Monday, June 20, 2011

The Standells in Person at P. J.s/"Live" and Out of Sight - The Standells

The Standells in Person at P. J.s
The Standells
Liberty  LRP-3384

"Live" and Out of Sight
The Standells
Sunset  SUM-1136

Many years ago I bought "'Live' and Out of Sight" not realizing it was a reissue of the 1964 Liberty album "The Standells In Person at P.J.s."  I was miffed when I found out but not so much that I made a big effort to get the original.  It kept bugging me though because I'm a silly collector so when I finally found a nice copy at a bargain price, I bought it.  The records are not identical.  The original has better cover art and superior liner notes.  The reissue drops two tracks from side one of the original album, "You Can't Do That" and "What Have I Got Of My Own," and substitutes the early Standells singles "Peppermint Beatle" and "Shake."  It also radically alters the running order of the songs which I don't approve of at all.  However I like having the singles so I keep both versions.  The Standells were arguably the greatest of all 1960s garage bands although I'm not really sure the term is accurately applied to them.  Sure they sound like a garage band, but they were hardly a bunch of teenage punks making a ruckus on stage at the school dance.  These guys were professional musicians with considerable ability and talent, they were no more a garage band than the Byrds were.  I'm referring primarily to their classic recordings on the Tower Records label.  On this record, they sound pretty much like an ordinary garage band.  The live tracks consist entirely of covers, all competently performed with lots of energy.  If I was watching them at P.J.'s I'd be completely satisfied, they have a good beat and you can dance to them.  It sounds like a really fun concert.  On a record though, I expect something more original than this.  If nothing else they do have excellent taste in covers.  My favorite cut is the high energy cover of Ray Sharpe's "Linda Lu" which shreds the original.  Not far behind is their speeded up version of Jimmy Reed's "Help Yourself" which really cooks.  I particularly dig the ferocious electric organ playing that drives this cut.  I also like their versions of Jessie Hill's "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," the Fiestas' "So Fine," Larry Williams' "Bony Maronie" and James Brown's "I'll Go Crazy."  Their versions aren't particularly distinctive but they are propulsive and fun.  "Louie Louie" and "Money" exist in so many other better versions that they are essentially useless.  I enjoy their covers of the Beatles' "You Can't Do That" and Trini Lopez's "What Have I Got Of My Own" but they don't really add anything to the original versions.  Dropping them for the two singles makes the reissue a slightly better record than the original.  Both singles are credited to Larry Tamblyn.  "Stand" features original drummer Gary Leeds who would later join the Walker Brothers and change his name to Gary Walker.  The song is simple and somewhat derivative of the Isley Brothers' "Shout" but it is fast paced and very enjoyable.  "Peppermint Beatle" is a little more sophisticated musically but features equally silly lyrics.  In case you were wondering the Peppermint Beatle is a dance, not a food.  I don't play either version of this album very much but when I do, it does make me hop and wiggle around.  If you plan on throwing a toga party any time soon, this might make a nice soundtrack for it.  Recommended for fans of the Kingsmen.   

1 comment:

  1. good review. Yeah, I just picked up a copy of the one you have - the Sunset re-release. They look and sound 1964 on the record, which considering "Dirty Water" was recorded late in the following year, says a lot about how drastically and fast paced were the changes in music and presentation from one year to the next.

    One of the best examples of that is the music that was on the Top 40 in 1966 while Jimi Hendrix was in England recording tracks from the "Are You Experienced" LP. Really a mind blower.

    But back to the Standells here - I agree with you - it's a fun diversion and that's about it. I knew from the song titles and the suits and ties and short hair that this was the tail end of the "teen dance" era of rock. It's a great snapshot in time and most surely dovetails with what the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders were doing.