Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, Lenny Kaye compiled Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Released in 1972, the two-LP set covered American garage rock and psychedelia from the years 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 91: (Would I Still Be) Her Big Man by The Brigands
Release Date: 1966
From: New York City
The Brigands are one of the most obscure acts on Nuggets. They released a solitary single – ‘(Would I Still Be) Her Big Man’ was the b-side to ‘I’m A Patient Man’. There was no evidence of the band’s career such as press clippings or gig posters. This led to speculation that The Brigands weren’t an actual band but instead a temporary group of studio musicians. In 2002, however, an interview on the Forest Hills High School’s website gave some light to the group’s origins.
To Elliott Wertheim and John Hartmann, it wasn’t the numbers that mattered, however. They hadn’t seen each other in more than 30 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My goodness, man, unbelievable.
COOPER: Back in the 1960s, when Forest Hills gave birth to groups like Simon & Garfunkel and The Ramones, Wertheim and Hartmann had a band of their own, The Brigands. It was the era of The Beatles. Thousands of garage bands wanted to be just like the fab four. But unlike most of them, the Brigands actually got a one-shot deal with Epic Records. The A-side of The Brigands record, “I’m a Patient Man,” was pick hit of the week on one radio station in Eerie, Pennsylvania. But that was about it. And that for the Brigands was all they wrote, until… JOHN HARTMANN, LEAD SINGER, THE BRIGANDS: My son is a singer and actor, and he, through some connections in show business, found out that the record is actually being played across the United States.
COOPER: In fact, the B-side song on that 45, “Would I Still Be Her Big Man” was included on some major rock ‘n’ roll compilations, in the company of such groups as The Blues Magoos, The Kingsmen and the Strawberry Alarm Clock.
ELLIOT WERTHEIM, BASS GUITARIST, THE BRIGANDS: To find out that we’re on these compilation discs and that they view us as representative of a particular era, like the pyschadelic era, and to select us from what I have to believe are thousands of possibilities of groups besides the well-known groups to me is outrageous. I don’t even understand why or how it happened.
In fact, the discographies that mention The Brigands, like this one, for The Nuggets album, say — quote — “Other than a probably East Coast origin, nothing is known about The Brigands.”
HARTMANN: I just thought it was very cool out of all these cuts on these compilations, we were one of the few whose personnel was unknown. …..They postulated that we may be from Forest Hills or maybe from Ohio. I don’t know where they got that.
COOPER: Seeing each other after all these years was great. Finding out about the record made it even better.
WERTHEIM: We’re just happy really, in some way having been selected to be a piece of history.CNN, http://edition.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0204/26/ltm.06.html
Both sides of the single were written by Artie and Kris Resnick. Artie Resnick had already established himself as a writer, with the 1960s hits ‘Under The Boardwalk’ (The Drifters) and ‘Good Lovin” (The Rascals). He’d also go on to write ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy’ for the Ohio Express.
I don’t love the gritty lead vocals, but ‘(Would I Still Be) Her Big Man’ is an interesting concept for a song. A blue collar worker worries about his girlfriend finding out that he’s not as rich as she thinks he is. There’s a neat little key change too – the song goes up a semi-tone leading into the final verse. It probably deserved to become a minor hit and it was a good pick for the Nuggets set to include.