Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tommy James and the Shondells-Crimson and Clover

Let me take you guys back a couple years. November 1968, you're chilling at home, listening to the radio, when all of a sudden the dj says that the next song he's playing is "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and the Shondells. Life for you at that moment is about as groovy as it gets.

Tommy James and the Shondells (helluva name) had a wild ride. In 1960, when Tommy James was 13 years old they recorded a song, "Hanky Panky," that would become a number one hit, in 1966! After breaking up in '61, the song was unearthed five years later and soon became #1 nationwide. Tommy pulled together a band, toured the nation, and began a whirlwind 4 year career which saw them release 10 albums. The band ended in 1970 after Tommy was pronounced dead after overdosing on stage. BUT, in a miraculous event in rock n roll history he was REVIVED by the rock gods to keep making jamandahalfs, although he ended up betraying them, deciding that he didn't like the recording process. The band also turned down playing at Woodstock! An unreal career,* which, most importantly to us, resulted in this jamandahalf.

I honestly have no idea how this song made it into my library. Not a clue. Music has a way of doing that. But I do know that Crimson and Clover is one of the wildest songs I have ever heard. A mean guitar riff, strange lyrics (with a million different interpretations), the wahwah effect on the guitar. Tommy and the Shondells take you on a 5 minute musical journey to outer space, chasing Mars with a kaleidescope. And when you think the guitar solo can't build anymore, it drops, and at 4:25 the 1960's autotune kicks in, solidifying "Crimson and Clover" as one of the funkiest creations of man.

*In a bizarre side note, The Shondells accompanied Hubert Humphrey doing his Presedential campaign. To show his thanks, Hubert wrote the linear notes to the album featuring this song.

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