by John Wenz
Better Beatles, meet your evil Nebraska twin, The Buggs. Where you filtered the works of McCartney and Lennon through a vaguely situationist lens, The Buggs viewed the same songs as the sign of the almighty American dollar, intended to be nothing if not chased. Inspired, meet uninspired.
So who the hell are The Buggs?
Well, if you trust their 1964 huxter album, The Beetle Beat, the foursome of unknowns are a band featuring that "original Liverpool sound" and coming recorded from England. The only problem is … the words they're not including.
For instance? Well, they weren't from England, and they didn't record a lick there, opting instead for the Liverpool-like Minneapolis. And they hailed originally from Omaha.
Like a bastard son of K-Tel comps, their album proclaimed, "England has invaded America! From the banks of the Mersey River, by Liverpool, England a new sound, a new beat, has gained tremendous popular acceptance. The Mersey Beat! The Liverpool Sound! Remember these names for a new trend in popular music has arrived. The year of Beetlemania (sic). The Mersey Beat features a strong guitar rhythm attack backed with a solid beat producing a driving, stomping, rock and rolling tempo. The Kings of the Mersey Beat to date are The Beatles, followed by Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas and Jerry And The Pacemakers. In this album you will hear the original Liverpool sound recorded on location in England by The Buggs, a fast moving, well paced group that we are sure you will like."
Every line of that is designed to do one thing: drag in the rubes, bring in the fools. The people in the frenzies of Beatlemania could have this little slice of methadone in their record shelf if they weren't paying close enough attention. The album itself doesn't have the budget to pull through with all Beatles covers, even. They resort to a couple stand bys — "She Loves You," featured above, and "I Want to Hold Your Hand," before veering into (shudder) original material, which tried to keep up appearances through such Part 15 AM classics as "Mercey Mercy" and "Liverpool Drag."
If you simply have to hear this album, you can find it here. And you know that, in the back of your mind, you will definitely need to.
John Wenz is the Echoes columnist for Hear Nebraska. He has never been in a Beatles cover-band, but he once thought he kind of had the weird riff from "Come Together" down. Turns out it was a horrible stomach virus. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.