John Fred was a Louisiana native who had an interesting career in music. His biggest hit by far came in the form of a bubblegum-pop Beatles pastiche called Judy In Disguise (With Glasses), which inexplicably went to #1 in 1967. Today’s offering is a swampy-garage medley of John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen’ and Frankie Lee Sims’ Walkin’ With Frankie. Released on N-Joy in 1964, Boogie Children later also came out on the Jewel label. It didn’t sell nearly as well as Judy In Disguise, but is superior in every other way. What we have here is an absolutely cookin’ tune that even Elvis was a fan of.
My instant reaction upon hearing Lloyd Nolen’s Fun Fun for the first time was, hey, that sounds like a garage rock song. I did a little search to see which group had covered it, but nothing turned up. Around a year passed and I eventually managed to track down my own vinyl copy. It arrived the other day, so I did a little more research. Sure enough, although it’s hardly common knowledge, there’s a good reason I thought Fun Fun sounded familiar; its crunchy guitar licks were borrowed by none other than The Sonics. In 1964, two years after Nolen’s recording was released on King Records, for their very first single, The Sonics unleashed The Witch, with the same cutting riff. Uncredited, but the similarities are undeniable. Still, it’s not just that arguably the most influential garage rock band got their start by lifting from Fun Fun that makes it sound like a garage record. There’s something intrinsically primitive and sparse about the whole thing; song structure, instrumentation and Nolen’s raw vocal delivery. I can hear why they chose it and I can’t get enough.
I bought this from a now defunct record shop several years ago and must admit that I didn’t like it too much at first. I think I was looking for Wanda Jackson’s original hit at the time and picked up this garage rock version on impulse and then found it a little too garagey. Anyway, my ears have now come around to The Rivieras take on the classic Let’s Have A Party. It was the flipside of the follow-up to their best known, biggest and only hit record, which was also a cover, California Sun.
I always thought that Shortnin’ Bread was a traditional song, but apparently not. According to my sources (Wikipedia) it was written by poet James Whitcomb Riley in 1900. Sixty years later, Paul Chaplain and his Emeralds released their version on Harper Records and almost 60 years after that I present it here for you today. It’s got a tough-as-nails garage-rockabilly sound, which creates quite the juxtaposition with the nursery rhyme alike lyrics about baking bread. Maybe that’s the whole idea; Shortnin’ Bread did make it into the national charts, peaking at #82. Nicotine, the title of the flipside, seems like a more appropriate subject matter for this rockin’ group from Webster, Massachusetts.
Here are a couple of tasty early-garage instrumentals. The Wailers aka The Fabulous Wailers don’t really require an introduction around these parts. Mau Mau was their second single. It came from the same recording session as their first and biggest hit, Tall Cool One. As the title suggests, Mau Mau is somewhat exotic sounding. Like many groups who made
instrumental rock’n’roll music at the time, The Wailers would have been well aware of the mega-success of The Champs’ Latin tinged Tequila. Although originally released in 1959, my pressing comes from 1964, when Mau Mau was released as the flipside to Beat Guitar. Unfortunately, the label on the Beat Guitar side, which included a picture of the band, is missing on my copy. According to fellow 45 fiend, Wailers fan and future Heavy Sugar guest DJ, Colonel Spencer Evoy, this is often the case with those labels.
The Rock-A-Teens were a rockabilly sextet from Virginia and Woo-Hoo was their only hit. Everything I’ve read says it came out in ’59, but 1958 is clearly
printed on the label of my Roulette release, but then again it also
states it’s an instrumental. Menacing guitars, heavy percussion, muted screams and a no-fuss pop attitude, sounds like a garage-rock classic to me. Woo-Hoo’s been covered a bunch of times, most notably by The 188.8.131.52’s, whose version was used in Tarantino’s Kill Bill. It’s also been used in adverts to help sell everything from cars and clothes to cars and beer.
