I Ain’t No Miracle Worker – The Brogues
The Brogues were in existence for a mere year, between 1964 and 1965 and recorded only six tracks, of which ‘I Aint No Miracle Worker’ is probably their best known, thanks to its appearance on the Nuggets compilation. This cut kicks us off with slinky bass and shuffling drums, all fuzzing guitars and Rick Campbell’s dirty organ, it is built round the crescendo of its somewhat brief chorus. As with all garage tracks it is preoccupied with a problematic woman, “oh lord I aint no miracle man!!!!!!!” wails the singer (possibly Gary Duncan). Two of the band, including Duncan, would later form the better known prog effort Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Slow Down – Larry Williams
Infamously covered by the Beatles (the track kicked-off side B of their Long Tall Sally EP), this is the original cut by Larry Williams. Full of fat brass and rollicking pianos it can’t fail to get your fat-ass jiggling. Originally released in 1958, this song was extremely popular and influential on the burgeoning rock ‘n’ roll idiom and has subsequently been covered by The Jam (on their debut LP) and Led Zeppelin.
Those DJ Shows – Patrice Holloway
Younger sister to the more noted Brenda Holloway, Patrice also had a brief contract with Motown, though they failed to release any of her recordings. Holloway went on to record for Capitol and in the seventies became a minor hit on the Northern Soul scene. This track was released in 2002 on the Richard Searling compiled A Cellarfull of Motown album and possibly bears a passing resemblance to another Motown hit, ‘Shop Around’ (well, a bit). Holloway is perhaps more memorable for her role as the singing voice for Valerie in the 1970 TV series Josie and The Pussycats (and spin-off LP). She also sang backing vocals with her sister on Joe Cocker’s cumbersome rockist cover of ‘With A little Help From My Friends’.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – Johnny Guitar Watson
Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson was a seriously hip cat who not only worked with many talented musicians, but had many high quality LPs of his own. His best work, however, was when he paired up with Larry Williams (also featured above). The subsequent album, Two For The Price of One, is packed full of rockin’ soul gems including this reworking of a 1966 jazz tune. Originally written by Joe Zawinul for Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley it was a surprise hit and the instrumental was covered by many groups, with added lyrics, including this effort by Williams & Watson the year after its initial release.
May I Baby – Sam & Dave
Sam Moore and Dave Prater performed together for twenty years, managing to make two fairly boring christian names synonymous with stomping Stax soul. The B-side to ‘Soul Man’, ‘May I Baby’ also followed their most famous hit single immediately as track two on their 1967 LP Soul Men. Though more mellow than the former song, it was also a firm live favourite and was co-penned by Prater and soul legend-cum-former South Parker, Issac Hayes.
You Told Me – The Monkees
With a guitar intro reminiscent of The Who’s ‘Pinball Wizard’, though two years it’s senior, this track begins The Monkees’ third album, Headquarters. Produced by Chip Douglas (of the Modern Folk Quartet and The Turtles) the album was the first to feature material largely written and performed by the group themselves. This number was one of three penned by Michael Nesmith and it he who takes the lead vocal. The spoken word, counting introduction supposedly parodies the Beatles ‘Taxman from the previous year, though it could just be a coincidence. The Monkees have gained more recognition in recent years for their work, but by way of perspective, Headquarters was released in May 1967, hitting the number 1 spot instantly… but was displaced a week later by Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Tomorrow’s Gonna Be Another Day – The Shadows of Knight
Following on from a Monkees original comes this cover of a track from the same group’s debut LP. Written by Tommy Boyce (who was responsible for over half the tracks on that eponymous album) and Steve Venet, the song was originally fairly typical boy-band beat fare of the sort that dominated the Monkees early output. Here we find it raucous and dirty as it is thrashed out by The Shadows of Knight at a gig. Overlooked by the mainstream, this garage group were local heroes in Chicago, eventually bagging a record deal after a support slot with The Byrds in 1965. Though featured on the band’s second LP, Back Door Men, this version is taken from their legendary Raw and Alive At The Cellar ’66 (posthumously released in ’92). The Shadows… regularly packed in 500 hepped-up teens into The Cellar every Saturday and Sunday for over six months, securing their status a garage leg-ends for yonks to come. Incidentally, the Monkees LP that housed the original version of this track has a rather ugly cover, featuring an unflattering snap of the lads gurning away. Raw and Alive At The Cellar ’66 by contrast has a fuckin’ ace cover, a moody black and white portrait in a grimey alleyway.
It’s Cold Outside – The Choir
Formerly known as Mods, The Choir hailed from Cleveland, Ohio. This 1966 cut is probably their most famous track, having featured on Pebbles 2 (back in 1979) and also the Nuggets box set. They released five singles in total between ’66 and 1970, including a re-release of this song with its original B-side ‘I’m Going Home’. The band had a penchant for swapping instruments during live shows and felt the need to document who played what instrument on a series of index cards. Old Rope does not know if these index cards still exist, but surely the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame should seek to find and purchase them for something in the region of $6billion dollars if they do.
Aint No Friend of Mine – The Sparkles
Another typical garage track found on releases in the Pebbles and Nuggets series. ‘Aint No Friend of Mine’ was recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, Nashville, in January 1967 and appears to be one of a small handful the group committed to tape.
I Can’t Explain – Oscar & The Majestics
This Indianna group were put together by the eponymous Oscar and two of his brothers. As is common with garage groups of the time, they appear to have made a few recordings, including this cover of the Who’s ‘I Can’t Explain’, bashed out a few singles then faded to obscurity. As with many such bands, the group’s output is currently being hawked by the excellent Sundaze records.
I Fought The Law – Bobby Fuller
Originally recorded by Sonny Curtis & The Crickets, The Bobby Fuller Four recorded this much more famous version of ‘I Fought The Law’. Shortly after it graced the US top ten in December 1965, Fuller was found dead in his car with multiple wounds and covered in gasoline. bizarrely the police concluded that his death was suicide, or an accident, though everyone who knew Bobby believed it to be murder. The so-called police investigation sounds farcical, but the song became legendary, with notable cover versions by the Clash, The Dead Kennedys, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash.
A Little Bit of Something (Sure Beats A Whole Lot of Nothing) – Little Richard
Lil Richie offers us a slice of little-known northern soul. The man has had too many albums to even think about and Old Rope cannot recall the origins of this track and, without a CD to hand to check I cannae tell you more. You will just have to groove on its driving riddim.
A Quitter Never Wins – Larry Williams
Another cut from Larry Williams, this time a popular northern soul number. The man’s career was long and prolific before his untimely death (see previous Old Rope playlists and posts for more), though as mentioned before, in Old Rope‘s humble his better work was when he teamed up with………………
Space Guitar – Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson
Freaky space guitars baby! Johnny Watson knocked this one out a bit before he palled up with yer man Williams (see above).
Free Satpal Ram (Primal Scream Brendan Lynch remix) – Asian Dub Foundation
One of the most powerful songs ever committed to tape, Free Satpal Ram is here remixed by Primal Scream (goodness knows which members) and popular 90s producer Brendan Lynch. Gerron those thundering drums mate.