Friday, June 29, 2012

The Primitives - The Ostrich / Sneaky Pete [7" Single]

The Primitives - The Ostrich / Sneaky Pete (7" vinyl single)
Genre - Rock and Roll, Experimental, Parody
Released - 1964
Length - 4:44
Publisher - Pickwick City Records

Side A: The Ostrich
Side B: Sneaky Pete

Before Lou Reed formed the legendary Velvet Underground, he worked as a staff songwriter for Pickwick City Records. This was essentially a hit factory, one of many in the early 60's. They were quite common and many famous songwriters started out at these businesses writing hits (and misses) for other singers. If anyone remember the film Grace Of My Heart, they'll know what I'm talking about. Not the best film, but it is loosely based on Carole King's early songwriting career at a songwriting firm. It was at Pickwick that Reed honed his songwriting skills and gained experience in the recording studio. Many Velvets songs were written by Reed at this time, and while songs about Heroin and NYC street life were probably not Pickwick executives' idea of marketable hits, they took notice of another song he wrote, a catchy dance number called "The Ostrich".

At first glance, it sounds like a typical flavor of the week dance tune from 1964, but the song is actually kind of subversive and revolutionary. The lyrics parody other dance tunes of the era (at one point Reed sings, "put your head on the floor and have somebody step on it"). Really worth noting is the guitar. Reed tuned every string to the note D for a droning effect (this technique would resurface on The Velvet Underground & Nico, credited as "ostrich guitar" in that album's liner notes). This impressed one of the studio musicians playing on the record, John Cale. Cale was also experimenting with drone as a member of LaMonte Young's avant garde group The Dream Syndicate (not to be confused with the 80's band). The single quickly faded into obscurity but it is notable as the first recording featuring Cale and Reed performing together, and was therefore the seed of a collaborative partnership that would produce some of the most revolutionary and original music of the late 60's.

8 out of 10

To the best my knowledge, "The Ostrich" and it's b-side "Sneaky Pete" have never been re-released, so I'm sharing it here. It's only 128 kbps mp3, so sorry about the low quality.

get it

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