The McCoys are a group from my high school days that produced a number of songs that are still very listenable and put a smile on my face even today. They were a typical Midwestern garage band that was able to develop some pop sensibilities that allowed them to add a little polish to their music and gain some widespread appeal. They also were led by vocalist and guitarist Rick Zehringer who would later change his name to Derringer and go on to have a stellar career both as a solo artist and as a cohort of Johnny and Edgar Winter.
In July of 1965 they served as the backing band for the Strangeloves who had a hit at the time with “I Want Candy.” The Strangeloves were supposed to record a version of the Vibrations hit, “My Girl Sloopy,” but through a series of events the McCoys recorded the song instead. Issued under the name “Hang On Sloopy,” it quickly sold a million copies and became a number one hit in the United States. It remains an enduring song with its drum introduction and harmonies that weave in and out. It is the official rock song of Ohio State University and is one of the great party songs from the mid-sixties.
The Best Of The McCoys gathers 22 tracks from their time on the Bang label. All the A sides from their single releases plus the better B sides, two unreleased songs, and a few rarities that have not seen the light of day in decades all add up to an album of excellent music that presents a nice slice of the sixties. The bonus is that 21 of the songs are in true stereo. This is the first time I had heard “Hang On Sloopy” given this treatment and it adds a dimension and crispness that improves the quality of the track and others as well.
Their only other top ten hit was a remake of the old Peggy Lee song “Fever.” This song has been recorded hundreds of times but The McCoys’ rock version made it into the American top ten.
They were basically a cover band at this time as they only wrote two of the tracks. They also did not produce ballads. They kept it simple with a lead guitar, bass, keyboards and drums which supported Rick’s soulful vocals and wonderful harmonies. Bassist Randy Hobbs would go on to play with Johnny Winter for a number of years and his bass lines on many of the tracks are exceptional.
Their rendition of the old Ritchie Valens song, “Come On Let’s Go” and “You Make Me Feel So Good” are both energetic rockers and well done. “I Got To Go Back (And Watch That Little Girl Dance)” contains some early examples of a fuzz guitar sound. Songs such as “I Can’t Explain,” “If You Tell A Lie,” “Up and Down.” and “Little People” are still pleasurable over four decades later.
The two songs that are somewhat different are “Sorrow,” which was the flip side of the “Fever” single and “Don’t Worry Mother (Your Son’s Heart Is Pure).” They are more psychedelic in nature and would look ahead to their work with the Mercury label where they released two excellent progressive rock albums.
The McCoys work certainly cannot stand up to the quality of the music that The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and many other artists were producing at the time. Still they produced a small but enjoyable body of work that is worth seeking out. The Best Of The McCoys is refined garage rock at its simple best.
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