The Shadows Of Knight were a genre-straddling garage punk band from mid 60s Chicago. Taking their cue from The Yardbirds, The Who, The Stones, The etcs etcs blah blah blah, they are as well known on the northern soul scene for ‘Shake‘ as they are on the garage circuit for their feedback soaked version of Them’s ‘Gloria‘. Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets album included this, their version of Bo Diddley’s ‘Oh Yeah’.
A garage stomper of a track, guitars drop in and out of the mix. The rhythm section takes it down. The singer whispers. The rhythm section section takes it up again. The singer screams. The guitars scream. The girls in the audience probably screamed as well. David Bowie was clealry taking notes. The similarity between Oh Yeah and Jean Genie is bordering on the criminal. But you knew that already.
“Has anybody seen Kosher Pickle Harry?” ask The Premiers at the start of Farmer John, their 1964 universally accepted garage classic. Welding the rhyhtms of Louie Louie and Wild Thing (of course) onto a standard 1950s croon-fest proved a success, given that this track reached the giddy heights of number 19 on the charts before the group disappeared from view forever.
Farmer John is seemingly recorded live at some Animal House type frat house party. Girls whoop and cheer, everyone sings the backing vocals and a rocking good time is seemingly had by all. In fact, the track was recorded to 3 tracks in the studio before the band invited their pals in to hear the record for the first time. The engineer at the desk used the 4th track to record the sounds of the studio party and mixed it across the top.
Neil Young liked this track so much he took to covering it live in concert at the start of the 90s. He turned it into a bucketful of grunge and sucked the life out of it, but, hey hey my my, if he hadn’t covered it, I’d never have gone out of my way to dig out the original. So a backhanded ‘thanks‘ to him for that. And remember folks, as the saying goes, “If you dug it, it’s a nugget!”