- Audio CD (1 July 2002)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Ace
- ASIN: B000067A5I
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 196,148 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Love That Louie: the Louie Louie Files CD
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Top Customer Reviews
This Ace CD is subtitled the Louie Louie Files-a parody of the F B I ones-and sets it out in chronological order as The Original Louie,Inspirational Louie (the songs which inspired the song),Northwest Louie,Louie as a way of life (various covers from the Beach Boys to Otis Redding),Transatlantic Louie (the Kinks built their early career on Louie),the Rewrite (the Kingsmen's Long Green uses the chords in reverse),the Sequel and finally Louie Goes Home (Toots & the Maytals which is a reminder that the song is modelled on Carribean imagery and rhythms as the group is from Jamaica)
The booklet is an hours read and this CD is a fitting tribute but with over 1000 Louies there could very well be a sequel
Could Richard Berry's Louie Louie have been a hit at the time? Its doubtful as it was not only a B side but a song done in the Jamaican patois as well as being about a sailor on his way back to Jamaica.In this state it may have hit for Harry Belafonte otherwise it was not even issued in the U K until a series of EPs on the Blue Beat label made it available as it was seen as a Ska record.
Not so back in the States where the song was picked up by a number of frat bands.Today you can hardly imagine a time without Louie which by the 90s had turned into a book,2 CDs,a film and a website
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It starts with the original version by Richard Berry. Most people won't recognize it, because most of us grew up hearing the Kingsmen's version. This version has never been on CD before, due to copyright issues.
After that are 3 songs that influenced Mr. Berry's songwriting. "El Loco Chacha" in particular is a gem of a find. Beyond those 3 are bunch of covers. I don't think I had heard the Beach Boys' version before, but it's fantastic. They stick to the Berry version and incorporate 2 modulations.
Finally, the album finishes off with Louie "knock-offs;" songs that were sequels of the original. I don't like those as much, but they're interesting.
All in all, if you're fascinated with Louie history, this album will not disappoint. It also comes with a great booklet which contains a "mini-history" of the song.
This disc is a treasure. Since I'm 62 years old, I am very familiar with a lot of these different versions that I danced to during my college years, but even I had missed a few of the latter versions. The book that comes with disc enlightened me about the origins and progression of the song and the disc itself has really good recordings of the original releases.
I bought this disc about 6 months ago, and I am still pulling it out to play in rotation because it is just that good and totally irresistible to me. My favorite cut? Number 10, Louie Louie by The Sonics. The Sonics were an obscure group that released their version of Louie Louie in 1965. Their version was instantly my favorite and I fell in love with it immediately. I was very pleased and happy find The Sonics version on this disc. It is great to listen to it again after so long and hear how their version seems to eerily hint about the punk music movement far, far, in the distance.
Every track has its merits, although a surprise for me was the Beach Boys' 1964 LP-cut version which plays beautifully (with their exquisite harmonies) off the Richard Berry original. To best maintain one's sanity, though (or at least avoid a "Louie Louie" overdose), it's probably best to listen to this CD in three or four bite-size pieces.
The one inescapable conclusion is that the Jack Ely Kingsmen's 1963 mega-hit version is the one that leaps out at you (figuratively) and leaves the rest - as good as a number of them may be - far behind. (I'm identifying the band as the Jack Ely Kingsmen because it continued without him after the recording and before the record became a hit, due to a rupture within the group.) 98% of the time, I would estimate, the original version by the singer-songwriter is best, but occasionally something truly inspired will occur with someone else's recording. I think immediately of Jimi Hendrix doing Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" so powerfully that Dylan himself instantly recognized it and altered the way he subsequently performed the song. The Jack Ely Kingsmen's take (and it was actually done in one single take) on "Louie Louie" is one of rock's most magical moments and could never be duplicated. After listening to the clearly-articulated "Louie Louie" lyrics repeatedly on this disc, the muffled distortion, slurring and timing gaffe which are part of Ely's vocal never sounded so positively refreshing; and the whole fuzzy-filthy, bass-heavy, unpolished, lo-fi sound of the band signaled a real break from the past in American rock and roll. (Ely is interviewed in the liner notes and explains that the band thought they were doing a warm-up run-through of the song and were shocked they were not going to at least get a second take to get it right. But producer Ken Chase [also interviewed here] wanted the recording to feel live and immediate and, above all, danceable - and he knew he got it in that first take. That was the essence of real rock and roll as opposed to sterile, uninspired, studio-manufactured perfectionism.)
The historic significance of the Jack Ely Kingsmen version of "Louie Louie":
It was by far the biggest rock and roll and R&B hit record between the time of the JFK assassination in late-November 1963 and the Beatles' taking over the top of the U.S. pop charts at the start of February 1964. On the Billboard Hot 100 it was blocked from the #1 spot for seven consecutive weeks by either or both the Singing Nun's French-language religious folk song "Dominique" and Bobby Vinton's cover of the old (1945) Vaughn Monroe romantic pop ballad "There! I've Said It Again" - both clearly at the opposite end of the musical spectrum from this smash version of "Louie Louie." As for the other two major national pop charts, it reached #1 for two weeks in Cash Box (January 1964) and one week (New Year's) in Music Vendor. Not well remembered is that its biggest impact was on the R&B chart (Cash Box's was the only major national one at the time) where it was the #1 record for an astounding six weeks - making it the third biggest R&B hit of 1963-1964. Its six weeks at #1 R&B represented the longest run at the top spot of any recognized national R&B/soul chart by a white recording act until well into the first decade of the 21st century!
Then there was the infamous FBI investigation of the record, supposedly to determine whether or not it violated interstate obscenity-trafficking laws and sought to corrupt the youth of America. Despite the real FBI man-hours involved, it was a phony deal (they never bothered to interview Jack Ely who could have instantly informed them to a 100% certainty that there was no hidden vulgarity nor even a single double-entendre in the lyrics he sang - or shouted and slurred as the case may be). It seemed to have been a contrived diversion intended to keep the public duly scandalized and not thinking about the truly scandalous cover-up of the Kennedy killing that was really going on at the time. The FBI's earth-shaking conclusion on "Louie Louie" was that it's "unintelligible at any speed."
There was definitely a conspiracy at Billboard magazine whereby its conservative editorial board kept "Louie Louie" from ever attaining its rightful top spot on their influential Hot 100 pop chart during its phenomenal run of popularity. They claimed discretion in banning certain records from the top spot if they didn't feel they met a high-enough standard of musical quality. This was not a problem for Alvin & the Chipmunks, but somehow it came into play here.
In a delicious case of irony, while the hit version of "Louie Louie" (which did get banned in a number of U.S. radio markets - and was most notoriously forbidden by the governor of Indiana!) was eventually cleared of all obscenity suspicions, completely missed - except in France where it was banned from national radio - was the fact that the Belgian Singing Nun's (a.k.a. Soeur Sourire [Sister Smile]) "Dominique" contained a blatantly obscene sexual-slang expression (repeated over and over in the chorus!) which of course the good sister was blissfully unaware of. Apparently, French Canada missed it as well.
For a second delicious scoop of irony, the only bit of unimagined obscenity in the Kingsmen's "Louie Louie" went completely unnoticed by the FBI et al - and it did not involve Jack Ely, the vocalist. Instead, at the 0:54 mark, in what evidently passed for just being a random grunt, the drummer Lynn Easton lost his grip on a drumstick and clearly exclaimed, "F**k!"