BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “I Can’t Move No Mountains”

I’m writing this on December 30 of last year, because I’m learning that it’s best to put these battles together when I think of them, rather than trying to remember what song I was going to feature, because (a) I have a brain like a sieve and (b) I always tell myself, “I don’t need to write that down, I’ll remember it,” which, as anyone over the age of 50 (and even younger) will tell you, is a fallacy. Anyway, I just got finished with Song Lyric Sunday for today, and the opportunity presented itself…

Robert John, who recorded “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” in 1972 and reached #1 with “Sad Eyes” in 1979, and his songwriting partner Michael Gately wrote the song “I Can’t Move No Mountains” sometime in the late ’60’s to early ’70’s (The Blogger’s Best Friend™ doesn’t have an article on it, so I’m doing my best here). Since then, it’s been recorded by a number of acts, including the two that will be duking it out here. As far as I can tell, these are the first two acts that committed it to vinyl (this was, after all, the early ’70’s). Your job will be to listen to both and decide who did a better version of it.

Blood Sweat & Tears BS&T recorded the song for their 1972 album New Blood. They released it as a single, and it failed to chart. They all can’t be winners.

The Free Movement BS&T’s labelmates, who had limited success after 1971’s “I Found Someone Of My Own,” recorded it in 1973 and released it as a non-album single. Likewise, it failed to chart, and it was their last record, going their separate ways shortly thereafter.

Okay, you know what to do now: listen to both tracks, decide which one you like better, and vote for it with a comment below, telling us why you liked it better if you want. Then, go visit Stephen, the de facto guy in charge of Battle of the Bands. He’ll have a battle of his own, and he also has a list (in the right-hand column of his blog) which lists the other participants in BotB. Vote in Stephen’s battle, and visit the others and vote in their battles, too. Remember, you need not be a participant in Battle of the Bands to vote and make your voice heard. (And, if, after you’ve seen what a great deal of fun this is and would like to participate yourself, let Stephen know and he’ll add you to the list.) I’ll tally the votes and let everyone know the winner next Tuesday, January 22, so be sure and have your vote in to me by then.

The lines are now open. Good luck to Blood Sweat & Tears and The Free Movement!

16 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “I Can’t Move No Mountains”

  1. I’m going to go with The Free Movement, but I think I know why this didn’t chart for either of them. I guess this was during one of the ‘No David Clayton Thomas’ eras with BS&T

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  2. Kind of an interesting song–a new one to me. Guess I’d already stopped following BS&T when this album was released so I missed their version and Free Movement never moved into my radar, ever.

    Free Movement’s version wasn’t anything extraordinary for me, but neither was the BS&T version. However, that being said, BS&T was more extraordinary then their competition.

    A vote for Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  3. Howdy, JOHN!

    Funny, but Dan Antion wrote what I was thinking even before reading his comment.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before, and like Dan said, I believe I get why this song never charted. It’s not really a stand-out to me. And that’s NOT something I would say about many BS&T recordings. I like them quite a bit, but this song? Yeah, not so much. It’s not bad at all, but it just doesn’t grab me.

    As far as I can recall (but, like you, I’m over 50, so…), I’d never even heard of THE FREE MOVEMENT before. However, I most definitely preferred their rendition of the song. It seemed to have more life, with all those voices involved and I kind of enjoyed it. At least in comparison to its competition. In this Battle, I only needed to listen to both tracks once and my preference was immediately known to me.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    STMcC Presents BATTLE OF THE BANDS

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  4. John,

    Oh, yeah I have to do my battles when I think of them or at the very list make a note. I certainly can’t remember a song when the time comes if I leave it to my memory. It’s in one brain cell and out another, just like that!

    This is new to my ears. I’m giving my vote to Blood, Sweat, & Tears. TFM did set well with my ears. I can’t put my finger on it but it didn’t click right but BST really put me in the groove. Thanks for the introduction and fine battle.

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  5. As a huge BS&T fan, they just aren’t the same without David Clayton Thomas and the horns sound very weak here. I wouldn’t put either arrangement in my playlist, but I think Free Movement gets the nod here.

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  6. Free Movement for me. As I’ve said before, it’s probably an age thing, but I can’t imagine listening to the other group for very long.

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