The 10 best obscure songs of the '60s, by Rival Sons
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Rival Sons vocalist Jay Buchanan and guitarist Scott Holiday handpick the best 60s songs – a whirl of rock and spooky folk, murder ballads and psychedelic wig-outs...
ROBERT PETE WILLIAMS – Levee Camp Blues (1960)
Jay Buchanan: "This song was recorded by Robert Pete Williams when he was jailed in Louisiana in 1959 or 1960. It’s blues, for sure, but with a folk flavour. However you want to describe it, it’s just ‘got it’. It’s a protest song, about life in a levee camp. If you like storytelling songs, this is one of the best."
EARL HOOKER – Blues Guitar (1961)
Scott Holiday: "He was John Lee Hooker’s cousin. His main claim to fame was recording Blues Guitar. Willie Dixon wrote lyrics for it, and the song became You Shook Me. Willie Dixon also recorded it as You Need Love, which was covered by Led Zeppelin [as Whole Lotta Love]."
JUDY MAYHAN – Rockin' The Cradle (1962)
JB: ”Judy was part of the folk movement of the 60s; she was this just incredible soprano voice that at first reminded me of Joni Mitchell. Everything about Rockin’ The Cradle is terrifying. It’s so beautiful it’ll break your heart. I first heard it at the house of a record collecting friend right after our first show in London, at the Barfly."
DOUG WALLIN – Omie Wise **(1963)
**SH: "A classic example of what’s known as a murder ballad. The story of Omie Wise is about a girl that gets pregnant. The father promises to marry her, but when she agrees to meet him by the creek, he ends up drowning her instead of running away with her. At the song’s end the guy turns himself in. Very doom and gloom, but a wonderful song."
THE COUNT FIVE – Psychotic Reaction (1965)
SH: "I don’t have a whole lot of information on the background of these guys. All I know is that they were a bunch of garage rockers from the late 60s. This track – their only hit – really nails it. It’s from their one and only album of the same name. If you like The Yardbirds, I’m sure you’ll dig this song. If you’re a fan of the Rival Sons or any of the new blues-based rock’n’roll acts, you’ll relate to all of these acts we’re naming."
THE CHOCOLATE WATCH BAND – Let's Talk About Girls (1967)
SH: "Another American garage rock band that I cannot get enough of. Let’s Talk About Girls is a super-super good song with great lyrics and fantastic guitar playing. I love everything about it. I even like their cover versions... they did a really good job of the Bob Dylan songs they recorded."
FAMOUS L. RENFROE (AS THE FLYING SWEET ANGEL OF JOY) – Children (1968)
JB: "Famous L. Renfroe played all of the instruments except for the drums on Children. The song itself is remarkable. It’s really lo-fi. Maybe you’d call it soul. The writing and the vocals are just okay, but it has an energy and vibe that makes it fascinating."
THE CREATION – How Does It Feel To Feel (1968)
SH: "The Creation’s biggest-selling single, Painter Man, was a hit for Boney M, but don’t hold that against them. They were an influence on Pete Townshend and The Who. Ronnie Wood also played with them for a while. They did a lot of great work and really should be better known."
THE STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK – They Saw The Fat One Coming (1968)
**SH: **"Strawberry Alarm Clock were a really great American psychedelic rock band. Incense And Peppermints topped the US chart [in 1967]. But if anyone wants to find what they were really about, then They Saw The Fat One Coming is way more representative."
SPOOKY TOOTH – Evil Woman (1969)
SH: "Spooky Tooth were one of the great unsung rock bands of the last millennium. Their second album, Spooky Two, doesn’t have a bad song on it. It became an all-time favourite. It has all the muscle of a band like Free, but also the soul of Joe Cocker."
Rival Sons will release a two-disc tour edition of Great Western Valkyrie on October 16 via Earache. The band tour Europe from November 8. For more information, see their official website.