Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ox-Bow Incident - "Harmonica Man" (Smash)

Listen to
This was one of two 45s this New York band made for the Smash label in 1968-69. (They also recorded one for Avco Embassy during this period.) Rather than go into the whole history, let me point you in two directions: Chas Kit's "Garage Hangover" website (http://www.garagehangover.com/ and the band's own MySpace blog at www.myspace.com/theoxbowincident . Both these can give you the lowdown and even include interviews with band members to boot.

What I want to focus on now is "Harmonica Man," a hipshaker of a song if ever there was one. Not to single out the A-side in which the band gives Vanilla Fudge-style treatment to the Four Tops' "Reach Out," but for me, "Harmonica Man" is where the real action is.

It begins with a spoken word intro while the band begins to kick into gear. It goes something like this:

There's a cat named Eddie
Man, he's no square
When it comes to playin' the blues
He's right there
And everybody calls him

Then, the band starts a-shufflin' as the man starts wailing away on the harp, stopped only by a chorus of "Harmonica man, harmonica man, harmonica man, harmonica man" at various points. He keeps blowin' all the way through the end of the song (pausing only for a couple of breaks), while the guitar twangs away, the piano and organ pump along, the drummer keeps a beatin' and whistles and screams blurt out all over the place.

Get the picture? The song's an instant party starter, one that wouldn't be out of place at your next big beer bash. And that's real high praise around these parts!

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