Glad Every Night That You Treated Her Right (Roy Head)

Your eyes belong in a tiger’s face, your nose straight from a forgotten race. Your hair is straight, it won’t curl, you ain’t never gonna be my girl…

 

 

Just Wow!…Always. If “Your (Almost) Tuff” had been recorded by the Seeds or the Standells it would be track 1, side 1 on the “Now That’s What I Call Garage Rock” collection. Perhaps the Cramps could have covered it on “A Date With Elvis” (1986) & made a great album greater. On its release in 1966 Roy Head was hardly an obscure artist, he had enjoyed a very successful 1965, A hit big enough (4 million sales worldwide) for him to now be considered a one-hit wonder, even though two following singles both made the US Top 40, had put his name in the frame. With diminishing returns this sensational psychobilly surge failed to trouble the Top 100. One that got away & not appearing on an album, almost 30 years passed before the track was included on a “Best of…” compilation.

 

Related imageRoy Head’s high school band, the Traits, were quite a deal in Central Texas. Formed in 1957 the singer was still only 18 when, two years later, they had their first regional hits. Roy & the Traits played straight ahead energetic rockabilly, just the sort of music a group of Texan teenagers should be playing in the late 1950’s. Check out “One More Time”, credited to all 6 Traits, two & a half minutes¬† that you immediately want to hear again. The addition of two saxophones added extra punch & a bigger sound for tracks such as “Linda Lou”. They were attracting attention from bigger players, in 1965 they signed with producer Huey Meaux whose operation was based at Gold Star Studios in Houston. It was there that the super smash hit was made.

 

 

Image result for roy head treat her right“Treat Her Right” is an impressive blast, distinctive & exciting enough to make #2 on the US charts at the height of Beatlemania (“Yesterday” was the toppermost) in a Top 10 which included the Lovin’ Spoonfull, The McCoys & the Ramsey Lewis Trio. The existing TV clips of Roy, without the Traits, lip-synching to the song, are of low definition & he is giving it plenty, rubber legs & all.I can’t imagine how wild he could be with a full band, in a packed sweaty Texas club but sometimes I do just that. I have never been too comfortable with the tag “Blue-Eyed Soul” but I do know that “Treat Her Right” was pretty fly for a white guy.

 

The later records were released under just Roy’s name or by the Roy Head Trio which included bass player Gene Kurtz, co-writer of the hit & composer of “You’re (Almost) Tuff”. The only LP that appeared was a collection of earlier recordings but single releases made in Memphis at Chips Moman’s American Sound Studios & back in Texas with Sir Douglas Quintet’s Doug Sahm, continued to be interesting. I don’t usually put so many links into these things but these tracks deserve a wider hearing, “Just A Little Bit” is less than 2 minutes long, give it a try.

 

 

In 1970 there was finally the time & money to make a proper Roy Head LP. Produced by Huey Meaux, “Same People (That You Meet Going Up, You Meet Coming Down)” is a fine example of Texas Rock & Soul, arrangements packed with blaring horns, spiky guitar, Gospel-tinged backing vocals & a solid rhythm section to support Roy’s strong vocals. In the next decade Roy turned to Country, enjoying 3 Top 20 hits on that chart.He continued to perform &, if the music was more restrained, I’m sure he always put on quite a show.

 

Image result for roy head“Treat Her Right” became an enduring & much covered song. Bruce Springsteen, young enough to be impressed by what Roy had going on in 1966, turns it into a show-stopper. When the almost forgotten catalogues of the original Rock & Rollers were resurrected & re-released the Traits’ brand of R&B influenced dynamism proved to be a very worthwhile listen. The band celebrated their golden anniversary with a reunion & election to the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. There was more interest when his son, Sundance, won the US TV show “The Voice” (whatever that is!). They performed together at the Grand Ole Opry, the song “Treat Her Right”. He’s a bit of a legend Roy Head & you can’t keep a good man down.

