Play With Fire – Andrew Oldham Orchestra

I have to say I like this as much as the original and if there was a vocal version I’d probably like it better. The Andrew Oldham Orchestra, a studio group put together by Oldham (who was the Rolling Stones original manager and producer) released five albums during the 1960s including The Rolling Stones Songbook in 1965. Also appearing on that album was a version of The Last Time, which caused decades of misery for The Verve after they sampled it for Bittersweet Symphony.

Originally the B-Side of The Last Time, Play With Fire was recorded in Los Angeles with Phil Spector (who also played bass on the track) and later appeared on the American release of their 1965 album Out Of Our Heads.

Listen to Cover to Cover on Spotify

Cover to Cover on YouTube


Bittersweet Symphony – Booost / The Last Time – The Andrew Oldham Orchestra

Swiss reggae band Booost covered The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony on their eponymous 2013 album.

The string loop of Bittersweet Symphony, released by The Verve in 1997, is sampled from the 1965 Andrew Oldham Orchestra’s instrumental cover of the Rolling Stones’ 1965 song The Last Time, itself inspired by This May Be the Last Time, a 1954 recording by the Staple Singers which was an arrangement of a traditional song.

The Verve negotiated rights to use a six-note sample from Oldham’s recording from Decca Records, but they did not obtain permission from former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein, who owned the copyrights to the Rolling Stones’ pre-1970 songs. Klein refused to grant a licence for the sample, leading to The Verve relinquishing all royalties from the song and the songwriting credits being changed to Jagger-Richards. In 1999, Andrew Oldham successfully sued for his own royalty share which he had never received, and for many subsequent years all songwriting royalties from Bittersweet Symphony went to Jagger-Richards-Oldham.

It would be a further twenty years before an agreement was finally reached, with The Verve receiving a share of the royalties to Bittersweet Symphony from 2019 onwards.

Neither the late Shirley Joiner, the arranger of The Staple Singers’ This May Be the Last Time, or her estate has ever received any royalties from any of the songs inspired by her original arrangement.