Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Human Beinz - Nobody But Me/Sueno

The Human Beinz
Nobody But Me/Sueno

Released 1967 on Capitol
Reviewed by Brandon Tenold, 19/02/2009ce

The 60’s were full of garage rock groups who managed to capture the public’s attention with a single song before fading away into obscurity/cult status. Some of these groups, like the 13th Floor Elevators, have a much richer body of work than their lone bit of chart success would indicate, and have albums well worth investigating. Ohio’s Human Beinz are not one of those groups. Their albums are not lost classics and all the band members are pretty indistinguishable, not even close to having a unique and interesting figure like Rocky Erickson among them. However, their raucous cover of the Isley Brother’s hip-shaking “Nobody but Me” is proof that even for an otherwise unremarkable group, lightning can gloriously strike at least once.

Since I’m technically reviewing a single release here and not just one track, I feel that I should get the b-side out of the way first. It’s an innocuous little ditty called “Sueno”, all slow tempos and folk progressions and some vaguely “not-from-a-western-civilization” guitar licks. Long story short, it’s the antithesis of the a-side and unfortunately more representative of the group’s body of work then “Nobody but Me”. But enough negativity! Let’s get to the good stuff already!

Beginning with a throbbing one-note bass-line and an insistent drumbeat, some hand-claps quickly enter along with some rhythmic repetitions of a word we’re going to be hearing a lot during the song’s short duration: “No”. Christ, we’re not even 30 seconds in and the song is already hooky. The bass and drums continue while the band gets into the verse proper, a boastful assertion of dance floor superiority featuring still more catchy lead singer/background vocal mad-libbing:

“Nobody can do the (SHING-A-LING!) like I do!”

“Nobody can do the (SKATE!) like I do!”

“Nobody can do the (BOOGALOO!) like I do!”

“Nobody can do the (PHILLY!) like I do!”

The song then switches to a 12-bar blues progression while the lead singer boasts about how he’s gonna skate (SKATE!), he’s gonna philly (PHILLY!), and it’s gonna be nobody, NOBODY but him baby! But wait, we haven’t even reached the chorus yet! This is just the pre-chorus! The real chorus comes in with the vocals trading the word “Nobody” back and forth, the guitars only providing short staccato stabs while the bass carries most of the melodic weight. It’s simple, concise and catchy as fuck, just like everything else up to this point.

The chorus ends as the track briefly breaks down to the rhythm section, the percussion banging away as effectively as ever while the bass plays another hooky line. Then we’re off into the guitar solo, playing over top of what sounds like the hum of a vacuum cleaner. My guess is that they were going for some sort of east Indian inspired sitar-like drone, but to these ears it sounds like they just fired up the ole’ Hoover and let er’ rip! And what a guitar solo it is, coming off as an even dirtier version of Dave Davies crack-handed amphetamine-punk noodling on “You Really Got Me”. The bass returns to its opening one-note throb as the band repeats the “No No No’s” and dance floor machismo of the beginning before deciding to mix the “No’s” of the beginning with the “Nobody’s” of the chorus, the bass adding some fancy runs before the track fade’s out. Do I even need to tell you it’s catchy?

The track flows smoothly from one section to the next while retaining its “Nuggets” worthy garage-bred vibe, managing to pack a lot into less than 2 ½ minutes. The Human Beinz may have been mere one-hit wonders, but in this case, both parts of that description are richly deserved.

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