Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Spotlight: The Swamp Rats - Louie, Louie/Hey Joe

Mid-Atlantic Battle of the Garage Bands takes us to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Here we find the first release by garage legends, The Swamp Rats. On this first 1966 release, on St. Clair Records, the band was a trio of Dick Newton, Dave Cannon, and Don Schriener. After this first single Bob Hocko would join the band as singer, but here Dick does the heavy lifting.

Obviously both songs are covers of standards of their day. But what covers they are! Louie, Louie is clearly picked up from the version recorded by The Sonics of Tacoma, Washington. It takes The Sonics already rocket-fueled approach and adds a little more kick. Dick Newton strains to keep his voice from cracking and gives us a first class teenage rock-n-roll scream going into the guitar solo.

The Flip-Side of Hey Joe is nearly as insane as the A-Side. Again, Dick Newtown and the band feel like a train that is about to come off the tracks on a curvy descent.
Until next time, we'll see you On The Flip-Side!


  1. I have to say that Hey Joe! is not a cover, it's an answer record. The lyrics are a monologue by the lover who is now gunning after Joe for killing the woman. Note that there is no author credit. This is my favorite Swamp Rats record, BBMF.

    1. Thanks for your insights - I hadn't considered the perspective of the questioner in the song in that light before. I'm not sure it really works though. Would Joe really respond "she's been seen with another man" if the questioner was the man in question? With respect to the cover issue, the song has a call and response structure as you point out, but since it is not an original composition it is only appropriate to call it a cover, no? Also, the term answer record applies to songs that answer or refer to a previously released song, and that's not going on here. Or am I missing something? Thanks for chiming in!