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Louie Louie - Live & Unreleased

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Album Review

After the two (at least) fake live albums credited to the Kingsmen during the 1960s, this CD is a welcome relief — the group's original label, Jerden Records, finally dropped the other shoe in 1992 by dipping into its archives for this 46-minute live release, assembled from two nights in November 1964. Live & Unreleased is a surprisingly decent release — it's not a monumental document, just parts of two nights' playing by a group that had played hundreds of gigs at that point and, in decades to come, would do thousands more, with lots of rough moments but a lot of spirit as well. At least, they're not lip-syncing to "Louie Louie," and the crowd ambience and stage ambience are the real article. What's more, the sound isn't as low-fi as one might expect from a rock & roll concert recording of this vintage — the volume is a tiny bit low, and there are the usual minor leakages, but the guitar, sax, organ, and drums are all audible along with the vocals, though the latter lack some presence. The lineup on this performance consists, at least in part, of Lynn Easton (drums), Mike Mitchell (guitar), Bob Nordby (bass), and Don Galuchi (keyboards) — original "Louie Louie" singer Jack Ely wasn't there; it's not clear who's playing the second guitar, though Easton and Mitchell are doing the singing. The band is nothing great — Paul Revere & the Raiders and any number of other groups from the region were just as good, if not better, but these guys do some entertaining and rewarding jams built on songs like "Do You Love Me" and "Ooh Poo Pah Doo," and it's easy to see why they've endured across 40 years, maintaining the same style in front of audiences. The overall quality makes this CD roughly a match for Sundazed's Paul Revere & the Raiders' live album Mojo Workout from the same period.


Formed: 1957 in Portland, OR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It's unfair to call the Kingsmen "one-hit wonders," as they did have hits besides "Louie, Louie" (even if they're not well remembered today), but very few bands in the history of rock & roll managed to get as much mileage from a single song as they did. Overlapping the rowdy beer-bust bellow of frat rock with the anyone-can-do-it sneer of garage rock, the Kingsmen were unapologetically a party band, and decades after the band was largely a memory, their version of "Louie, Louie" stubbornly refused...
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