Thursday, December 29, 2005

Garage Rock Classics: Farmer John

Continuing our foray into garage standards, here are four great versions of Farmer John. The origins of the song are somewhat confused, but most accounts credit Don "Sugarcane" Harris, of the R&B duo Don & Dewey as the author. It's been recorded by the likes of Neil Young and the Searchers. The best known version comes from The Premiers. It's supposed to be live, but it's actually a studio recording with screams and applause added in post-production (much like the Stones' Got Live If You Want It). The other selections are by The Tidal Waves (out of the Moter City), The Hep Stars (Sweden), and a wild version by The Neatbeats (Japan). The Hep Stars are notable because their keyboard player, Benny Andersson, went on to some acclaim as one of the members of a little-known group called Abba.

The Premiers - Farmer John

The Tidal Waves - Farmer John

The Hep Stars - Farmer John

The Neatbeats - Farmer John


Yes, I have to come down on the side of the Premiers incredible version. I don't know what got in to those fellows, but I remember hearing this slice of noise rock on my transistor radio when it came out ('66?) and picking it up the next time I was in a store-selling-records (probably EJ Korvette's in Elmshurst, Ill).

This record was a long time in my "go to sleep stack" on my record player. I would stack a bunch of 45s on the spindle, which would then play them and shut itself off. Oh yes, perfect. I played this in conjunction with gems like "Shapes of Things" and "Eight Miles High".

This song has that crazy sound. A young lady I know recently discovered this song on the Nuggets compilation and quickly dubbed it "The best song ever." Not far off, I think.

It's so sleazy and woozy and crazy sounding. It's brilliant.

I was severely disappointed in Neil Young and Crazy Horse's version. It sucked, to put it plainly.

By Blogger Jinbon H Wrong aka Sloop John B, at 12:18 PM  

I pretty much agree with your assessment, but I like the Neil Young version.

I guess I wasn't the only one who listened to records (or the radio) while going to sleep. Now it's the iPod. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

By Blogger MadCatJoey, at 12:27 PM  

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