Thursday, October 31, 2013

Classics IV, "Spooky"

I've marked other Halloweens with some obvious choices: "Night on Bald Mountain" and "The Monster Mash", and a less than obvious one: "Ambrose (Part 5)", by comely Brooklynite Linda Laurie. This year I've gone back to something obvious.

I remember "Spooky" from my first year of law school. I wasn't crazy about it; I was more into hard rock and folk at the time, and "Spooky" sounded a bit too jazzy for my taste. Now, having looked at the song's Wikipedia entry, I know that it started as a saxophone instrumental that was a minor hit for Mike Sharpe. Still, I noticed that the song seemed to stick in my head; as a rock critic would say, it had hooks. And their singer, the late Dennis Yost, had a way with a tune.

One of the WRKO DJs mentioned that the group was from Atlanta. Now, having seen the band's Wiki, I know they originated in my old home state, Florida, specifically Jacksonville. They have a history that intertwines with that of Southern rock at large. Two members of the group later joined fellow Jacksonvillian Robert Nix in the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Nix had been the drummer for the Candymen, a group that had been the backup band for Roy Orbison and several other stars before going on its own to record "Georgia Pines":

I also heard "Georgia Pines" during my 1L year, one night when I was up late studying and listening to WBCN, Boston's first "underground" FM rock station. The DJ introduced the song as "Southern white soul" and said the lead singer was Rodney Justo. I've since learned that Rodney is a fellow Tampan. (Some of my old friends have taken to calling themselves "Tampanians" because "Tampan" sounds too much like something else; I say "Who cares? We can absorb it!"). Rodney was with Nix in ARS as their lead singer. ARS did a cover of "Spooky", as did Dusty Springfield, Lydia Lunch, and many others.