Monday, December 29, 2008

Song of the Week: "Your Body, Not Your Soul", Cuby + the Blizzards

On this final Monday of 2008, our Song of the Week journey takes us on our first trip outside of America and Britain. And what a trip it is. Our flight takes us to a lowland paradise known as the Netherlands.

The year is 1966 and the Dutch have been subjected to a healthy dose of British invasion for two years. Screw the silly soft stuff like Herman's Hermits. Maybe it's living below a flood plain, maybe they are tired of jokes about little Dutch boy's sticking their fingers into dykes, maybe they are just excited that the Dutch haircut was finally en vogue, but the Dutch take to the grittier bands such as the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, The Who,  the Pretty Things and the Creation more than any other mainland Europe country. But more than just appreciating the Mod and R&B based Brit bands, the Dutch answer back with their own take on American soul and blues, adding a very unique accent to their interpretations. It becomes known as Nederbiet and, truth be told, it makes not a single ripple in the UK or the US. Outside of Holland the music explosion would rest in obscurity until a modest interest is rekindled by a handful of music enthusiasts in the 80's.

A huge treasure of music was left behind. But forty-two years of historical perspective reveals three Dutch bands as standing above the multitude of very good music to come out of Holland: Q65, The Outsiders led by Wally Tax, and our heroes of the day, Cuby + the BlizzardsCuby + the Blizzards, named after a neighbor's dog and a word chosen at random from an English dictionary, were led by singer Harry Muskee and guitarist Eelco Gelling who took to the American blues better than any of their contemporaries (with apologies to Rob Hoeke). C+B released a handful of stylized singles between '65 and '67 that would only hint at what would become their blues dominant sound that would carry them through today. Those first singles were a stunningly original collection of songs that showcased the power of Muskee's brooding voice and Gelling's truly stellar guitar work. Following regional success of their first contribution of wax, Stumble and Fall, The band's second single was a cover of Manfred Mann's excellent song, L.S.D. (ostensibly standing for Pound, Schilling, Dollar). It was a great cover, but the real gem was the Flip-Side of the single (and our Song of the Week), the self-penned Your Body, Not Your Soul.

Opening with a distinguishing floor-tom to snare intro , C+B's Your Body, Not Your Soul quickly falls into a beautifully syncopated rhythm that showcases the masterful guitar work by Gelling who surely would have been a guitar hero of epic proportions if he had been British or American. His lead at the :46 mark has all the ingredients of a great lead, but it's the distinctive solos that close out each verse/chorus (as well as the lead) that are his high point in the song. Just linger on the riff at 1:30 for a moment to really appreciate his phrasing, tone and attack. But vocalist, Muskee is never outdone. Writing in a non-native language, he shows an acerbic wit with his quixotic lyrics which, truth be told, don't always make sense but somehow translate to a youthful universality. Sung in a broken accent, the young Muskee growls out: "I tell everybody that you gave me a kick. I felt so tired I gave myself a tick, 'cause I love your body, but not your soul." The lyrics are definitely not Gloria Steinem approved but I think most people have been there at one point or another in their life.

C+B caught the attention of the British musicians who toured Europe and noted the stellar musicianship of the band. When Van Morrison broke from Them late in '66, he toured Europe with C+B as his backing band. John Mayall, too, approached Gelling about joining the Bluesbreakers. And it is rumored (probably falsely) that Jimmy Page approached members of C+B to fill the gap between his stint in the Yardbirds and  Led Zeppelin.

So, enjoy your trip to Holland this week. And please, please, please play this song loud enough to annoy someone you love. After all, isn't that the original intent of the song? Last, maybe Gelling would be kind enough to let us know what equipment he was using.


  1. That is an outstanding song and some blistering guitar work! Damn, now I REALLY regret my ignorance of the Dutch garage scene, I'm obviously missing out on some great stuff.

  2. There is a ton of great dutch stuff out there. And a couple of real greats from Sweden (the Tages) and Germany (The Lords and the Scorpions - a different Scorpions). It is still hard to find, even on CD. I think you may appreciate another C+B song called Back Home. It's a slow, dark song with very beautiful guitar work. Lots of subtle sustain work. I have it on a compilation somewhere but can't find it as I don't remember the name of the comp. Damn me and my too many records!

  3. This is just one of those songs that just leaves me speechless. Sorry.
    (yes I had to post this comment months late!) And I assume the de-speechifying effect of this song is why so many flip-siders have remained silent about this track.