Versions: ‘She’s my witch’ Kip Tyler (Ebb, 1958)

Following the contemporary tic of mentioning who or what brought a listener to a particular piece of music, for many this comes with a nice kind of provenance (to slightly misuse a word) – of that great rangy showman, Lux Interior of The Cramps.  

(Memory of one of my first live music experiences seeing The Cramps do their thing in a long-gone venue; all velvet curtains, with tassels, as Lux rattled and rolled on the stage and Ivy never smiled).

The recording of this track is so modern, so clean. Like this description of Kip Tyler – one of the key members of the 50s Californian rockabilly scene: Kip Tyler (May 31, 1929 - September 23, 1996) was an American rock and roll singer and bongo player.

And then later similarly from wik:

‘Tyler took on the name of Jimmy Daley (the main character of the movie who he provided a voice over for) and formed the band Jimmy Daley And The Ding-A-Lings.’

(The Ding-A-Lings? These guys were doing it deadpan in that era, though, never for a laugh. Such detail always appeals to me, similarly this very serious comment from an appreciation  of the artist:   

There are rumours that Tyler in 1962 recorded the single “Drum Twist 1 & 2” (Torchlight #501) under the name of Kipper & The Exciters but we have been unable to conclusively prove this. Similarly, it remains to be established the “Target Twist/Stompin” released under the name of Kippster was Kip Tyler.

‘There are rumours …’ Sounds like something from The Pixies).

This tune, this paean to a ‘chick with a wicked twitch’ has been covered numerous times, with each rendition tending to stay close to the original – with a few exceptions. My favourites among them, this super-delicate version from the Voodoo Sharks, with the stagey almost-spoken delivery (note the great B&W archival and other footage in the video). 

The most popular in terms of views is by the UK-based psychobilly group, The Radiacs – sped up part, chilled, slow down towards the end, descending .. vocals sound as if they were recorded back in the distance.

Direct quotation: "The term "psychobilly" was first used in the lyrics to the country song "One Piece at a Time", written by Wayne Kemp for Johnny Cash, which was a Top 10 hit in the United States in 1976. The lyrics describe the construction of a "psychobilly Cadillac using stolen auto parts."

But the true keeper for me is by The Fuzztones, a group apparently ‘dismissed by some critics and listeners as a "bar band" or unoriginal, they maintained a strong fan base in New York, in Europe (with their music being played on Hungarian State Radio) … and in Los Angeles.’

It’s really lovely how they slow it down and purposefully under-play it.