This summer, the oldest song that was constantly on my playlist was Poison Ivy by The Coasters. I knew the song already, but hearing the Rolling Stones’ (passable) version of it on their debut EP turned me back onto it. There’s something so charming about a line like You’re gonna need an ocean / of calamine lotion, that it’s hard to not smile.
Like most people my age I probably heard The Coasters for the first time on the soundtrack to the classic Stand By Me. The use of Yakety Yak in that film probably goes to show how the group is more remembered for their Leiber & Stoller penned pop songs rather than their more traditional Blues-based output. Charlie Brown is a great example of a song that – obviously due to its subject matter – feels like it was written for children and young teens, but it’s just so catchy that it’s still a great pop song (only the sound of the production has dated).
When I started listening to music in my early teens, The Coasters were again introduced to me by way of The Beatles. Their version of Searchin’ can be heard on their Decca audition tape, available on Anthology 1. I then heard The Blues Brothers’ version of Riot In Cell Block Number 9. It seems that the group has influenced a lot of work, and probably still do to this day.
One of the things I like most about this record is that it’s not a rushed-release hotchpotch of singles, crammed onto a minor label when the publishing for the songs came up at a reduced rate. It’s a full-on Atlantic Records release, on a nice hefty slab of vinyl (probably close to what we’d refer to as heavyweight vinyl in this age of vinyl revival). It comes with a nice set of liner notes, and the disc comes with the classic orange and green Atlantic Records label. Atlantic Records may not be my favourite record label – that has to be Stax, just for its sheer David & Golliath-ness – but Atlantic Records is probably the most consistent in terms of sheer quality of output. It’s also probably the most prominent label in my collection thanks to the mighty ‘DC, Zeppelin, and the occasional gem like this.
Hit: Yakety Yak
Hidden Gem: Little Egypt