Standells bio-correction, charts, hits...and more

Letter from Gordan McLendon, warning the recording industry not to play records with raunchy lyrics. "Try It" was his target. Even though Gordo had a shady past (which I cannot go into detail on, but we can say he was an acquaintance of Jack Ruby's), he managed to destroy what was penned by Billboard magazine to be the Standells next hit record.

´ Bout the video. . .
"Big Boss Man" performed by the Standells on the TV show "Shivaree".

As you can tell, this is a hard driving rock song with the same chord structure and almost the exact harmonica solo as "Dirty Water". The 45 record was released by VJ Records in early 1965, months before the Standells met Ed Cobb and recorded "Dirty W ...ater". "Big Boss Man" provides further proof that, unlike what many falsely have claimed, Cobb did not seriously alter the direction of Standells music.

This misinformation can actually be traced to the liner notes of the early Rhino Records Standells re-releases such as "The Very Best of the Standells" (1981-1984). The Standells were not approached when these notes were created; only Ed Cobb's company AVI Records was contacted. As the story went, the Standells were a clean cut prep rock group before hooking up with Cobb, at which time he completely changed their image and sound. The story painted Cobb as more than just the Standells producer; it claimed he also booked the group and hardened their image - he was their 'Svengali'.

This was unadulterated bullshit.
`Bout history...

In truth, Cobb was only a producer; nothing more. As far as the assertion that Cobb hardened the group's clean cut image; this was fairytale, totally invented by AVI Records. This is evidenced by the early 1964 photo of the Standells with long hair (Photos, Standells 1963-1969). The photo was taken almost TWO Years before the Standells were introduced to Cobb. The fact is, the Standells were the first American rock group to grow long hair! They had done so after seeing photos of the Beatles in European magazines (before they became huge sensations in the U.S).

Unfortunately, in order to work at PJ's nightclub in 1965, the Standells were forced to trim their mop tops. At the time, PJ's would not tolorate long hair on groups. Their policy was also not to allow groups to play their own original songs - thus the criticism that the Standells were 'only a cover band' (So were the Beatles when they played clubs). In fact, after leaving PJ's in 1966, the Standells began to grow their hair back out (not at Ed Cobb's direction) and perform much of their original music on stage.

Most of the Standells bios on the internet today are derived not from the Standells, but from the dribble witten by Cobb's company. The Standells have repeatedly tried to correct the false information, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. So if you have the opportunity to read one of these faux bios (especially by Richie Unterberger), please feel free to voice your complaint!
(Larry T)

Again...big thanks to Gary Schneider-


Roadrunner said...

Si uno escucha detenidamente Help Yourself ya te das cuenta que rumbo estaba tomando la banda,tal vez inconcientemente,pero ya habia algo en los acordes y parte de el sonido de lo que terminaria en D.W.,si mal no recuerdo es un poco anterior inclusive a Big B. Man no?


rick said...

I really like classics a lot and you have a great site here. thanx


jaytingle said...

I have a lot of respect for Larry Tamblyn, and I was thrilled to see him perform with the Standells in 1999. That said, it is plain right off the bat that his recollection is not entirely reliable. "In truth, Cobb was only a producer; nothing more." Since Cobb got writing credits on most of the major songs on the"Dirty Water" LP, is Larry implying that Cobb imposed himself on those credits. Who really wrote "Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White" or "Rari" if Cobb was nothing more than a producer?
I am not too quickly going to dismiss Richie Unterberger's research, as he is fastidious in his attribution. If he had gotten his information from Rhino promotional material he would have said so. He has no reason to lie about it.
I can appreciate Larry's sensitivity on this subject. The Standell's did all the heavy lifting in their career and deserve tremendous accolades. And I can imagine it is very irritating to have Ed Cobb get so much credit for their success. Anyone who has watched the Standells on "The Munsters" recognizes that most bands had to temper their image to get get the opportunity to be in a major broadcast back in the day. And if if you do the math, it stands to reason that Ed Cobb would not register in our memory if it hadn't been for the Standells.
When The Fleshtones appeared on American Bandstand in 1980, their lead singer claimed the Standells as a main influence. Their drummer told me he was inspired by Dick Dodd. But we can't ignore "Zebra in the Kitchen." Ed Codd has a significant and rightful place in the story of the Standells. He was only a producer, perhaps, but what a producer!

Romuald said...

I agree with Jaytingle. This is what L. Tamblyn himself replied to me when I ousted that meeting Cobb was 'a good thing' :
Larry : Yes, Ed Cobb was a great producer at first. He collaborated with the Standells on all of their hits. "Dirty Water" was arranged by the Standells, who created the guitar riff and famous lead in "I'm gonn tell you a story..." As time went on..., Cobb was less of a collaborator and more of a dictator, thus songs like "Can't Help but love you" (R&B) were recorded. Other that the lead vocal, none of the other Standells participated in this song (at Cobb's insistence). Dave Aguillar of the Chocolate Watchband had a much worse experience with Ed Cobb. Dave's voice was completely removed from their new album, replaced with the voice of Ed's friend Ethan.
Me : Yeah, I read the story in interviews with L. Tamblyn, Dick Dodd and CW's Dave Aguilar. Still, I'm glad he came aboard. His production work turned the standells into a top notch garage band. He also seemed to get the best out of Dodd's voice.... And he wrote rari, my favourite Standells track.
Larry : Yes, Ed worked wonders with Dick's voice and brought out the best in his performances. That was one of his great strengths. Interestingly, Dick hated the sound of his voice back then and over the years changed it drastically. Ed was also a terrific songwriter, as proven by "Dirty Water", "Rari" and "Good Guys", all of which the Standells still do in concert today. Unfortunately, during his relationship with the Standells, Ed stopped writing songs for the group.
Me: Thanks for the information. I listened to Dodd's solo album a few weeks ago and there he already sang in a different way.
Larry : That's correct, and in that album Cobb went in an entirely different direction with Dick (This is probably why it wasn't very successful).

The Bomber said...

Jay & Romu: several good points to mark.

First, thanks both for your time and writing.

The post are the exactly words of Larry.

Also read that Ed was not an easy-guy-to work-with.
But certainly a great producer.

Perhaps the Standells members (others) were tired some years ago that Ed took a lot of credits of everything. (if you ask me)