“Covering the Hits” looks at covers of a randomly-selected #1 hit from the past sixty-odd years.
“All Night Long (All Night)” is the fifth of seven chart-topping singles in Lionel Richie’s career, two with the Commodores (“Three Times a Lady,” “Still”) followed by five under its own name. The extremely goofy parenthetical in the title clearly did not impact the song’s journey towards the top. Nor its legacy either; some of these chart-toppers we look at in Covering the Hits did not, in fact, get covered much. “All Night Long (All Night)” – that’s the last time I’m writing that parenthetical – still gets covered constantly. I mean, have you ever been to a wedding?
But below we’ll dig a little deeper into the most notable and most interesting covers, from the ‘80s through just last month.
1984: Miami Vice band
The very first “All Night Long” cover I can find came only a few months after Richie’s original, and appeared in a pretty high-profile slot: The very first episode of ’80s TV sensation Miami Vice. It’s played by an anonymous nightclub band while Philip Michael Thomas gets into a tense staredown and Don Johnson has dinner. The show must have had a hell of a music budget; that very first episode also features “In the Air Tonight,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Miss You,” and “What’s Love Got to do With It.”
1985: Big Daddy
The first real cover – that is, by a real band with an actual name, not just background music in a TV show – came from novelty covers act Big Daddy. Their shtick was turning modern pops hits into ‘50s pastiches, and they do a fine job with “All Night Long,” giving it a little early-rock-and-roll sax and doo-wop backing vocals.
1985: Jose Feliciano
Jose Feliciano also started covering the song live this year. The big production feels like a bit of a waste of his talents, to be honest, but he does take several sick electric guitar solos, shredding like he’s Eddie Van Halen. I don’t think he ever recorded it.
198?: Gloria/Glenda Ifill And The Equitables
Given the song’s island rhythms, it has become a particular staple of Latin and Caribbean music. One of the first examples I can find came from a group called Gloria/Glenda Ifill And The Equitables. One version of the single calls her Glenda, one calls her Gloria – whoops! Whatever her name is, this appears to be the only thing she ever released. It came out on the prolific Caribbean label Straker’s Records. Discogs says in 1983, but given that the original came out late that year, I suspect that’s wrong.
Italian disco duo Radiorama released this as a 12” single for the clubs. This song makes a lot of sense for the early ‘90s electronica fad.
At some of their early live shows, New England rock band Guster ended with a Lionel Richie medley blending five of his biggest hits. Of course, it all builds to “All Night Long.” This version comes from a University of New Hampshire show that someone had the wherewithal to tape.
1999: Tufts Beelzebubs
Speaking of colleges, “All Night Long” has also become an a cappella staple. This version comes from the Tufts Beelzebubs, who actually put it on an album, but a very similar version is probably being sung in a fraternity house or dorm lounge somewhere in the world right now.
2009: Jason Mraz
Jason Mraz put this version on his live album and DVD Beautiful Mess: Live on Earth. Personally, I hate everything about this, from his embarrassing dance moves to his stupid little hat. But I’m including it because it’s one of the more prominent covers.
2010: Templeton Pek
As you might guess from the cover art of a guy with his head in a toilet, this is not going to be a safe and polite cover. British punk band Templeton Pek turns the amps to 11 for this big distorted holler-along.
Swedish electropop quartet covered “All Night Long” in 2011 as a spacey slow-burn. The beat never quite drops, but it does grow and morph in its latter half, bringing in some unexpected “Hey Jude” horns. They wrote by way of description, “The Northern Light is slowly returning and insomnia strikes again. An after hours cover for all friends nocturnal.”
2012: My Morning Jacket
“All Night Long” is hardly a staple of the My Morning Jacket live show, but they occasionally bring it out for special occasions: various New Years Eve shows, their 2014 cruise One Big Holiday, etc. Complete with a horn section, it looks supremely fun. It’s not the only Lionel Richie song in their back pockets, either; they’ve covered The Commodores’ “Easy” a few times too.
2013: Ciaran Lavery
I know what you’ve been thinking: “When are we going to get to the inevitable sad, stripped-back cover?” Well, here we are! Irish singer Ciaran Lavery included it on his covers EP Other People Wrote These. He actually covered not one but two 2022 Rock Hall inductees on it; the previous track is an equally slow, melancholy version of Pat Benatar’s “All Fired Up.”
2018: Jacob Collier
Piano-pop wunderkind Jacob Collier actually won a Grammy for this cover! Appearing on his 2018 album Djesse Vol. 1, it won “Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals” in 2020. That same year he also won “Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella” for his many-singered version of “Moon River.” Then the year after that, he won another “Best Arrangement” Grammy, and was nominated for Album of the Year too. The Grammy people really love Jacob Collier. As his elaborate covers often do, “All Night Long” brings in an enormous number of musicians: gospel vocal group Take 6 as well as the giant Metropole Orkest and the equally giant The Aeolians of Oakwood University choir.
On the other end of the technical-skill spectrum from Collier comes this live version from the annual comedians-singing fundraiser Thundergong! Can Jason Sudeikis, Will Forte, or Sam Richardson sing? Not really. But I’ll bet it was a blast.
2019: Benjamin Ingrosso
There are two covers that get their own sections on the “All Night Long” Wikipedia page. One is Collier’s Grammy-winner. The other is a 2019 version by Swedish singer Benjamin Ingrosso. He had been Sweden’s entrant into Eurovision the previous year, coming in seventh. It’s a synthpop cover with tropical house overtones. Here’s a video of him promoting it on TV in a pretty dramatic setting. It reached number five on the Swedish charts.
2021: Aloe Blacc
Aloe Blacc recorded a cover of “All Night Long” for use in ESPN’s Monday Night Football back in 2019. It took a couple years for him to release it properly, though. It’s a fun modern take on the song, updated from the ‘80s original but with a lot of the same spirit.
2022: Adam A Nelson
As I was wrapping up my search, I wondered, has anyone ever mashed up “All Night Long” with AC/DC’s “You Shoot Me All Night Long”? Yes! Just a few weeks ago, in fact! Live Mashups are YouTube pianoman Adam A Nelson’s thing, and though this is a DIY video, the arrangement is seriously inventive. Jacob Collier should give this guy a call.
Check out the rest of our 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame features here!