The Spats ABC LP (above),
Lead singer Dick Johnson on Shindig (below)
Note: I have some stuff going on this week, so enjoy this 2011 classic from the archives
Anybody in the mood for some fuzz?
It’s been a since I dropped some of the good old garage punk stuff on you, and I assure you that today’s selection will remedy that, and then some.
A while back I finally gave in and picked up the Rhino boxed set ‘Where the Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets 1965-1968’.
I had hesitated on picking it up only because I had taken a look at the song list and seen a whole lot of stuff I already had on vinyl.
I have gone into the subject countless times, but I will reiterate once again that I have a very special place in my heart for the mid-60s sound of the Sunset Strip. There’s something about the mix of jangle, fuzz, pop hooks and nascent psychedelia that hits the pleasure centers of my brain in just the right way so that I end up half-conscious with a big, dumb smile on my face.
Once again the folks at Rhino have done a superb job putting together a heaping helping of amazing music (much of it new to me) and presented it in a dynamite package with tons of info, and groovy pics.
I said that there was a lot of familiar stuff in the set, but the stuff that was unfamiliar was by and large absolutely amazing.
As is the case with any great compilation, I walked away from it with a pack of new records tacked onto my want list.
One such track was ‘She Done Moved’ by the Spats.
I’d never heard of the band before, but their record was a bit of pure garage brilliance.
If you could take the zeitgeist of early 1966 LA and put in in a meat grinder, the delicious sausage that would be extruded couldn’t possibly taste any better than ‘She Done Moved’.
The song itself is pretty simple (it is in fact an adaptation of Lonnie Johnson’s 1928 ‘Kansas City Blues’), but the arrangement is a crunchy, fuzzed out, attitude soaked piece of punky perfection.
I had never heard of the Spats before and was surprised to discover that for a brief time in the mid-60s they were all over the place.
Based in southern California, the Spats were formed around the core of the three Johnson brothers, Dick (the lead singer), Charles and Ronnie. They got their start as apack of teenage house rockers, recording loose and inspired, R&B based frat rock like ‘Gator Tails and Monkey Ribs’.
They appeared on American Bandstand (you have to see their performance of ‘Gator Tails…’ which includes some of the most spasmodic ‘choreography’ I’ve ever had the pleasure to witness), Shindig and the Jerry Van Dyke sitcom ‘My Mother the Car’ and apparently had a semi-regular gig at Disneyland.
If you take a look at the group performing on Bandstand, it’s hard to believe that they would ever be capable of a record like ‘She Done Moved’.
They were a tightly wound mass of Brylcreem and matching suits (wearing spats, natch) with some of them looking like they’d just escaped a junior high student council meeting.
By the time they recorded ‘She Done Moved’ in 1966, they had been joined by Doug Rhodes (later of the Music Machine and the Millennium). I found an interview on-line where Rhodes says that he was actually playing a Hammond organ on ‘She Done Moved’. He apparently wasn’t in the band very long before moving on to bigger and better things.
The flip side of ‘She Done Moved’ is a positively awful, good timey, tack piano tune called ‘Scoobee Doo’, which may provide one of the widest quality gaps between two sides of a 45 that I’ve ever encountered.
I hope you dig the tune ( I know you will) and I’ll see you next week.