Monday, January 16, 2006

The Shaggs: Mean Woman Blues/She Makes Me Happy (Capitol)

No, this is not the Shaggs of "Philosophy of the World" infamy. This is a 1969 one-shot single by a group of guys who apparently had the same name. (I know that sounds lame, but finding info can sometimes be difficult. That, and the fact that Capitol also had a group called simply The Shag, who recorded a one-shot, the superb punker "Stop and Listen," the year before). Anyhow, here again as with the Smokestack Lightning 45 reviewed earlier, we have two distinctively different tunes. Two flavors for one price. Can't beat that.

According to Florida garage rock historian Jeff Lemlich,These Shaggs are from Michigan. There was a Miami group called The Shaggs (see how these names get around) that played with Hideout-type bands around They cut a single for Palmer, then decided to return to Miami. However, their manager, Ray Skop, stayed in Detroit. As the Miami Shaggs were wrapping up business (recording a final single for Power in the process), Skop assembled a new group, called them the Shaggs, and made the deal for theCapitol single you are now reading about.

"Mean Woman Blues" is, of course, the Roy Orbison favorite and wouldn't you know it, the lead singer does a pretty solid impersonation of Mr. Orbison. But you don't get the girly vocals of Orbison's version for back-up here. Instead, you get a pumped-up garage band that plays like they could hold their own in a good barfight and probably have. If you ever wanted to hear Roy Orbison fronting a garage band, here's a good idea of what it might sound like.

"She Makes Me Happy," on the other hand, takes a detour into garage pop territory. What you have here is an upbeat folkish-garage number with loud, jangly guitars and pleasant enough harmonies. I think of The Byrds when I hear this thing, but for some reason I also think of The Outsiders' "Was It Really Real." At any rate, if you dig the jangly guitar sound, you'll probably want to check this one out, too.

Told you you were getting two flavors, didn't I? Now, eat up!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind write up. I can assure you, the man singing "Mean Woman Blues" had all the life experience you mentioned and more.

Bob Burwell, Author of "She Makes Me Happy", and bass player on the recording session ofr both tunes.

ray skop said...

Hi, all of you music lovers. Its me Ray Skop.Jeff, you failed to mention that I was also the Amboy Dukes first managers and helped to write Journey to the Center of the Mind. I am still producing rock bands.