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Thursday, February 26, 2015

(the) Buggs - The Beetle Beat

Name: The Buggs
Album: The Beetle Beat
Year: 1964
Style: Beatles Rip-Off, Vocal Pop Group
Similar Bands: Beatles, Kingston Trio, Liverpool Beats,
"One-Word" Review: An American's British  Bandwagon Ride
Based Out Of: Bergen County, NY
Label: Coronet
 The Beetle Beat - Cover & Record
The Beetle Beat - Back & Record
The Beetle Beat (1964)

  1. I Want to Hold Your Hand 2:11
  2. Mersey Mercy (You've Got Me Bugged) 2:47
  3. Soho Man (Just One Look) 2:06
  4. East End (Since You Broke My Heart) 2:27
  5. London Town Swing (Why Can't You Love the Boy Who Loves You) 2:04 /
  6. She Loves You 2:23
  7. Liverpool Drag (Why Won't You Leave That Man?) 2:13
  8. Swingin' Thames (That's For Sure) 2:09
  9. Big Ben Hop (Sassy Sue) 2:20
  10. Teddy Boy Stomp (I'll Never Leave You) 2:37
Album Rating (1-10): 8.5

Members & Other Bands:
Goldie Goldman - Producer
Bill Omolski - Bass
Gary Wright - Organ, Vox
Frank Zillitto - Guitar
Steve Bogue - Drums
Eddie Brick - Vox
Jimmy Carol - Vox
Trade Martin - various instruments

Unknown-ness: I've never heard this Beatles rip-off band, but I can only assume it is a poor man's version of the Beatles, created to trying to coax unsuspecting mothers out to buy their snotty, complaining kid a Beatles album. There is not much room to dispute that his will be a shameless parody of the Beatles. 

Album Review: So there is a big, shady side to the 60’s music industry represented here with this album, which makes for a more exciting story than the album (which is a surprisingly solid set of songs). Apparently, this band was called the Coachmen 5, and after recording these songs with a hired hand songwriter, the NJ group (definitely not recorded in England) was under the impression that it would be their album. They had no idea the label would rename the group, rename the songs to sound more British, and use British looking models for the cover. The real band saw no royalties and the Coachmen 5 suffered from the travesty. Many mothers bought this album for their kids, not knowing it wasn’t a Beatles album. Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo was one such disappointed owner of the album, which helped him pen the song “U Got Me Bugged” in tribute. 


But the whole thing gets weirder. In 1966, when the music scene shifted ever so slightly, and Go-Go music began to take off, the record label repackaged the unsold records in their inventory with a new cover and title: “Boots a Go-Go.” They left off all the track listings to make people think it was a new Buggs album. At least Gary Wright escaped the whole ordeal mentally intact, since he was able to have a secondary career as a solo artist, having written “Dream Weaver.” Perhaps all of these experienced learned him as to what NOT to go in the music industry.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” is a cover of the Beatles song. You know the song. They can’t hit all the notes, but musically it is a solid cover. Well, the guitar might not sound as punchy, but they do a good enough job, without sounding as silly as the Liverpool Beats rip off.
“Mersey Mercy (You've Got Me Bugged)” follows with a similar sounding guitar, and is definitely a Beatles inspired song. It has a little more of an island sound to it, like the Beatles mid-tempo Hard Days Night songs and the harmonies are layered well.
“Soho Man (Just One Look)” is a cover of the Doris Troy 1963 hit song, which the Hollies covered and also helped make famous. His version drops off the romantic longing, and goes for a punchy rushed pop tempo. So they make it their own rather than doing a soulful version. It is done well, like how the Beatles might have interpreted the song.
“East End (Since You Broke My Heart)” is a slow dance song, more in line with the male harmonic vocal groups of the time, and less like the Beatles. There are sweeping harmonies over the chorus, but this trys to hang on to the style of music like the Bachelors, with a crooning at the school dance vibe. Like a less catchy Earth Angel.
“London Town Swing (Why Can't You Love the Boy Who Loves You)” starts out with a big, heavy guitar sound, and a snare drum waltz tempo. At its base, it has a “Little Drummer Boy” feel all the way through.

“She Loves You” is a cover of the Beatles song. It is a pretty faithful cover, utilizing the backing harmonic vocals, and powerful punches when the title is sung, along with whooooo’s and hand clap percussion.
“Liverpool Drag (Why Won't You Leave That Man?)” continues the spirit of many of the songs of the era…questioning and/or embracing love on a high school level. This song twists the I Want to Hold Your Hand melody around a little to create this variation.
“Swingin' Thames (That's For Sure)” has a side to side, slightly proto-psychedelic bass line that is prevalent to the song. Even the organ comes in bring a psych element. It feels like it was meant to be a country-ish song. It fades out once the tempo and melody changes to something repetitive.
“Big Ben Hop (Sassy Sue)” begins very delicate for 10 seconds, but then it transitions into a  Buddy Holly style song played by the Beatles. It features “Yeah yeah Yeah” flourishes as well. Sure, the vocals don’t always have a commanding grasp on the extended and raised notes that make take the tooo-OOO or meee-EEEE up an octave. But the pace and tone of the song is fun and dance-y.
“Teddy Boy Stomp (I'll Never Leave You)” has a jittery guitar at the beginning with Dat-a-dums sung overtop and a “whoop” used to end a few lyric lines. The lyrics mention floating on clouds above, and the song feels like it is rolling along a rollercoaster up in the clouds. 


Stand Out Track: Big Ben Hop (Sassy Sue) 

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