Texas radio (and the big beat)

It took American pop music a while to regroup after the British Invasion. Through 1964 only the Beach Boys, exporting their “fun, fun,fun” surf and hot rod Californian paradise to teenagers who had never seen the ocean and the 4 Seasons, the only group with a #1 hit before,during and after The Beatles, were able to enjoy continued success. By the summer of 65 the Byrds and the Lovin Spoonful were at the head of a generation of young musicians who had seen the world change and hoped there was a place for them between Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders and Chad and Jeremy on next week’s edition of “Shindig !”.

Here are three American hits from 1965 all from Texas and all worthy of a look all these years later.

Sir Douglas Quintet had spent 1964 growing their hair so that they could pull a stroke which a few US bands tried, pretending they were from Britain. Check the Knickerbockers “Lies” which is more Beatley than the Beatles. Here Trini Lopez, two years away from his finest hour in “The Dirty Dozen” (re-made as “Inglorious Basterds” by Quentin T), blows their cover after a great performance of their hit in the strangest of settings. I only heard “She’s About A Mover” on the radio and heard a fine slab of Texan R & B. The Vox Continental of Augie Mayers underpins a driving song. I suppose that wearing odd clothes , performing lame dance moves in a cardboard castle, surrounded by medieval go-go girls was a way of getting on TV. No matter, everybody knows “She’s About A Mover” because it’s a great single.

Doug Sahm and Augie Mayers were around the music scene for a long time. They were champions of Texan music and always got a fair hearing over in the UK because of the quality of their work which started with the Quintet.

As some other Texans sang, “every girl’s crazy bout a sharp-dressed man”. The dapper & ¬†dynamic double joints of Roy Head and his worldwide hit “Treat Her Right”…what the…? Recorded, like the Sir Douglas Quintet, in San Antonio the 45 was kept away from the #1 spot by “Yesterday”. Roy’s edge was that he did some white bread imitation of James Brown while singing. I think he got caught by this a little and there are clips when the rolling around on the floor gets in the way of the music. The song, written by Roy and his fellow member of the Traits, Gene Kurtz, is a great sparky soul thrash. It is truly blue eyed soul, not a pale cover version like more than a few hits of the day. If you like this then Head’s work is worth further investigation. He was always wild and when he added a garage rock touch to the brass stabs he sounded pretty good.

The only other thing I know about Roy Head is that when he was introduced to Elvis Presley he knelt at the King’s feet and bit him on the leg ! Elvis got ready to karate the Texan’s ass but Roy explained that he wanted Presley to remember the meeting. Crazy story, crazy guy.

OK…I will have to turn myself down a notch or two for “Never To Be Forgotten” by the Bobby Fuller Four because I really do think that it is one of the great ¬†American pop 45s of the 1960s. Here is the link between Buddy Holly (old rock n roll), the Turtles & the Box Tops (the new) , the Association and the Left Banke (the future). The three elements merge to produce a sound which makes me happy whenever I hear it. It’s not “Like A Rolling Stone”. It was maybe a happy accident. No problem…the simplicity, the drive, the harmonies, the optimism…perfect pop. There is a “Shindig !” clip of the boys performing this but the clarity of the recording is what we need.

Fuller grew up in El Paso and idolised his fellow West Texan Buddy Holly. The band moved to L.A. to record. “Never…” was not a hit but started a run of noteworthy singles. “Let Her Dance” is now off of Wes Anderson’s “Fantastic Mr Fox”. “I Fought The Law” is a stone dead rock classic and “Love’s Made A Fool Of You” a re-make of “…Law”. Then in 1966, aged 23, Bobby was found dead in his car. The cause of death was never satisfactorily established.

Bobby was not a folk musician turned pop star. The band were a bit show bizzy, played some surf music, made an awful beach party movie. They were rockers and as the music changed in the mid-60s some of that Texas rock and roll would have been welcome. He may have paved the way for Credence. Hey, he may have become one of those creepy Bobbys like Vinton and Sherman. We will never know.