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The Searchers: Two Great Covers

How could a song with these lyrics not be on the list of the best ever? Perhaps some of the younger visitors to the site aren’t familiar with them, so here they are:

I took my troubles down to Madame Rue
You know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth
She’s got a pad down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
Sellin’ little bottles of Love Potion Number Nine

I told her that I was a flop with chicks
I’ve been this way since 1956
She looked at my palm and she made a magic sign
She said “What you need is Love Potion Number Nine”

She bent down and turned around and gave me a wink
She said “I’m gonna make it up right here in the sink”
It smelled like turpentine, it looked like Indian ink
I held my nose, I closed my eyes, I took a drink

I didn’t know if it was day or night
I started kissin’ everything in sight
But when I kissed a cop down on Thirty-Fourth and Vine
He broke my little bottle of Love Potion Number Nine

Love Potion No. 9 was written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally performed by The Clovers. That version was done in a more doo-wop style and shows how music was changing. It also shows how a good song can cross boundaries.

Wikipedia lists 25 covers of note of the song, by everyone from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass to Robert Plant. I know of one other: Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs — famous for Wooly Bully — also sang Love Potion No. 9. One of my earliest memories is my parents buying the album for my brother in Stamford, CT. I am younger and I believe got a baseball bat.

Here is the beginning of Wikipedia’s entry on The Searchers:

The Searchers is an English beat group, which emerged as part of the 1960s Merseybeat scene along with the Beatles, the Hollies, the Fourmost, the Merseybeats, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

The band’s hits include a remake of the Drifters’ 1961 hit, “Sweets for My Sweet”; remakes of Jackie DeShannon’s “Needles and Pins” and “When You Walk In The Room”; an original song written for them, “Sugar and Spice”; the Orlons’ “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”; and a cover of the Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9”. They were the second group from Liverpool, after the Beatles, to have a hit in the United States when “Needles and Pins” charted during the first week of March 1964. (Continue Reading…)

Needles and Pins (below) was written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzche. It originally was a hit for Jackie DeShannon.

AllMusic has a very interesting profile. Here is a tribute site for the band.

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--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

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Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

🎼🎺🎻🎹🎷🎶🎵


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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