Friday, November 11, 2016
SHG: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs: "Wooly Bully"
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs: “Wooly Bully”
Entered the chart on: 5/10/65
Peaked on: 6/5/65
Weeks at #2: 2
Songs at #1: “Help Me Rhonda” by the Beach Boys and “Back in My Arms Again” by the Supremes
Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, no matter how you look at them, are a damn strange band. First, there is the matter of their image. I’m guessing Domingo “Sam the Sham” Samudio decided, on account of his angular features and Van Dyke beard, that he looked good in sultan drag, and the rest of the band just fell in behind him on that.
Second, there is the matter of this song. On the surface, it’s following in the footsteps of the Kingsmen, more of that scrappy garage-y rock, only this time with Tex-Mex spice. But dig a little deeper and...um...huh? Well, let’s examine this more closely...
I have a hard time believing this was released on MGM. Really? The label that brought us Connie Francis and Joni James also brought us something this raucous and crude? It hardly seems possible!
While Sam’s cheap transistor organ places this squarely in the middle 60s, they seriously tap into the 50s rock spirit with this song, replete with wailing sax solo. It’s Sam’s crazy vocal performance that makes this, and I love that he includes a bit of his heritage in the count-in for the song right at the beginning (“Uno, dos...one, two, tres, cuatro!”).
And then there’s the matter of the lyrics. Um...what is this song about? As near as I can guess, it’s about a werewolf, tapping into the monster craze spurred by Universal’s re-release of their classic monster pictures around this time. But really, it’s anyone’s guess. It’s just funny doggerel for Sam to spit out as he and the band get the party hopping.
And really, I can’t imagine a more fun way to get it done.