Nuggets: Why Pick On Me by The Standells

Before he became Patti Smith’s bass player, Lenny Kaye compiled the 2 album set, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years from 1965-1968, and was a major influence on punk rock. Rhino Records reissued an expanded version of the set in 1998, with 118 tracks in total. I’m profiling and rating each of these 118 tracks, working backwards.

Track 114: Why Pick On Me by The Standells
Release Date: 1966
From: Los Angeles, California
Aphoristical Rating: 6/10

The Standells are one of the better known acts on Nuggets, with three songs on the set. They’re also represented by their #11 hit ‘Dirty Water’, a song often played by Boston sporting teams because of its Boston references. ‘Don’t Pick On Me’ was taken from their second album, Why Pick On Me – Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White.

The Standells are led by Larry Tamblyn, whose brother Russ Tamblyn is a notable actor. Lead vocals were handled by drummer Dick Dodd. The group’s notable for several high profile musicians who were members before joining other bands – early drummer Gary Leeds would later join The Walker Brothers, Dewey Martin would briefly replace Dodd in 1965 before joining Buffalo Springfield, and Little Feat’s Lowell George was briefly a member in the late 1960s.

Like lots of Nuggets acts, it’s easy to draw comparisons to early Kinks and Rolling Stones. ‘Why Pick On Me’, also reminds me most of The Small Faces, and Tamblyn’s Vox Continental organ is an important component of the sound. The brief Vox Continental organ solo that comes in at around 1:07 is the song’s most memorable feature. ‘Why Pick On Me’ was written by producer Ed Cobb, who also wrote ‘Dirty Water’ as well as ‘Tainted Love’ (originally an obscure 1964 song before it was turned into a 1981 mega-hit by Soft Cell).

The Standells are still a going concern, although Tamblyn is the only 1960s-era member still in the band. They released four records in the 1960s, as well as Bump in 2013.

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35 comments

  1. I guess this song is kind of okay but it’s not another Dirty Water, that’s for sure . I really can’t think of any Garage Band that had more than one great one. A lot of people think that the Third Floor Elevators or Electric Prunes or Flaming Groovies even had great albums, but nothing really measured up to their big hits.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, the Electric Prunes had one or two pretty good follow-ups . Get Me to the World on Time and I Happen to Love You, a Carole King song strangely enough.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I knew I had heard of them before. This is a little more advanced than the previous ones…that organ is very edgy…it makes you feel like it’s going out at any time but he pulls it between the lines at the last minute.

    Most of the singers of that garage era have that Jagger and Morrison sound.

    I didn’t know that about Lowell George and Dewey Martin. That is a lot of talent in itself.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. He was a great musican…he also produced The Dead’s Shakedown Street album.

        I just took a peek at the Nuggets collection again. There are some bands coming I really like…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We’re going to hit a better known section of Nuggets shortly – The Monks, The Sonics, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and The Electric Prunes (plus Mr. Pharmacist, which I know from The Fall’s cover).

          Liked by 1 person

        2. The Gentrys also…they did a very good version of Cinnamon Girl…kind of pointless but a good one.

          I do like the unknowns as well…great collection. After thinking about it..the Jagger type lead vocals makes sense.
          Our band had a guy that copied him (and me)…I love the Beatles but those harmonies are damn hard for a garage band and the Stones/Kinks/Them type music is easier to copy.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I sound like Tom Petty with a head cold but yea…I love the harmonizing also. When I listen to this type of music a lot…everything else sounds over produced.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s something about that sound, that style, that groove that evokes enjoyment, no matter the tune. Isn’t it lovely to have something as solid as this be a lesser track for you, so far? I mean, an embarrassment of riches!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s just a cool idea, rounding up lots of also-rans. And it’s obviously a formative era for rock music -feels like a collection of tracks from 1985-1988 would be less interesting?

          Liked by 1 person

  4. The only song from them I’m familiar with is “Dirty Water”, which I’m old enough to remember when it was a hit. I really liked it, and also thought they sounded a lot like the Stones and the Kinks. I never knew their lead singer was the brother of Russ Tamblyn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of the Nuggets stuff sounds like the Stones and The Kinks really, a bit like “it tastes like chicken” – I think as I go, I’ll get better at describing the songs. Tamblyn wasn’t the lead singer, but he’s the only constant member.

      Like

      1. You haven’t got as far as any of the ones that aren’t in the Kinks/Stones mold yet. Like the Beatles-ish ones or the Tex-Mex ones. Or pop-rockish ones. And of course the famous Psychedellia type ones. There’s actually more variety as you get closer to the top of the tracklist. Most of my own favorites are those other kinds.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Top 10 Nuggets

    Psychotic Reaction – Count Five
    Little Girl – Syndicate of Sound
    Incense and Peppermints – Strawberry Alarm Clock
    Time Won’t Let Me – Outsiders
    Nobody But Me – Human Beinz
    Just Like Me – Paul Revere & Raiders
    Journey to the Center of Your Mind – Amboy Dukes
    Little Bit of Soul – The Music Explosion
    Blues Magoos – We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet
    Laugh Laugh – Beau Brummels

    (Bonus trax)
    Talk Talk – Music Machine
    The Hombres – Let it Out
    Wooly Bully – Sam the Sham
    Voices Green and Purple – The Bees
    She’s About a Mover – Sir Douglas
    Louie Louie – Kingsmen
    Too Much to Dream – Electric Prunes
    Liar Liar – Castaways
    Dirty Water – Standells

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I used to have the original Nuggets compilation and I listened to it feverishly – amazing psychedelic jams on those CDs! I think, ultimately, I had even more fun with the British Invasion set, because I’m a Swinging London obsessive! I had no idea Russ Tamblyn was the brother of one of the Standells, though – I mostly just associate him with West Side Story and Twin Peaks (and he wasn’t the only West Side Story alumnus in that show!).

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like this one a lot. From the descending ‘Kinksian’ opening to the ascending Ahhs in the chorus, it really inventive in a fairly basic sub-genre. Sure, much is derivative, but the whole thing is totally original. And what’s that piping sound? A theramin? Top note on a Farissa? 8 ½ / 10

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Derivative isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All that really matters is the end result. How did the record turn out? is really the only question. I’d rather hear a great record that’s unoriginal than a crummy record that’s original. Just because something’s new and original doesn’t mean its any good. Usually a derivative unoriginal record is more likely to be good. That’s just the way it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely think you (and Max from PowerPop blog) are correct that this song is a lot more accomplished and sophisticated than most of the Nuggets stuff, it just doesn’t do it for me as much of the others have so far.

      Liked by 1 person

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