Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Blue Things—
La Do Da Da/I Must Be Doing Something Wrong


Released 1965 on RCA Victor
The Seth Man, April 2002ce
Although both sides of this single appeared on The Blue Things’ self-named and only album, the A-side “La Do Da Da” is light years away from the rest of their recorded output which comprised of competent mid-sixties folk-rock akin to “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” meets Sonny & Cher on the corner of Byrds and Brummels. But “La Do Da Da” is where The Blue Things broke away from their otherwise jingle-jangle straight jacket and went full tilt beyond merely souped up go-go beat OH YEAH, BABY and just freaked out with a truly rave-up moment where the sparks fly fast and furious. Which is not surprising at all when you consider that the original was written and recorded by Dale Hawkins; author of the classic boner-dragger, “Suzie Q.” But equally surprising is the fact that this cover was recorded and released in 1965 and The Blue Things hailed from that unlikeliest location of Kansas, located directly in the middle of the continental USA. But with “La Do Da Da,” the band weren’t in Kansas anymore. It is SO ahead of the curve -- it’s not just garage punk or surf but a rousing composite of both and informed by a crazily sped up rockabilly beat. While projecting it further into the stratosphere was the inordinately applied reverb RCA Victor was so fond of adding to many of their 45 releases during the mid-sixties (a classic example being The Jefferson Airplane’s “It’s No Secret” which makes the rechannelled stereo version of their own “Surrealist Pillow” album seem prudently ‘echoed’ by comparison.)

The Blue Things on this single were: Val Stecklein: vocals, rhythm guitar; Mike Chapman: guitar; Richard Scott: bass and joined in the studio by session drummer Jerry Carrigan. And it was Carrigan who propelled “La Do Da Da” into a driving, engine room sweat-out: stapling extra matches to the ever-fraying end of the lit fuse which are Mike Chapman’s two frenzied solos while the belaboured hi-hat gets recorded at such dangerously high levels that the extra reverb just bleeds them into a single clattering drone. The lyrics trade off between lovingly intoned ‘La Do Da Da’ s, and the far less monosyllabatic verses express sore, gurl-pining deluxe complete with hopefully throbbing heart in hand: “You are the woman/Drives me crazy...Never say ‘yes’, oh no:/but only ‘maybe’...Won’t you please say ‘yes, you’ll/Be my girl...” as Stecklein’s steady surf and sure rhythm guitar just continues to unflinchingly anchor it all down so it won’t explode to bits...Which it threatens to do on Chapman’s two aforementioned heckled and chicken strangulated guitar solos which are turned it at top speed and undying propulsive rates. One of the earliest, furriest and unfussiest angles on Merseybeat wig-outs ever.

In “La Do Da Da” is about as incendiary as much as the flipside, “I Must Be Doing Something Wrong” isn’t. Arranged into a tempo far calmer with prominent vocal harmonies like The Mamas & The Papas (but without The Mamas), this group composition is more in compliance with their album’s overall folk-rock sensibility. Which is not necessarily a bad thing: but hearing The Blue Things cutting it so shamelessly loose and untamed on the other side of this single makes one wonder why they didn’t more often during their all-too short run.