’t think it would be a fair fight. So I put the two second-tier versions up against each other.


      1. Ahh, I see. Yeah, Instrumental Vs. Vocal is tricky. For Jazz guys like you and me, it’s not really a big deal. (Lots of times I would vote for the Instrumental, feeling that words were just in the way — I can “feel” this just fine and don’t need to be “told” about it.)

        But BOTB is predominately Rock fans, so I think an Instrumental is usually at a disadvantage against a Vocal track.

        Sounds like I would have made the same decision. Thanks for responding.

        ~ D-FensDogG
        Check out my new blog @
        (Link:] Stephen T. McCarthy Reviews…


  5. Okay, this round of Battle has gotten too weird. First Cathy had her match of international versions of a late 50’s song like I also did. And then, thinking about my song pick and songs that reminded of it, the song “Town Without Pity” started running through my head much of this morning. And here you show up with that song.

    Are we all getting on the same wavelength or something? Very strange.

    Anyway this is a great song of which I have been a fan since it first came out.

    Sha Na Na, being essentially the cover band that they are with fairly faithful versions of originals, stays true to the original and do a great job. Eddi also stays pretty true to the original with a bigger production which is very entertaining.

    Of the two, I’m going to give my vote of preference to Sha Na Na as they give the song the greater angst that it deserves, but it’s really a pretty tough choice.

    Next time if we all keep on this wavelength we might end up doing the same song by the same artist picks!

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


  6. Gene Pitney is from Somers/Rockville, CT which is about 10 miles from here. More important, my wife says “that’s Gene Pitney’s song. There is no other version.” So, there you have it.

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