The Feelies' "Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)" single.
The Feelies were formed in Haledon, New Jersey in 1976 when Glenn Mercer (guitars, vocals), Bill Million (guitars, vocals, keyboards), Dave Weckerman (percussion), and Richard Reilly (vocals) began playing together in a band called the Outkids. The Outkids evolved into the Feelies with the departure of Reilly and the addition of Vinny DeNunzio (drums) and John J. (bass). The revamped group quickly created a buzz throughout the New York City new wave circuit, with the Village Voice dubbing them “The Best Underground Band in New York”. Anton Fier replaced Vinny DeNunzio in 1978, and Keith DeNunzio (Vinny DeNunzio’s brother) replaced John J. in 1979. This lineup of Mercer, Million, Keith DeNunzio and Fier released their debut single, “Fa Cé-La”, on Rough Trade Records (an independent British label) in 1979. The band’s refusal to work with outside producers jeopardized their immediate hopes for a major label deal, and as a result their debut album, “Crazy Rhythms” was released on another independent British label, Stiff Records in April 1980. The debut single from “Crazy Rhythms” was “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)” b/w “Original Love”, released in February 1980. This is today’s featured single.
“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)” is a rambunctious cover version of The Beatles song from the White Album that rips along at an even faster pace than the original. At the same time, the percussion on the track (especially the drums) are very restrained, and as always, The Feelies bring their unique vocal style into the mix. Although The Feelies were usually categorized as a new wave band, this track exemplifies the eclecticism of the band, with their sound seemingly incorporating elements of different genres without being easily pigeonholed into any of them. This is one of the better songs from “Crazy Rhythm”, and a worthy choice for the debut single.
The B-side of the single, “Original Love”, is one of the original tracks from “Crazy Rhythms” (all the songs on the parent album, except for “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)” and a cover version of the Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black” were penned by Glenn Mercer and Bill Million). Nowhere near as raucous as the A-side, it has a somewhat mournful-sounding melody, to accompany lyrics about a relationship gone awry (“You said no commitment/When I asked you for a compromise/Just a compromise/Now I don’t know why I ask you/It’s always such a problem/Why make it a problem”). I liked the tremolo-like opening guitar chords, and the song proceeds along at a brisk pace, and the wailing background vocals were a nice touch. There is also a brief instrumental break about a minute and a half into the song (which lasts about thirty seconds). This is another good song by the band, and a nice counterpoint to the A-side.
The single (catalog #: BUY 65) was released on Stiff Records. Unusual for a Stiff Records BUY single, there was no picture sleeve; instead, a company sleeve was issued with it; the specially-designed label is shown above. Although “Crazy Rhythms” was a critical favorite, its lack of commercial success sat badly with Stiff, who began pressuring the band to release a hit single. Fier and DeNunzio left the band, and The Feelies were in limbo throughout much of the early 1980s. The band emerged from its hiatus with their second album, “The Good Earth” (1986), released in the U.S. on Coyote/Twin/Tone Records, which saw the original core of Mercer and Million augmented by new members Dave Weckerman (percussion), Brenda Sauter (bass) and Stan Demeski (drums). The band signed with A&M Records and released “Only Life” (1988); A&M also released their next album, “Time for a Witness” (1991). The band played their final gig at Maxwell’s in Hoboken on July 5, 1991. Subsequently, Bill Million moved to Florida without telling any of his bandmates or even leaving a forwarding address, marking the end of The Feelies after about fifteen years. The band reunited in 2008, and after several warm-up shows at Maxwell’s, they performed with Sonic Youth at Battery Park that year. A reunion album, “Here Before”, was released on April 12, 2011.