Pshaw, and to think I thought I knew everything! One of the occasional joys of this nonsense is the need to research learned tomes for the accuracy of assumptions I hold with my steely gravitas. (Wikipedia generally fits the bill for me.) My song has been a staple favourite since I bought the 45 on a record stall in Soho, London, along with other post review "not for sale" knock-offs being sold. Something about it seemed just a little more varied and energetic than the standard 2 bar chug of most other shorthairs clamouring for chart attention. That and the o so witty puntastic name of the band, the Banned, adding, or not, a taste of seedy subculture to the sufficiently young and stupid to be that impressionable. Hell, did they know their demographic! It even got into the hit parade and got them on to the telly, albeit after the "brains" of the operation had left and moved on, probably why I neither twigged nor recognised them from that Top of the Pops moment.
Dare you buy it?
For, in common with not a few others, the Banned were an undercover manoevre from the old guard to sneak some long lost cred and kudos from the changed musical world. Gryphon were about as far from punk and guitars as could ever be conceived possible, being steeped in a mediaeval prog-folk fusion; think Yes with crumhorns. They had carved, or dented slightly, a route through seriously long and lengthily serious and largely instrumental suites, often the entire side of an LP, garnering praise from serious critics, who would die of shame if ever made to think of rock and roll. But their time had passed and I dare say bills still had to paid. So Richard Harvey, recorder player, and Jonathan Davie, bass player, teamed up with a couple of reprobates and bashed out the above. No recorders were harmed, I think it fair to say, in the making of this record..... As I said, they left before success beckoned, returning to worlds of, respectively, film soundtracks and folk music. The remainder couped a couple of new members, before fading away after the wonder of that one hit.
So what did I learn? Only that the song is not an original. Syndicate of Sound, a garage rock band from San Jose had a relatively huge hit with it, in the US, in 1966, reaching number 8 on the billboard chart. And I dare so most of you knew that, questioning my musing on my brit has-been heroes. Here's their version. and you know what? I think it's better, certainly snottier of vocal and, hindsight or not, a whole lot less contrived. And it put paid to my earlier enhanced admiration for Dwight Yoakam, who also covered it more recently, leaving me thinking him a closet punker, before realising he was just recycling a hit from his youth. Damn and drat. Sadly not available on Youtube, but look it out, as it's a corker of a version.
Buy the Syndicate of Sound version
Take me at my word for Dwight
Because I can, let me leave you with a taste of the contrast offered by Gryphon. (Note: it isn't under 3 minutes.)