February 21, 2014

The Standells - Try It (1967)

Formed in 1962, The Standells are often cold-heartedly labeled as a one-hit wonder. Although it’s true that their only majorly successful song was 1966’s “Dirty Water,” the band and its members still had quite an impact on the pop culture of the 1960s.

Band member Larry Tamblyn was and is the brother of Hollywood actor Russ Tamblyn (and thus the uncle of actress Amber Tamblyn). He was also a classmate and acquaintance of Ritchie Valens. The band's drummer Dick Dodd was an ex-Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club. He was also an ex-member of the surf bands The Bel-Airs (previously featured) and Eddie & The Showmen.

At one point, the band featured backing vocals by Cher while being produced by Sonny Bono. They also appeared in the movie Get Yourself a College Girl, as well as the television shows The Munsters, That Regis Philbin Show, American Bandstand, and Shindig!. And all of this was prior to “Dirty Water” in 1966. After “Dirty Water,” the band continued their success with “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” and “Why Pick On Me” before hitting a brick wall in early 1967. The name of the brick wall was Gordon McLendon.

After the major success of “Dirty Water” and minor success of “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” (which you can hear on our site) and “Why Pick On Me” in late 1966, the band had released “Try It,” and watched it grow in popularity. Unfortunately for the group, a radio mogul named Gordon McLendon had chosen this song, written by Marc Bellack and J. Levine, as his prime target in a national campaign to rid the music industry of “filth” and “dirty lyrics.” Our featured story below extrapolates more on the story, straight from the mouth of The Standells’ Larry Tamblyn himself. After reading what Larry had to say, you can listen to “Try It” below and come to your own conclusions.

A Special Edition post with Larry Tamblyn of The Standells!

Today's exclusive story comes from Larry Tamblyn, the organist of the garage rock legends, The Standells. Larry chose to share an interesting history regarding his band's song "Try It" from 1967.
A Bit Like You And Me and readers,

The song “Try It” was The Standells’ third single after “Dirty Water.” It was also featured on the album Try It – The Standells. We thought it would be our next hit. Billboard magazine agreed; they deemed the song as our next number one hit for The Standells, and I feel it would have been had it not been for Gordon McLendon.

McLendon was a very powerful man back then- the owner of the radio station KLIF in Dallas, TX. He also had many ties to right-wing politicians and was known to have been a friend of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald. Many people were frightened of McLendon. He had formed a committee for decency in record lyrics and felt the lyrics to “Try It” encouraged young girls to try sex. Conversely, the song actually had some of the tamest lyrics of many rock songs in those days, like "Let's Spend the Night Together" by The Rolling Stones.

But, McLendon decided to pick on The Standells (because we weren't as big as The Stones). He embarked on a national campaign, visiting major television news stations, and showing our record as an example of filthy record lyrics. Even though the record was the number one seller in many markets, including Los Angeles, most of the radio stations actually listened to McLendon and refused to play it. We investigated McLendon and, of course, discovered he was a major hypocrite. We even debated him on Art Linkletter's House Party, by most accounts defeating him handily; but, to no avail. The song died - and so did the group's popularity and hopes of another hit record.

You can find more details about McLendon on The Standells’ Facebook page. If you visit the photo library “Standells 1962-1969,” you’ll find an L.A. Free Press interview done with me.

Larry Tamblyn

As I told Larry, it's a real shame that guys like McLendon were out to make a name for themselves at the expense of bands like The Standells. Who knows what could have success could have sprung from the popularity of "Try It"? In my own personal research, I've read that the debate between The Standells and Gordon McLendon on Art Linkletter's Let's Talk segment of his show House Party was severely edited. The band supposedly defeated McLendon so badly in the debate, that the producers of the show heavily edited it to prevent the argument from being too one-sided when it aired.

To visit The Standells' webpage, click here.
To visit The Standells' Facebook page, click here.
To visit The Standells' Twitter page, click here.

And now that you've enjoyed this exclusive story, why not check out what other exclusive stories we've received?

album art

The Standells - Try It (1967)

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Alright, baby
It’s alright
I’m gonna tell you somethin’ and you better listen

By the way you look I can tell that you want some action
“Action” is my middle name
Come over here, pretty girl
I’ll give you satisfaction
But two are needed for this game
I’ll give you sweet love you never had before, yeah
You think you’ve seen it all
But you don’t know what’s in store

Come on, try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)

You look excited and you figure that it’s just a bluff
Don’t you dare walk away
I’ll get you, tough little chick, before you fall in love
Come here, girl, what do you say?
Just give the word and my good lovin’ will start
I’ll serve a feverish pitch that’s headed straight for your heart, yeah

Come on, try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Try it, baby (Yeah)

You got me
Aw, you got me
Aw, come on

Girl, once you’ve made up your mind
You’re gonna see that I’m not lyin’

Come on, try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Try it, baby (Yeah)
Try it (Yeah)
Aw, come on, try it (Yeah)
Oh, try it (Yeah)
Oh, try it (Yeah)
Come on, come on, come on (Yeah)
Come on, come on, come on

1 comment:

  1. Great song. Maybe TOO ahead of its time. A year or two later might have meant all the difference. It was a little shocking to me, listening to the lyrics and realizing it was 1967. I guess pushing the limits is a fine line. The Stones walked it very close. Too bad, really, that this song didn't get bigger. I would like to hear more from the Standells if they kept going. With all the huge publicity regarding their lyrics I'm surprised the band didn't leverage that to stay in the spotlight longer...