The Hippo


Jun 26, 2019








The Standells

 The Standells with The 

Connection and Watts
When: Wednesday, May 7, at 8 p.m. 
Where: Dover Brickhouse, Dover
Tickets: $18/advance, $20/door at 

Back to the banks of the river Charles
Standells return to Boston, with a Seacoast stop

By Michael Witthaus

 At times, the story of “Dirty Water” seems as murky as the garage rock classic’s title. Larry Tamblyn of the Standells recalls a song that wasn’t much in its original form. 

“We didn’t like it. … We said, ‘Let us work with it and arrange it, then we’ll record it,’” he said in a recent phone interview. 
Producer Ed Cobb came up with the lyrics after allegedly getting mugged in Boston while on tour with his vocal group The Four Preps. But Cobb couldn’t translate it very well. 
“It was a standard blues song, but this guy with a legitimate type of voice,” said Tamblyn. “That didn’t impress me. So we created the guitar riff and … all those wonderful asides — ‘I’m gonna tell you a great big story’ and ‘Yeah, but they’re cool people.’”
A quick read through the middle chapters of the band’s biography Love That Dirty Water! reveals that not everyone shares Tamblyn’s “lipstick on a pig” recollections. But what’s certain is that lightning was captured in a bottle that day in Armin Steiner’s L.A. garage (yes, it was recorded in an actual garage) and that Boston loves the song as its own. Ultimately, “Dirty Water” made music history; it’s listed in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as one of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock & Roll.
In 2004, the Red Sox organization engineered a Standells reunion, and the group played it before Game 2 of the World Series. Steven Van Zandt’s Underground Garage satellite radio station plays lesser-known songs “Good Guys Don’t Wear White” and “Riot on the Sunset Strip” as well as “Dirty Water.” But most of the band’s shows have been one-offs — until now. 
The Standells’ stop at Dover Brickhouse on May 7 is part of their first major U.S. tour in more than 40 years. “We did a European tour in 2010 … and we’ve done some smaller ones,” said Tamblyn, “but this is the first … since the ‘60s.” 
Back in those days, the band was on the road constantly, including opening for the Rolling Stones at an infamous 1966 show in Lynn, Mass., that ended in a cloud of tear gas.
Though they’ve played “Dirty Water” for Fenway fans several times, a gig at Brighton Music Hall with local punk heroes Lyres opening will be the first full Standells concert ever held in Boston. 
“It’s really exciting to do, with the feedback from the city,” said Tamblyn. “We expect to have a big crowd there and have a lot of fun.”
Seacoast power pop band and fellow Underground Garage favorites The Connection will share the bill at the  Dover show, and have worked hard to promote it. 
“They have really been great  …they appreciate us,” said Tamblyn. “We did inspire a lot of people. The Ramones, the Sex Pistols and the Clash liked our raw sound, and even heavy metal groups such as Guns n’ Roses.”
One impetus for a full-scale tour is an album released last year. Called Bump, it’s the first new Standells record in 46 years, and includes “Boston’s Badass,” a new ode to the city. 
“We didn’t want to create some sappy sad song,” said Tamblyn. “This is really about the toughness and resilience there, and how those people just get back up on their feet.”
Similar to “Dirty Water,” the 10-song disc was made in a garage. 
“That really added to the creative juices that went into it … we built our own studio so we could recreate the ambiance. We did everything ourselves; we brought in no other musicians. I produced and engineered it, and I think it’s a damn good album.”  
As seen in the May 1, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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