Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Band Musical History- Part V

By 1965 Levon and The Hawks were becoming disillusioned with the same old grind of one nighters, from the clubs on Yonge Street to the beer joints in the deep south, the band felt that they were merely playing by   numbers. In early 1965 the band re-established their connection with legendary R&B producer Henry Glover, who had produced most the Ronnie Hawkins records to come out on the Roulette label. Glover impressed upon them the need to come with some material that would be radio friendly and begin to raise them above their status as a largely unknown R&B group. So prior to their recording session in New York Robbie Robertson penned two songs the raucous Uh Uh Uh and the more bluesy Leave Me Alone.

Uh Uh Uh was probably intended as more of a dance song, with a strong emphasis on the backbeat. Levon's drums take center stage as usual with that crisp sound that he had perfected, Robbie provides the harmonica work that permeates throughout the record, the guitar and bass are not prominent with Richard once again timing in with those nice little piano fills and keeping the rhythm tight. It's evident Robbie was trying to write a commercial song, with all the vocal hooks, name checking places across the U.S but he adds the interesting line "out in L.A you know they have everything, moved out there became the new southern king", Robbie was already demonstrating his affection for the American south. Levon provides a typically raw rock and roll vocal, it's a precursor to the laconic characters he would sing about on several albums.

The B side Leave Me Alone is a blues almost garage rock styled number that kicks off with Levon pounding away on the tom tom, an aggressive autobiographical take on the rigours of being on the road and their continuing quest for independence. Levon's coarse vocals are matched nicely in each verse with Richard providing a soulful foil. Even though Leave Me Alone comes across as a garage rocker it's certainly not loose in delivery, the hawks were at the top of their game. The rhythm section provide a tight framework, Robbie in the spaces between each verse provides a nice guitar lick and steps out into his more customary raucous solos in the break. When released as a single in the middle of 1965 it gained scant airplay, it was released on the small Ware record label under the name The Canadian Squires! It was once again another step towards logging more studio time, and furthering themselves as musicians, more to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment