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‘Handy Man’ by James Taylor – Classic Hit or Miss

“Handy Man” is a rock and roll song credited to singer Jimmy Jones and songwriter Otis Blackwell. It was originally recorded by The Sparks Of Rhythm, a group Jones had been a member of when he wrote it, although he was not with them when they recorded it. In 1959, Jones recorded the song himself, in a version which had been reworked by Blackwell , who also produced the session. “Handy Man” went to number three on the R&B charts and number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960, becoming a million seller.

The song is noted for the “Come-uh come-uh come-uh come come,/Yeagh Yeagh Yeagh”, heard in the introduction and the coda. The song was a hit again in 1964 for Del Shannon and again in 1977 for James Taylor. Measured in terms of peak position on any Billboard chart, Taylor’s version of the song was the most successful, peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the adult contemporary chart. Taylor’s version also earned him his second Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Male. Taylor’s version featured Leah Kunkel, the ex wife of Russ Kunkel, as backup singer.

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