What a nice little gem we have for you today. Even if you are a big-time music collector, I bet most of you are not familiar with this song. But, it might, just might, sound familiar. That's because this song, Misery, was the subject of some pretty blatant plagiarism by Pete Meadon. He being the one-time manager of The Who.
Back in 1964, Pete Meadon briefly changed the name of The Who to the High Numbers in an effort to get them bigger with the mod movement in London (being a High Number meant that you were of some importance in the gang). In June, Meadon and Chris Parmeinter took the band into the studio to cut some self-funded tracks that would have a very limited 1000-run pressing on Fontana Records. The lads recorded 4 tracks that day: Eddie Holland's Leavin' Here, Bo Diddley's Here 'Tis, and Zoot Suit and I'm The Face. The latter two songs were credited to Meadon who, in another effort to get in with the mod movement, wrote lyrics which spoke to the mod experience. I'm the Face is a not so subtle rip-off of the oft-covered Slim Harpo number, Got Love If You Want It. Zoot Suit, a not so subtle rip-off of today's song of the week. It is unlikely that Pete Townshend even plays on Zoot Suit, but rather that a studio musician brought in by Meadon and/or Fontana plays the jazzy guitar riffs. To be blunt, the sound, style and quality of performance are not Townshend at all. In Dave Marsh's book, Before I Get Old: The Story of The Who, Marsh refers to Townshend's style and makes no mention of a studio musician. However, on the liner notes of Odds and Sods, Townshend says of the studio musicians on these High Numbers tracks: "Superb jazz guitar solo from somebody I don't recognize, fast piano from some pilled-up lunatic who probably made more in session fees that day than we did from the ensuing year's work." In Pete's new auto biography, he says he played on the session but that the work shows his style was not fully formed yet. You decide.
But that is not our SoTW, Misery is. In 1963 a Detroit band called The Dynamics sauntered into the studio to record this nice cross-genre song. This is just one of those great songs that surprises me. The catchy guitar riff never seems to fit the rest of the song -- in a VERY good way. The singer's temporary falsetto always catches me off guard and the sax solo is a surprise considering how dominant the guitar is in the rest of the song. And then there's the exit vocals. "No-no!" How frickin' cool.
Enjoy your misery.