Storming, urgent garage rock burst of the Pickett classic
Year of Release: 1967
"In The Midnight Hour" is one of those songs which has has always been buzzing somewhere in the background all my life - on the radio, at parties, in the set of that well-meaning sixth form college covers band who played 'all the classics' their teenage abilities could cope with, on a relative's Atlantic soul compilation in the car... and there is probably nobody reading this right now who hasn't heard it.
However, in the sixties its simplicity made it an attractive set choice for the numerous young garage bands popping up all over the USA, meaning that besides Pickett's powerful and popular original rendition, there are a number of others which sound like a bunch of speedy spotty herberts thrashing around as if the 'midnight hour' in question couldn't come quickly enough.
The Wanted's rendition is probably my favourite of that set. Sacrificing groove and soul for thrash and fury, it picks the song up, grabs it by the arms and swings around their cramped quarters, bashing it against the walls and ceiling and leaving it in a heap after less than two minutes. Like the best garage tracks, it translates the energy and attitude of a strong but chaotic live show to vinyl with effectiveness, making you feel as if you can taste the cheap, fizzy beer on tap and smell the armpits of the fat bald man in front of you (so maybe it's not all good, then).
The group were from Grosse Pointe in Michigan. They consisted of Arnie DeClark on rhythm guitar, Dave Fermstrum on organ, Bill Montgomery on bass, Tim Shea on lead guitar and Chip Steiner on drums. According to the Garage Hangover website, the owner of the Detroit Sound label they began releasing records on was the drummer's father Irv Steiner, a mightily convenient connection that presumably enabled them to put out rockers like this one on a label usually reserved for proper soul releases. Sometimes nepotism can work out well for all of us.
Four singles were put out on Detroit Sound, starting with "Here To Stay" - here finding a space on the flipside - and ending with "Midnight Hour". Following a spell of regional success in the Michigan and Ontario areas, A&M re-released "Midnight Hour" nationally, and also tried to push them with a follow-up "Don't Worry Baby" (unrelated to the Beach Boys track of the same name). Neither sold in the quantities anticipated, and it looks as if the band ceased their activities not long afterwards.
"In The Midnight Hour" worked its way on to a few garage compilations in the eighties and nineties, but these seem to have fallen out of distribution and the track is currently unavailable. Please find it presented below for your delight. The flip, on the other hand, is a sombre and reflective ballad which remains in circulation, putting it off-limits for this blog - but you can check it out on YouTube.