Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Osmonds—
Crazy Horses/That's My Girl


Released 1972 on MGM
The Seth Man, September 2000ce
This 45 is one of the rare instances when you believe all your faculties in judgment have failed you, your comeuppance steaming directly in your face. Because who would think that The Osmonds, of all people, would come up with a roiling rock out that was anti-pollution to boot? It’s funny that Donny and Marie cut a song called “Deep Purple,” because I was immediately reminded of that group the first time I ever heard “Crazy Horses” as my sarcastic snorts and guffaws immediately halted.

Why? Because it ROCKS. It really does. And this single (or rather, the A-side, because the B-side is typical Osmonds ballad fare with accompanying strings, horns) is a terrifying reminder that sometimes all is not what it seems, and no matter how many miles of record you peruse and hear, you can NEVER, EVER completely judge a record by its cover. And if you think it’s crazy that a group more stylistically down with The Cowsills or Up With People would cut even ONE track that is a romper room ruckus with a power rhythm guitar plus kick ass drums, well, join the club. Because “Crazy Horses” IS crazy. It was crazy when The Sensational Alex Harvey Band covered it but since context and timing is everything in pop music, coming from The Osmonds (a group I’d always assumed always played it safe) this song is even crazier.

First of all, that NOISE that starts up the song: is it a whammy-bar guitar imitating a team of polluting horses or a tape speed manipulation of Donny singing “Wow, wow”? Whatever it is, it’s a pitch-shifting freak out noise that gets thrown in at the beginning, the middle and the end and it’s completely fucked up. The dirty, grimy and ever polluting horses of the Apocalypse are on the move after the war tom toms introduce a full blown rock out, like Deep Purple joining The Sweet on “Sweet F.A.” (Which is pretty heavy, as The Sweet completely Purp-ed on that one...hmmm...let’s just say it’s Ritchie Blackmore at not top speed or delivery, but still kicking ass. Yeah, that’ll do) and then some Osmond (perhaps Alan, as it sounds too mature for Donny at this point) starts delivering vocals in a swaggering macho tone that strangulates itself right before the basso profundo chorus-ing of the title. The horn section is shoring up the rhythm guitar, and the solo is totally slow-mo Blackmore, but between the breakneck pace of whole thing AND the fact it’s The Osmonds makes it a killer all the same. Horns in the end chase out the hay-wiring coda as the drumming, all bell of cymbal denoting hot rockin’ action now revert to full on doubling up, heavy on the flash bashing of cymbals. And the “wow wow” noise continues and repeats over and over into the fade.

Everything about “Crazy Horses” is boggling; not least of all how MGM Records’ president Mike Curb allowed such a totally rough track to be released not only as a single but the title track to an Osmonds album. Astonishing.