The Swingin’ Medallions are a band from my youth who amazingly are still out on the road today. They are known as “The Party Band Of The South” and in September of 2009 performed on stage with Bruce Springsteen in Greenville, South Carolina.
They were formed in the early sixties and produced their only two hit songs in 1966. They are known for their beach music or frat rock sound and continue to play the dance and party circuit in their native south.
The original band was a large aggregation as it was comprised of two drummers, bass, keyboards, guitar, and a four piece brass section. A number of their songs used multiple voices rather than just one voice as the lead. They opened for such acts as The Dave Clark Five, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, The Temptations, Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye, and more.
Anthology remains their most definitive release as it gathers just about all of their mid-sixties material onto one CD.
“Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)” was their biggest hit, cracking the American top twenty in 1966. It is an organ driven, up-tempo tune that makes you want to smile and get up out of your seat and dance. Bruce Springsteen called it, “the greatest fraternity rock song of all time.” “She Drives Me Out Of My Mind” is very similar in structure to their first hit and was their only other track to chart in The United States. “Hey Hey Baby” should have been a hit. It is a nice brass driven song that is perfect for a sunny day at the beach.
Many of the other songs are a hit or miss affair. They were and are a party band and as such played a number of hits of the day. Their versions of such well known songs as “Hang On Sloopy,” “Louie Louie,” and “Wooly Bully” pale next to the originals. The best of the lot is a smooth, brass laden “I’m Gonna Make Her Mine” and their cover of “Barefootin’” which just percolates along with some excellent sax work.
The final three tracks are taken from a live concert in South Bend, Indiana circa 1978. The sound has evolved a great deal from their mid-sixties days. “Willie Don’t Play That Saxophone” is bar band music at its best. “Shaggin’ In The Moonlight” contains some nice harmonies. “The Boys Are Back In Town” is presented as a jump/swing piece with the brass driving the song along.
The Swingin’ Medallions are emblematic of many bands who just keep on doing what they enjoy. They are an ultimate party band. The music may not be essential, but it is energetic and is guaranteed to make you smile and hopefully dance along.