Thursday, December 08, 2005

Fee, fee, fi, fi, fo-fo, fum

One of the most incredible three-and-a-half-minute sonic blasts of all time is "Devil With A Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly" by Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. From the opening pulse of the piano and bass drum to the screaming fadeout, it's just pure rock and roll heaven. I can't get enough of it, even all these years later.

That's why it drives me nuts every time an oldies station plays the edited album version, which means it drives me nuts every time I hear it on the radio.

For reasons I have never been able to fathom, New Voice Records snipped the first two lines off the final verse from the single when it produced Ryder's "Breakout!!!" album. As originally released, the song rocks into a searing guitar solo that climaxes the "Good Golly Miss Molly" segment of the medley, and with an awesome rock scream, Ryder downshifts back into the first verse of "Devil":

Fee, fee, fi, fi, fo-fo, fum
Look-a once-again now, here she comes
Wearin her wig hat and shades to match
Gotta high-heel shoes and an alligator hat
Wearin her pearls and her diamond rings
Got bracelets on her fingers, now, and everything
Devil with the blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,
She's a devil with the blue dress on ...

At least that's what happens on the original mono single, which I sold during a dry time about 20 years ago. Over the years I kept hearing it on oldies stations in truncated form - jumping like a broken record from the scream to "Wearin her pearls ..." and discovered the hard way that that version is the one that you get when you buy it in oldies collections. I learned the horrific truth when I bought an original vinyl copy of "Breakout!!!" - the original company mutilated the song for the album! Putting extended versions of songs on the album happens all the time; this is the only example I can think of where someone cut and spliced for the album.

The story has a happy ending; before I sold my pile of 45s, I recorded most of them on a reel-to-reel tape, and this week I finally got around to dubbing them onto a CD. The bad news is that in the earphones you can hear the deterioration of the tape; the good news is when you blast the song through the woofers, you don't notice a thing. I have retrieved one of my favorite rock 'n' roll classics from the memory hole. Life, for three-and-a-half minutes at a time, is good.


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