Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Lemon Pipers: No Help From Me (Buddah BDA 23)

I'm sure all of you know The Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine" whether you want to or not. Well, according to the Billboard Book of One Hit Wonders, the story is that the band didn't want to record it, but were threatened with being dropped from the label if they didn't. So, they did. It became a chart-topping smash and they were never able to escape it. The follow-ups were tepid at best ("Jelly Jungle (of Orange Marmalade)" is almost a "Green Tambourine" carbon copy) and pitiful at worst ("Rice Is Nice" is just abysmal). And, of course, they didn't chart as high.

But hold on! Flip your copy of "Green Tambourine" over to the B-side and you'll discover a little buried treasure. It's a little fuzz-soaked ditty called "No Help From Me" that, while it may not be a "Back From The Grave"-type of killer, is still more than good enough to hold its own in the teen angst department. There's more than enough of a fuzz soaking here to satisfy your craving.

We open with a thumping bass line, followed by organ and fuzz guitar (with a suave drumbeat, of course). This will be the prominent backing throughout the song. I would probably describe this song as "garage-psych" since there's definitely elements of both here. Check out these lyrics for example:

Why should I run when I can walk?
Why should I listen when I can talk?
Why should I buy when I can steal?
Why should I look when I can feel?

Followed by the chorus:

If that's the way it's gonna be,
If that's the way it's gonna be,
You don't need no help from me.

Toward the end, the fuzz guitar goes a bit crazy and we get some out of control guitar noise before one more round with the chorus and the end of the song. This ends up being a great one to turn up loud and rock to. And if you're one of those who's ever hated "Green Tambourine" (I'm not, for the record, but it does get a bit tiring hearing it over and over on oldies radio), you might find this a nice surprise.

What this indicates to me is that perhaps The Pipers, like The Royal Guardsmen, were a bit more than what their bubblegum reputation stigmatized them as. Further evidence is on the Carol single "Quiet, Please," also worth checking out. As Bo Diddley said so eloquently, "You can't judge a book by looking at the cover."

1 comment:

Gregory Orme said...

This is a great song that I enjoy as much today as when I first flipped that "Green Tambourine" 45 over all those years ago. I still don't know what the first verse is about--sounds anti-war, but I can't quite make it out after hearing it only a thousand times.