Listen – Superman – MP3
I hope all is well on your end.
I just finished reading Paul Drummond’s outstanding biography of the 13th Floor Elevators (highly recommended). I’ll be posting some more Elevators vinyl – with a longer essay – in the coming weeks, but first a detour to one of their fellow Texas groups, that just happened to have recorded probably the earliest cover version of a 13th Floor Elevators tune (Splash1), the Clique.
To most people, the Clique are best known as the band that recorded the original version of today’s selection ‘Superman’, which R.E.M. resurrected and made a hit in 1986.
The Clique – who played under a few different names before settling on the Clique in 1967 – played all over East Texas, including many of the same beach resorts as the groups whose members would form the Elevators, the Spades and the Lingsmen. They recorded their cover of ‘Splash 1’ at the Andrus Studio (where the Elevators also recorded) in 1967. The record was first released on the local Cinema label, and after charting all over Texas it was picked up for national distribution by Scepter.
The Clique signed to White Whale records in 1968 and recorded their eponymous LP that year. They had a Top 40 hit in the summer of 1969 with a cover of Tommy James & the Shondells ‘Sugar on Sunday’ and hit the upper reaches of the Top 100 a few times, including with that song’s B-side ‘Superman’.
The band stayed together until 1972, and would likely be remembered only by record collector types, had not one particularly well connected collector – one Peter Buck – brought the tune to his band R.E.M.
The Clique’s version of the song is – aside from their cover of ‘Splash 1’ – the finest thing they ever did, especially compared to the more lightweight pop offerings on their LP. Reportedly, only the Clique’s lead singer Randy Shaw appears on the album, backed mainly by LA studio pros. The Clique LP has been reissued, but sadly the ‘Splash 1’ 45 was not included.
I hope you dig it.
PS if anyone out there has a line on a copy of the ‘Splash 1’ 45, please drop me a line…