Best Version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" a Poll

Limiting the selection to the “Original Three” plus the CCR version, since the CCR version is pretty popular.

The Motown recordings were released in the opposite order from the order in which they were recorded. The song was floating around within the walls of Motown for quite some time getting recorded and not released.

Since each of the first three acts recorded a song that had not yet been released by another artist, I would say that none of them were doing a cover version. So, we’ll call these the “Original Three”:

In order of release: Gladys Knight and the Pips, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
In order of recording:Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight and the Pips
When CCR did it, they were definitely doing a cover. Lots of other acts have covered the song, but this one is the most popular cover version- so I am including it in the poll.

Have another favorite version?
Feel free to include it in discussion, but this is a “forced choice” poll limited to the four acts described above.

Hint: The CORRECT ANSWER is: Gladys Knight and the Pips because their version kicks all the other versions’ asses. Cheat on Marvin, you’ll make him sad but cheat on Gladys and she’ll hunt you down and chew your ass out!

I object to the lack of a California Raisins option.

I object to the lack of a Kaiser Chiefs option. :slight_smile:

To the list you have selected, all of the times when the song is played on the radio I’ve heard the Marvin Gaye so that would have been the one I should have chosen. However, in the interest of fairness I listened to the other versions and I feel that the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles version is the best.

I’ve only ever heard the Marvin Gaye and CCR versions. Sorry, I think CCR’s version is better. In fact, they are who I was thinking of when I read the thread title.

I refuse to choose between Marvin Gaye and CCR. They are both awesome songs, although Gaye is by far the better singer.

The Gladys Knight version for me, although I would venture that a lot of folks have never heard it. Try this on for size.

I’m a CCR fan, so their my pick. Although I do like the Marvin Gaye version too.

The OP is insane. Marvin did the one and only version that counts. Although CCR does a great cover.

Marvin’s, for fuck’s sake.

I hold Marvin’s vocal performance on that song to be one of the all time best, I have to go with his version. One of my top-few singles.

I’ve always preferred the Gladys Knight and The Pips version to the far better known Marvin Gaye version, although both are exceptional pieces of work. CCR’s version is just OK for me and I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t ever heard the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles version (although I will when I get home tonight).

I love CCR mostly, but on this song CCR got the words wrong. Blah.

Marvin Gaye’s version kicks all kinds of ass.

If by “best” you mean “favorite,” then I have to go with CCR. But all four versions are great.

CCR’s version is my favorite, largely because I simply prefer guitar rock to Motown.

However, having only previously seen pictures/videos of Gladys Knight in her later years, I looked up this Soul Train performance of the song and was pleasantly surprised. Man, she was just … adorable!

Marvin’s in the one. Scarifying vocal, and a lush but urgent arrangement. Gladys is great, but she overembellishes it, I think. Smokey’s version sounds a little low-budget by comparison to the others. CCR’s version is fun, with a nice extended groove and an awesome Fogerty vocal, but there’s a reason why CCR is best known for their < 3-minute perfect pop songs.

The point of the song is that it is 1.) ominous and 2.) conveys the rhythmic feeling of a rumor passed on and on and on through a grapevine or, by association, by drumbeats. It is a very deceptively sophisticated song that only Gaye nails. Deep and dark and, as Biffy notes, terrifying.

I voted for Marvin Gaye, though my personal favorite is the funktastic Zapp version.

I like the Flying Pickets’ a capella version.

My favorite is the haunting live rendition by the Doug Anthony All Stars c. 1990. Probably unknown to most outside Australia and the UK.

I’ve always loved John Fogerty and the boys, but I’m afraid they come up third here.


Though, none of them make me want to pierce my ear drums with an olive pick (like, say, ELO’s version of “Roll Over Beethoven”). It’s a great song and all of the above do it justice in their own way.