Nat Stuckey – In the Saddle
Listen/Download – Nat Stuckey – Listen to the Band
I have something both very cool and unusual for you this week and it’s stone solid proof of the value of the interwebs as a tool for restoring life to otherwise forgotten gold.
Last year, not long before Christmas my man Whiteray over at the fine Echoes In the Wind blog posted an article about a cover version of Zager and Evans’ ‘In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)’ by a cat that I’d never heard of named Nat Stuckey.
As it turns out, very cool cover version (of what may have seemed an ultimately uncoverable song) hailed from an even more interesting album called ‘New Country Roads’.
Nat Stuckey was a country singer who’s heyday was contained in a roughly ten year chart run from 1966 to 1976.
‘New Country Roads’ was recorded in 1969 and was a concept album of sorts, with Mr Stuckey laying into a wide variety of contemporary pop and rock tunes by the likes of the Guess Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Box Tops, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran and the Monkees.
Despite the fact that Stuckey’s vocal attack leans in the direction of conventional/Countrypolitan, the selection of tunes was smartly curated, matching up rock material that would lend itself readily to a country interpretation.
Now, I have to admit that when I heard Stuckey’s version of ‘Listen To the Band’ I had no idea whatsoever that it was a Monkees tune.
You all know I’m a big fan of Messrs Nesmith, Jones, Dolenz and Tork, but for some reason ‘Listen To the Band’ escaped my ears.
The thing that grabbed me when I fist heard this version was the drum break in the middle of the song.
Then I took a look at the label, saw that it had been written by Mike Nesmith and then tracked down the OG on Youtube.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Nat Stuckey hadn’t really gone that far afield with his interpretation of the song (up to and including the drum break).
The arrangement is pretty faithful to the Monkees’ version and despite a few tracks that shoot right up the middle (‘Bad Moon Rising’) or shock with novelty value (In the Year 2525) ‘Listen To the Band’ is by far the finest track on the album.
That it worked so well also manages to be a great illustration of the quality of Nesmith’s country experiments with the Monkees.
Though it surely seemed somewhat radical in 1969, today it seems positively conventional.Interestingly enough, the charts seem to reveal that the country audience had little use for Stuckey’s somewhat brave experiment. Though the album made it to number 27 on the country charts (it did fall right in the middle of Stuckey’s chart run) the only track from the ‘New Country Roads’ to chart was his cover of Eddie Cochran’s ‘Cut Across Shorty’ (later covered by the Rod Stewart) which made it to number 15.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll see you all next week.