Southern Culture on the Skids/Shirley Ellis: “Nitty Gritty”
In the great bathroom stall of rock music, someone has surely scrawled out the words: “For a good time, call S.C.o.t.S.” That’s because, for pure fun and lack of pretense, few bands can beat Southern Culture on the Skids. Aside from having one of the best band names in all of rock, for 20 years they’ve toured the U.S. from coast to coast, working nonstop to bring the party to folks all over, and have released 10 albums of “liquored up and lacquered down,” deep-fried, white-trashin’, good-timin’ music in the process.
I was first introduced to them in the mid-’90s by my friend Judy (“Zwo”), who as luck would have it happened to come to visit from out of town on the very same weekend that Southern Culture on the Skids was playing at the Middle East in Cambridge, in support, I believe, of their 1995 album, Dirt Track Date. Judy said, “C’mon, we’ve got to go see them…these guys are loads of fun!” (Well, something along those lines, anyway; I think you get the gist of her proclamation.) And never were truer words said! (Other than, maybe, “The Earth is round,” or “Newt Gingrich is a slimebag.”) It was love at first listen — and sight, since it was as much fun to watch them play as it was to hear it. Rick Miller, Mary Huff, and Dave Hartman (they’ve since become a foursome) clearly were having at least as good a time as the audience.
Rick Miller has written many great originals for S.C.o.t.S., but one of the high points on Dirt Track Date is their cover of Shirley Ellis’s 1964 hit, “The Nitty Gritty.” (Ellis was also the singer behind the well-known “Name Game”: the “Shirley Shirley, bo-birley, banana bana bo-birley, fee fi mo mirley, Shirley!” song.) Featuring Mary Huff on vocals, the “Nitty Gritty” cover is a sure-fire way to get people on their feet if you find your party lagging. Follow it up immediately with Southern Culture’s own “8 Piece Box” (same CD, next song) and you won’t have trouble with people not dancing, you’ll just have trouble getting people to leave your party — we’re talking THAT much fun. Really. No joke.