John Sieger
Sieger on Songs

The Strangeloves Out-Stoned the Stones

Songs like “Night Time” had a beat Keith Richards would have killed for.

By - Jul 25th, 2016 03:12 pm
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The Strangeloves

The Strangeloves

Reality of late has been brutal. Nobody needs a recap, but last Thursday the Grand Old Party expired in an orgy of fear, loathing and blather. My job is hard. I’m trying to rise above the muck of 21st century America and pluck something beautiful and inspiring from that astral plane where music is the highest possible language. I want to live there, but I’ll settle for Canada if things go wrong.

In these leaden times, when spirits failed to soar, I had mine lifted by an unlikely hero, George Thorogood and his rompin’, stompin’ band, The Destroyers. The R&B Cadets, reunited and strong, opened for them last week in Oshkosh, so I was backstage when they went on. I was never rabidly in love with their music, but on the other hand, I never thought of them as the problem. Their roots were planted in the same soil ZZ Top has mined so successfully for ages. Basically John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and all other gut-bucket, boogie blues bands.

Thorogood’s approach is dazzlingly simple. We were actually listening through a curtain of steel — for some reason they lowered large industrial garage doors and we couldn’t view them from the wings. But the message was all in the drums and bass anyway, and they were playing at a healthy volume that showed absolutely no respect for that flimsy barrier. You couldn’t help but notice how disciplined they were. They absolutely refused to overplay, clearing a path to a wonderful place where stupid equals good.

Then they played a song by one of the more interesting footnote bands of the 60’s, The Strangeloves, and I knew I would be writing about “Night Time.” The Strangeloves included future mega producer Richard Gotterher, a man obsessed with drums and bass, the bones of the groove. They first hit with “I Want Candy,” featuring the insinuating “Bo Diddley” beat. That’s the one that goes, “Shave-and-a-haircut… two-bits.” Mr. Diddley rightly complained in later years how that trademark rhythm was stolen from him by more than one hit maker.

The Strangeloves were promoted using a brilliantly twisted sleight of hand. They invented an origin story that cast these New Yorkers as three brothers, Giles, Miles and Niles, fresh off of their Australian sheep farm. I’m not sure how long that ruse held up, but it was certainly an inspired white lie, and it brought attention to them.

Our featured song is a textbook study in how to drive a point home in a musical sense. It is relentless, after starting with a throbbing bass part on the piano, the drums barge in and take over in the most monomaniacal way. This is not a song to sit still to. The lyrics succeed by not stopping the flow, they’re a moderately funny saga of young gents trying to get through the workday with enough gas in their tanks to go out and rave.

I get up in the mornin’
Kick the covers from my bed
The sunlight in my eyes
Playin’ tricks with my head
I work like a dog
On a job every day
Tryin to make some money
So you can go and play

In the night time
It’s the right time
I said the night time
That’s the right time
I want to be with you
In the night time

I come home from work
You know I’m tired and I’m beat
I try to make some supper
But I can’t even eat
I jump in the shower
Wash the world off my back
I’m gonna get you baby
That’s a natural fact

In the night time
That’s the right time
I said the night time
That’s the right time
I wanna be with you
In the night time

Come here baby
just a little bit closer
turn your radio up so you can hear what I’m sayin
awww now ya got me turned on baby
ha ha ha ha ha ha…

A hundred million people
With nothin to say
Runnin round in circles
They just livin the day
But stick with me baby
I’ll show ya how to fly
Well make such pretty music
Watch the world go by

In the night time
That’s the right time
I said the night time
night time…
night time… night time… night time
night time… night time… night time…

© Feldman, Goldstein and Gottehrer

This song is 51 years old but still sounds vital. At the time, they sort of out-stoned the Rolling Stones. The singer has better chops than Jagger and the production is better than the tinny, tiny sound Andrew Loog Oldham, a PR guy turned producer, managed to get for the Stones in their early years. There was no arguing with The Strangeloves production skills and that’s because that was their real job. “My Boyfriend’s Back,” an absolutely slammin’ track by The Angels, was their handiwork. But they had read the writing on the wall: British bands like The Stones were bringing the curtain down on girls groups. They couldn’t fake British accents, thus the myth of the Aussie sheep farm. Don’t you love it?

So we started this discussion with The Donald’s coronation and are ending with “My Boyfriend’s Back.” Not sure where that leaves us. America the big non-sequitar, I guess. So say a prayer for our country — it can’t hurt — and let’s hope we still get to make a joyful noise after November.

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