I have commented on another “Sam the Sham” album in a very early post on this blog, when this blog was just an email list actually.
Since then I’ve decided to flesh these things out a bit, well at least flesh them out when dealing with an act for the first time.
You can treat this entry as a first entry for Sam despite the other comment.
Sam the Sham holds a special place in the hearts of all 60s music lovers. Part garage rock, part frat rock, part dance music, part rock n roll, part genius, part showman, Sam was part of the movement of music that made no concessions to the British invasion of American music and ultimately was swept away because of his stubbornness.
Google garage and frat rock on this site for some specific historical detail on the movements but I will quote myself and say "Garage" … was an American response to the British invasion. It is fair to assume that many garage bands were inspired by the rockier side of the British invasion – The Stones, Kinks and the Who though the truth is also that many of these bands had been "frat rock" bands who incorporated elements of the new British R&B/rock to their sounds, and then – partly because of poor equipment but more so because they wanted to beat the British invasion bands at their own game – they developed a sound that was infinitely more raw and rockier”.
Perhaps this was commercial suicide but there is a grudging admiration for all those bands who refused to soften their sound to allow for post Beatle-esque pop.
1966, though, was pretty much the last roll of the dice for garage rock. People were doing “Pet Sounds” and “Freak Out’ while Sam was pretty much doing what he had been doing since the late 1950s.
This dedication to sound and energy takes the form of a rehearsed chaos. It is not music that you need to contemplate because it operates on a visceral level. Even as I sit here in front of my PC my foot is tapping and the typing on my keyboard has become more thump thump thump as I keep time to the beat and energy of the music.
Listening to this won’t have you sucking on Gitanes, straightening your beret as you look into your expresso, if you know what I mean.
Sure, we all like meaning in our music, but ultimately we like to be moved physically also and the rush you get from this music is palatable.
That’s not to say there isn’t meaning in the music.
The meaning is not in the words but in the whole package which assumes that you have to get down and dirty, sweaty and stinky and release some energy which in some ways is an affirmation of the joy of life.
And that is good enough, isn’t it?
Tracks (best in italics)
- Li'l Red Riding Hood – (Ronald Blackwell) – Magnificent! A great slab of rock n roll which is truly creepy because the narrator is a wolf about to sexually devour Li’l Red Riding Hood (well, the actual fable was creepy also) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li'l_Red_Riding_Hood
- Hanky Panky – (Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich) – a nice slab of honkin’ garage rock. This has been done by everyone (including many garage bands) and Tommy James and The Shondells had a #46 hit with it in 1966.
- Deputy Dog – (Grier)- a dance track for the deranged hipster
- Green'ich Grendel – (Paul White) – Initially the song sounds like filler but it turns out to be an enjoyable garage variation of The Kinks "Dedicated follower of Fashion" but with some undeniably hip mid 60s lyrics …..
- Mary Is My Little Lamb – (Ronald Blackwell)- this one is trading in on the title song and is, not surprisingly, written by the same writer. It, too, is a little creepy.
- Sweet Talk – (Ethan Daniel Davidson) – another garage thumper
- El Toro de Goro (The Peace Loving Bull)- (Addington-Kesler) – a novelty tune that is so humorously broad in its ethnicity it anticipates 70s Benny Hill skits in many ways.
- The Phantom – (M. Davis) – a hoot of a song with some spooky overtones. This would be a perfect tune for a retro drive-in.
- Little Miss Muffet – (Domingo "Sam" Samudio)- another song in the Li’l Red Riding Hood vain, this time written by Sam.
- Pharaoh-A-Go-Go – (Domingo "Sam" Samudio) – Some sporadic vocal chants and yelps stop this from being an instrumental but otherwise this is a great dance floor stomper.
- Ring Them Bells-(Ethan Daniel Davidson) – a “groovy” tune from Sam and undeniably enjoyable.
- Grasshopper – (D. Ward)- another novelty which throws bits of country, Tex Mex, and B Bumble B and the Stingers into a pot and creates some hard edged bubble-gum.
Great fun …. I'm keeping it.
1966 Lil' Red Riding Hood The Billboard Hot 100 #2
1966 Lil' Red Riding Hood #46
Li'l Red Riding Hood