Whilst strolling aimlessly through the back alleys of the windows of my hard drive, it occurred to me that I had never posted the record you see before you today (except for an appearance in a mix).
The Rugbys were a Kentucky band that specialized in a certain brand of what might be called “early American heavy”.
Though they got their start during a more genteel, psychedelic era, they laid down ‘You, I’ right on the cusp of flower power getting obscured by acres and acres of mud and amplifiers.
I think it would be fair to trace most of this back to the Cream (a band who’s sticky, hash-oil fingerprints are all over this record), with the volume, and the wah-wah and the heavy drums and of course the Jack Bruce-ian vocals.
The Rugbys had already had some local success with their cover of Doug Sahm’s ‘Walking the Streets Tonight’, but when they unleashed ‘You, I’ on the world they had a monster on their hands.
The record was an instant smash in Louisville, and was soon Top 40 (often Top 20) in much of the rest of the country.
This is where I have to take a detour to question why- if this song was so successful – had I never heard it until a few years ago?
Sure, the Rugbys were heavy, even treading delicately over the border into Stooges territory for a few moments, but then so was Blue Cheer, who had a similarly sized hit with ‘Sumertime Blues’ the year before, which never seems to go away.
There’s an argument to be made that Blue Cheer, though they might have been a tad, how do you say, dumber, were in the long run a far more consistent band than the Rugbys, laying down a blueprint that legions of filthy hippies (said with nothing but love, of course) would follow decades hence, whereas the Rugbys didn’t seem to have their eyes planted quite as securely on the prize, having a tendency to get a little more in the words of the great Chico Marx – tootsie frootsie.
People have always assumed that the end of the 60s was some kind of hippie paradise, but I’d argue that a listen to the first Stooges album is a much clearer snapshot of the era. There is no arguing with the potency of ‘You, I’, especially the last 30 seconds which paint a very vivid picture of the way the worm was turning that year.
It’s a groovy 45, and one you ought to be able to pick up for a couple of bucks.
So dig it, and I’ll see you next week.