October 09, 2012

The High Numbers - Zoot Suit (1964)

With roots as far back as 1961, this band was originally known as The Detours. In February 1964, when another group of the same name was discovered on television, they changed their name to “something simpler.” The group failed an audition with Fontana Records in April of the same year and consequently fired their drummer, Doug Sandom. The band soon replaced Doug with a talented drummer found in another local band known as The Beachcombers.

In the summer of 1964, after developing a reputation for being loud and destructive with their instruments, their manager, Helmut Gorden, hired an adviser, Pete Meaden, hoping to create a new image for the band. A few haircuts later and Pete recreated the group’s image to being the quintessential mod band, “mod” being a counter-culture group in the UK that appeared alongside the rockers in the ‘60s.

Also credited to Meaden was the band’s first opportunity to record a single at Fontana Records. In July 1964, the band released a single which featured lyrics written by Meaden and melodies “borrowed” from other songs. It didn’t sell well. Wanting to undo everything Meaden had done, the band fired both Gorden and Meaden and went back to their original R&B roots. They also changed their band’s name back to what it was between The Detours and Meaden’s High Numbers. From then on, the group would only be known as The Who.

Coming from the only single released by The Who while using The High Numbers name, this song was featured on the B-Side. As mentioned above, both this side and the A-Side, “I’m the Face,” had lyrics written by Pete Meaden. While “I’m the Face” featured a melody strongly inspired by Slim Harpo’s “Got Love If You Want It,” this song’s melody was almost an exact recreation of melody from The Dynamics’ “Misery.”

[Note: Also, if you haven't heard, Pete Townshend just released an autobiography titled 'Who I Am', which you can pick up at Amazon. (I'm not an affiliate to Amazon, but I did just buy a copy!) You can also see an interview Townshend did on the TODAY show over on their website.]

album art

The High Numbers - Zoot Suit (1964)

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I'm the hippiest number in town and I'll tell you why
(I’ll tell you why)
I'm the snappiest dresser right down to my inch-wide tie
(To my inch-wide tie)
And to get you wise, I'll explain it to you
You are the things that a face is supposed to do

I wear zoot suit jacket with side vents five inches long
(Five inches long)
I have two-tone brogues, all a rest, yeah, you know this is wrong
(Know this is wrong)
But the main thing is, unless you're a fool
Ah, you know, you gotta know, yeah, you know, yeah, you gotta be cool

So all you tickets, I just want you to dig me
(You to dig me)
With my striped zoot jacket that the salts can plainly see
(Plainly see)
So the action lies with all of you guys
Is how you look in the other- the other, yeah, the other cat's eye

Well don't you see? (Oh, yeah)
Well don't you see? (Oh, yeah)
Well don't you see now? (Oh, yeah)
Well don't you see now? (Oh, yeah)
Come on, baby (Oh, yeah)
'cause don't you see now?
Oh yeah, babe
Well don't you see now?
You drive me wild
You're crazy looking now

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