The Sheep are three songwriter/producers who also recorded as The Strangeloves, a band with a fictional back-story which involved them being sheep farmers from Australia (of all places!). The Strangeloves had a real hit in 1965 with I Want Candy, but it’s their version of Johnny Otis’s Hand Jive that gets a spin from me from time to time. Hide & Seek is also a cover. It was released in ’62 as Hide & Go Seek by Bunker Hill, with backing from Link Wray And His Ray Men. Although nothing touches the raw power of the original, I do dig this garagey version from ’65. Twelve Months Later is also good value. It has a bit of the Louie Louie about it, which is just fine by me. I haven’t played either of these out yet. I hope to give at least one of them a go when I’m at The Haggerston with PJ from the Dirty Water Club just after Christmas.
Jack Eely – Louie, Louie ’66
Happy International Louie Louie Day! I’m celebrating by posting this cracking version of Louie Louie by the guy who’s vocals helped cement its place in musical history. In 1963 when The Kingsmen recorded the best known version of this party rocker, Jack Ely was the singer. At the time they had no idea it was going to take off the way it did, so Ely left the group to go to college. When their Louie Louie was all over the radio, he tried to rejoin The Kingsmen, but the other members weren’t having it. So he formed his own group and toured as Jack Ely and The Kingsmen until the inevitable lawyer’s letter arrived. His group then became Jack Ely and The Courtmen and produced this single. No prizes for guessing when it was released. I don’t know where the Eely spelling came from, but I’m going with it.
International Louie Louie Day is held on the birthday of Richard Berry, who wrote the song. If you’re in London, you can mark the occasion this year with some like-minded folk and top vinyl DJs at The Haggerston pub. It’s free to get in and sure to be a total blast. All the details are on the Facebook event page. See you there!
Mickey Hawks – Bip Bop Boom
Mickey Hawks – Rock And Roll Rhythm
From 1958, today’s two rockabilly offerings feature the piano and vocals of Mickey Hawks. Around a year earlier, Hawks had teamed up with High Point, North Carolina radio DJ and tenor saxman, Dallas ‘Moon’ Mullins, and his Night Raiders band. They recorded the Be-Bop-A-Lula inspired Bip Bop Boom in a Greensboro garage studio. It was originally released on the studio owner’s label, Robbins Red, and sold at gigs. Only 500 copies were pressed. I struggle to imagine how much an aficionado would bid for a clean copy of that record, were one to show up on eBay now. Thankfully, up in Chicago, Mike Oury decided to re-release it on his Profile label. It was a regional hit, selling 50,000. Rock And Roll Rhythm is also great fun and often gets a spin at my gigs. One of their high-octane follow-up releases, Cottonpickin’, credited to The Night Raiders, has been a fixture of my record box for a couple of years now. It’s also on my latest mix, Heavy Sugar.
The Raging Storms – Hound Dog
Today’s selection was released in 1962 on Morty Craft’s Trans-Atlas label, formerly Warwick Records. The Raging Storms were formed in Detroit by Fred Kelly, who previously sang in a Toledo, Ohio based vocal group, Freddie and The Parliaments. They moved in the same circles as Johnny and the Hurricanes, whose 1959 hit Crossfire helped establish Warwick records. Guitarist Louis Carr played with both groups. He also backed Dion and the Belmonts in Green Bay, Wisconsin when they were the opening act for Buddy Holly, Richie Valence and the Big Bopper’s penultimate show. Hound Dog is actually the b-side, The Dribble (Twist) on the other side seems to be a better known tune, but I prefer this quick, piano-led, sax-laden, rockin’ instrumental. You are encouraged to twist to it.
An Aquarium Drunkard
Be Bop Wino
The B Side
Carlos Rene's Scene64
Derek's Daily 45
The Devil's Music
Flea Market Funk
Frankie Bundle's Mazzetta78
Home Of The Groove
Jester Wild Show
Kogar's Jungle Juice
La Dimension De Trastos
Liam Large's Rekkids
Mean Mojo Mathias
Night Beat Records
So Many Records, So Little Time
You Got Good Taste