Thursday, September 23, 2010
Nobody But Me, Human Beinz (1967)
One of the many kicks of having this blog is discovering that songs I figured were original were actually cover versions. Sometimes a cover is a reasonably faithful interpretation of its predecessor; other times it's barely recognizable, so unique is the new incarnation.
The latter scenario applies to the Human Beinz' Nobody But Me, which tonight enjoyed massive exposure to new audiences kicking off the new season of The Office. Unbeknownst to me, until my friend Chuck pointed it out to me this morning, Nobody But Me was a cover of an Isley Brothers song. To say that it was changed up a good bit by the moptop quartet from Youngstown, Ohio, would be an understatement.
A prime example of garage rock at its most exuberant and ferocious (unlike the weak original), the song repeats the word 'no' or 'nobody' more times in 2:16 than I care to count, working anyone who comes within earshot of its driving arrangement into a frenzy. They were apparently wildly popular in their neck of the woods, playing to enthusiastic crowds virtually every night of the week (or so they say on their official website). With that sort of frequency it was only a matter of time before a record label was tipped off to them. And so they were signed to Capitol Records, had the top 10 hit, and then performed and toured as a group for another several years before breaking up.
Rhythm guitarist Ting Markulin says that Nobody But Me was originally seven minutes long, with a lengthy jam in the middle that was cut, naturally, to conform to the two-minute rule that governed radio airplay in those days. It's hard to imagine rocking out that hard for that length of time to just one song - the existing version has enough mojo as it is. If you're interested in a deconstruction of the song, Markulin provides an in-depth look at how it saw the light of day on their site.
I have no further associations of them beyond this song, but it turns out they had a larger repertoire, not all of it as down and dirty as Nobody But Me. YouTube has a lot of examples of their songs - check them out!