Friday, April 13, 2012

Song of the Week: The Swamp Rats - Louie Louie

Moving from The Sonics' last single, released in '65, we'll conclude our Louie Louie love fest with the first single by The Swamp Rats, out of Pittsburgh, PA, doing Louie Louie. It's this '66 release on the St. Clair label that reveals some of the most distinctly 'punk' inclinations yet set to wax. Instruments played and recorded at extreme volumes, a dissonant lead, cavalier vocals, a palpable indifference to product and, above all, aggression.  So, a lesser known tune, with its trademark melody and rhythm lifted directly from a cuban song, gets introduced to a Pacific Northwest audience and interpreted with a fresh rock-and-roll sensibility then turned into a massive popular hit, and yet again into an anti-pop monster, ultimately finds its way to a loose-knit changeable group of kids in Pennsylvania ready to take it a step further.  It's the core trajectory of State-side rock-n-roll in a nutshell.  

One can guess whether The Swamp Rats heard the Richard Berry or The Wailers version, but its certain they heard The Kingsmen's and The Sonics' Louie Louie. By 1966 The Kingsmen's Louie Louie had entered the national popular consciousness, and rightly so.  And we know The Swamp Rats were listening to The Sonics by the fact that they soon thereafter covered, in blistering fashion, the Sonics' rocker Psycho, and that they chose to cover the Sonics' version of Louie Louie with its unusual major key structure, this time in the key of B.

Sit back and enjoy!  And be sure to listen as the song trails out.

1 comment:

  1. seriously amazing! I've always loved that trail out. It's a nice little double time to a song already in double time. Quite frankly, the end sounds like California Hardcore from the early 80s.