The Outsiders – Happening “Live!”

ImageHow about some “live” music? The Outsiders’ first and only “live” album (not counting the brief 30-year reunion), Happening “Live!” was released in 1967 by Capitol Records. I put “live” in quotes because this is on of those fake live albums that were popular with garage bands in the mid-60s (see The Standells review below). All of the songs are actually alternate studio takes of previously released material with fake crowd noises dubbed in. I’m not sure if anyone actually believed that this was really a live album even when it was first released, because the crowd noises are obviously unnatural and jarring. Actually, I’m really not sure what the point of releasing such an album is at all other than to make a few more bucks. This album’s intentional deceptiveness is perhaps my only complaint with it. Although the band would disband shortly after the album’s release, Happening “Live!” might be my favorite Outsiders’ album. In composition, it is like a greatest hits album without all of the cheesy greatest hits feel. Of course, the opening track is the band’s one and only major hit “Time Won’t Let Me.” This song is catchy and fun and can still be heard on most Oldies stations today. The albums also contains the follow-up minor hit, “Girl in Love.” This song is much slower, softer, and less catchy. It’s more like something that gets played at a high school dance rather than on the radio. It’s okay for what it is. The Outsiders also were well-known for covering Motown songs and soul music from the African American community. Their version of The Temptations “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” is excellent. I think I prefer it to the original; it’s actually pretty similar, but this version has an extra garage style kick. The band also covers Joe Tex’s “Show Me” and The Isley Brothers’ “Respectable.” “Show Me” is a good demonstration of The Outsiders’ guitar work. The Outsiders also show their love of soul by covering “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round” and James Brown’s “Good Lovin.'” “Good Lovin'” is an extremely good rendition. It carries all the power and soul that James Brown laid down and adds a sprinkling of raw rock. The Outsiders also cover some more mainstream 60s rock songs like The Beatles’ “Michelle,” The Animals’ “Help Me Girl,” and Cavaliere’s “Come On Up.” The stand out hit of the three is “Come On Up.” This song is faster and more powerful than anything else on the album. It is actually reminiscent of early punk rock bands like The Stooges. My personal favorite song of the album is the cover of Them’s “Gloria.” I’ve never heard a version of this song I didn’t like; however, this version has even stronger vocals than most. Overall this album is extremely solid. The musicianship and song choice is superb. The only drawbacks are its structural flaws. Like I stated before, I don’t like the fake live record format. In addition, I wish that The Outsiders would have included more original songs. I know that covering songs was extremely common in this era, but I feel like there could have been a better balance. Nonetheless, if your just looking to listen to  great music, this album has it.  B

 

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