The Hassles: 4 O’Clock In the Morning
From 7″ (UA, 1968).

The Hassles: 4 O’Clock In the Morning
From Hour of the Wolf (UA, 1969). Also on Billy Joel and the Hassles.

One of the best/worst things about getting hooked on the 7″ as a format is that you feel compelled to find 7″ versions of LP songs you really like. It makes good sense – why not tote along a louder, smaller version of a great song instead of the full (and often quieter) LP? It’s just an expensive habit, especially in those cases where the 7″ version is more obscure (this isn’t always the case but it certainly can be).

So anyway, I noticed there was a 7″ version of The Hassles’ “4 O’Clock In the Morning,” a longtime favorite of mine and since it wasn’t terribly expensive, I figured “cool, I can cop this and sell off the LP.” But then I got it and threw it on at home…and realized, “wait, this isn’t quite the same song.”

It didn’t take me long to figure ah – this is the original version of the tune from this Long Island band, which is to say, back when the group’s lead vocalist was John Dizek (far left above). However, sometime between when the 7″ and the LP was recorded, Dizek bounced and it fell to the group’s pianist, William Joel (aka Billy Joel, far right above) to step up and he reworked the song for the LP, resulting in the version I knew best. For my money, Joel improved on the song, both vocally and musically, but I’m not mad at the original, esp. when it comes into its breakdown 1:15 and psychs it up a bit.

By the way, the LP version also ranks as one of my favorite Billy Joel songs this side of…uh…lemme get back to you on that. (Actually, this song has aged well for me). Also, Beatnuts’ junkies might recognize the LP version as being the source for “We Came Here,” one of the ‘Nuts better unreleased tracks.

Update: A guest in our comments pointed out this awesome “4 in the morning” meme TED talk.