Thursday, January 31, 2008
No, not those Wailers, but the Washingtonian Wailers of the mid 1960s. Although they never gained much national attention, The Wailers were at the forefront of garage in the Northwest (in fact, Allmusic.com suggests they may have been the 'first,' although such distinctions are often dubious).
My first exposure to them was "Out of Our Tree," included on the expanded Nuggets compilation released by Rhino. Sometime in 2004, I'd heard the "Louie Louie" episode of Little Steven's Underground Garage. It was there that I first heard the Wailers' version of one of the greatest rock songs of all time.
The Wailers' version is the second to see release, the original having been recorded by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs in 1956. A few years later, the Wailers gave it their own spin, making it a bit less r & b, a bit more rock n' roll, and adding that oh-so memorable preface to the middle 8, "Ok, let's give it to 'em right now!" Shortly after the Wailers' release, two other area bands, The Raiders and the Kingsmen recorded the song, both riding the song to national chart success.
Curiously, the Wailers' recording is a little hard to come by. To my knowledge, it only exists on this import which combines the great live album At the Castle and the studio album Wailers & Co. This release also comes with 6 bonus tracks. 32 tracks overall, which is a lot of music on a single disc, which makes the $22.98 tag a little easier to manage.
Here for your enjoyment is Wailers & Co., including the group's great take on "Louie Louie."
Side note: I highly recommend Dave Marsh's book Louie Louie, a fascinating examination of the song's history and cultural impact. A must for rock/garage/pop culture types.