Graham Reid | | 1 min read
Because he was just a great rock'n'soul, one-off belter in that dead air between Elvis-in-the-army and the Beatles-on-Ed Sullivan, there was no reason to think Gary Bonds would have had any second life in rock'n'roll.
He was, for many, just a space-filler in history with minor hits like the exceptional Quarter to Three in '61 and . . . . Well, that was it, really.
But like so many artists we drag From the Vaults, there was more to him than just that flickering moment under the spotlight. Bonds delivered energy and commitment, and even if he did end up working mundane clubs through the Sixties and Seventies, he was not forgotten. Certainly not by Bruce Springsteen and garage-punk-soul aficionado Steven Van Zandt who grew up on rock'n'soul music like Quarter to Three.
Sometimes just that one hit is enough for someone to imprint themselves into your teenage memory forever.
So when Springtseen hit big he helped resurrect the career of Bonds with the album Dedication, and on it Gary knocked out this white-knuckle version of Bob Dylan's From a Buick 6 which, when you think about its methamphetamine origins in 1965, should have meant nothing to a guy now reduced to playing Jersey shore clubs and singing his sole hit.
But Bonds finds the pounding, noisy rock'n'roll nub of it, right from the opening words "I got this . . . ." which echoes Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me and by extension Lennon's Come Together.
What Gary US Bonds reminds us of in this revision/version of electro-folk Dylan was that right in the middle of this song was fiery rock'n'roll heart beamed in from the late Fifties, that place where Gary and Bob came of age.
It is like two hands reaching across generations, not shaking . . . . but fist-punching.
This Gary US Bonds track is lifted from the exceptional collection How Many Roads; Black America Sings Bob Dylan which also features the likes of the Staples Singers, Nina Simone, Solomon Burke, Booker T, Esther Phillips and many other black artists taking on and redefining Bob.
For more on-offs or songs with an interesting back-story see From the Vaults.