Graham Reid | | 1 min read
It's a common enough sentiment, but in the fast-changing world of pop "If it ain't broke, why try to fix it?" just doesn't work.
That idea would have kept the Beatles singing variants of She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand for a few years and in all likelihood they would have become one of those rapidly redundant pop sensations remembered only for their Ed Sullivan Show appearance, a few hits and then "whatever happened to" spots on classic hits radio.
Certainly it seems if Mike Love had had his way, the Beach Boys never would have gone much further than Good Vibrations (far enough some might say) and have been forever singng chirpy surf and hot-rod pop about fun-fun-fun.
And so it was with ? and the Mysterians out of Michigan. Fronted by ?/Rudy Martinez -- who never appeared in public wthout his dark sunglasses on -- they scored a huge hit with 96 Tears in '66 which was notable for the repetitive Vox organ riff throughout, and the distinctively rough vocals by Martinez.
But after that things went immediately downhill and although they did some interesting material, the word is that their management insisted "if it ain't broke" and wanted just about everything to sound like 96 Tears.
This organ-driven song, their third single and relased in the year the world went psychedelic, sounds like it fell off the same truck carrying 96 Tears into record stores.
After its relative failure -- and everything is relative to 96 Tears which was a number one seller -- there were line-up changes, label changes and in '70 the band reformed . . . without keyboards.
A version of the band still plays today but ?/Martinez is rarely part of it.
But in a couple of interesting footnotes to this story of a band which could have/should have "fixed it": the term "punk rock" was first used by Rolling Stone writer Dave Marsh to describe their sound in '71; and because they lost their publishing to Allen Klein (notorious for his management of the Rolling Stones and of course the Beatles during their Apple period), they re-recored their 96 Tears debut album again in the late Nineties.
Their single 96 Tears remains a highpoint of garageband rock, and Can't Get Enough of You Baby proves that sometimes even if it isn't broke you still need to tinker with the formula just a little.
For more one-offs, songs with an interesting backstory or oddities see From the Vaults.