The Kingtones & The Holy Grail
The following is from Eric Predoehl's Louie Louie
website, with a posting by Drake Bradley concerning the Kingtones release of the song Louie Louie in 1987.
December 19, 2007
Kingtones & The Holy Grail
Filed under: Garage Rock, LOUIE Universe, New Versions, Old Versions — EP @ 1:24 am
Today, I’m going to let my friend Drake Bradley do a guest blogging about a musical quest that involves LOUIE LOUIE.
Enjoy ! - E.P.
* * * * * * * *The Holy Grail
suppose some people might Google the phrase above and wonder how the
heck they ended up at a Louie Louie site. After all, we’re not talking
about a silver chalice or mysterious artifact, the secret to
immortality, or even the blood descendant of a famous carpenter. Nope,
we’re talking about the quest for an original Louie. Only hardcore
devotees of the subject — people who spend hours a day searching for
new versions — really get it.
quest starts by trying to collect all the better known versions of the
song, then more obscure songs of interest only to collectors. The
ultimate rush comes from discovering a previously unknown version, say
from a discarded cassette tape with a homemade recording of Louie Louie
by some garage band that rehearsed a couple of times and broke up.
you find Louie when you aren’t even looking for it. A couple of months
ago I was using an mp3 search engine to look for variants of one of my
favorite songs, C. C. Rider. That landed me at a website for a garage
band called The Kingtones
They had a short sample of C. C. Rider that was really great, and I
wrote the band to see if I could get a full length version. Bruce Snoap
one of the original members, got back to me and kindly offered to make
both C. C. Rider and Proud Mary available at the website. This required
some technical wizardry, as the songs had to be converted from tape at
a higher resolution than was previously used for the samples.
some point in our correspondence I asked if the Kingtones had ever done
Louie Louie. No sample had been posted on the sample page, but I
figured they might have a recording of it lying around in the archives.
Bruce emailed me back to say yes, they did have a recording on cassette
tape. The Holy Grail was now within reach, and I literally jumped at
the opportunity. After much negotiation, arm- twisting, and promises of
1st-born sons I convinced Bruce to post the song on the band’s web
page. (Actually, one email did the trick.) Helping Bruce to resurrect
Louie Louie was Phil Roberts
, another original member of the band, and Joe Mercier
, who provided technical assistance. The result is, I think, well worth their effort.
To hear the “new” Louie, go to the Kingtones’ website, click on Music Samples
, scroll two-thirds the way down the page, and click on Louie Louie (see graphic). Or you can simply click here
. While you are at it, give a listen to C. C. Rider
and Proud Mary
All are full-length, 160 kbps / 44.1 kHz versions of the songs. If you
are so disposed, crank the volume up and listen to the Kingtones rock
Kingtones’ Louie Louie, taped live in 1987, is basically the same
version they performed in 1963 during the Louie craze. On hearing the
Kingtones’ version, EP said “… I love it. It’s a raw Kingsmen- inspired
copy with a lot of attitude. What’s not to love?” That pretty much sums
it up. It starts out with a slow organ intro, accompanied by the buzz
of an amplifier which hints at the pounding guitar chords to follow.
The lyrics are obviously improvised, and when I asked Bruce Snoap about
this, he said:“… when Louie
Louie 1st came out, there were no words to the song to be found, at
least we couldn’t find them. So 5 of us listened to the song over and
over trying to figure out the lyrics. What you hear in our version is
the best we could come up with. After the words were published, we were
so used to doing it with the wrong words, we just kept it that way.”
Kingtones were a regional band out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The band
started in 1957 when the original members were only 13 or 14. In 1961
they cut their first record, “Wish for an Angel / Don’t Come Around”,
which hit No. 1 on the local Top 40 charts in West Michigan. In 1963
the Kingtones opened, backed, or performed with Del Shannon
, Bobby Vee
, Bobby Vinton
, and The Beach Boys
In the same year they released their third and most successful record,
“Twins,” which reached No. 7 on the local Top 40 charts. Cadet
Distributing, a promotional firm in Detroit, re-released “Twins” in
1964 with a slightly different arrangement. Although the record was
promoted heavily in the western states, just when it looked as though
it was going to take off the “British Invasion” struck and the record
stopped receiving airplay. Undaunted, the group continued to perform as
a highly popular garage band for the next four and a half decades.
In 1987 the Kingtones made a cassette tape
for limited distribution of the 15 most requested songs they did:
Mother-in-Law, Language of Love, Summertime Blues, Proud Mary, Sloopy,
C. C. Rider, Act Naturally, I’ve Had It, Louie Louie, Duke of Earl,
Wooly Bully, Johnny B. Goode, Gloria, Rip It Up, and Happy Birthday.
The Holy Grail comes from this tape.
In 2004, WGVU TV / Kingtones Documentary, The Kingtones: A Retro-Spective won a national award
On November 10, 2007, the Kingtones put on their final public performance
in a 50-year career of rock ‘n’ roll, nourished no doubt by the magic and energy of that 3-chord rock anthem, Louie Louie.Drake Bradley
* * * * * * * *
All photographs graciously provided by Kingtones.com