Nuggets: Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) by The Hombres

Before he became Patti Smith’s lead guitarist, 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 1965 to 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 59/118: Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) by The Hombres
From: Memphis, Tennessee
Aphoristic Rating: 7/10

LET IT OUT (LET IT ALL HANG OUT) – The Hombres [2:03]
[First pressings were titled “Let It All Hang Out”]
(Bill Cunningham/John Hunter/Jerry Masters/Gary McEwen)
Personnel/BILLY “B.B.” CUNNINGHAM: vocals, organ * GARY McEWEN: guitar * JERRY LEE MASTERS: bass * JOHNNY HUNTER: drums
Produced by HUEY P. MEAUX for SHELBY SINGLETON PROD.
Recorded in Memphis, TN
Verve Forecast single #KF-5058 (8/67); Pop #12

The Hombres started out as the touring version of the Daytonas. The Daytonas had enjoyed a #4 hit with ‘G.T.O.’, a Beach Boys clone, but sent a phantom band out on the road to capitalise on their success.

The Hombres had worked up an original song, ‘Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)’. It took them a year to convince someone to produce and release it, but it became a #12 hit. The riff is suspiciously like ‘Gloria’, while Billy Cunningham delivers a Southern Dylan impersonation, inspired by ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’. The opening line – “A preachment, dear friends, you are about to receive on John Barleycorn, nicotine and the temptations of Eve” – is iconic, taken from the 1947 novelty hit ‘Cigareetes, Whuskey and Wild, Wild Women’ by Red Ingle and His Natural Seven.

The Hombres never enjoyed another hit. Followup single ‘Am I High (Boy Am I High)’ bombed, and their sole album sank without a trace. The band broke up in 1969. Shockingly, two members of The Hombres died by gunshot – vocalist B.B. Cunningham was killed in 2012 while working as a security guard.

‘Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)’ featured in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown, while it’s been covered by John Cougar Mellencamp and Jonathan King.

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16 Comments

  1. It does seem they were a bit inspired by “Gloria” and Dylan. That said, it’s not a bad tune. Even though I really like John Mellencamp and know a good deal of his songs, I didn’t remember his cover of “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)”, even though I have the “Big Daddy” album on CD!

  2. This is another essential Nugget for me. Not 10 out of 10 but maybe 9 out of 10. The music is just so catchy and wonderful, even though I hate that kind of smug hippie humor. But I love the whole thing anyway.

  3. What are the odds that two members were shot? I never connected with this song…it always annoyed me for some reason. I have nothing against it…it’s just a little campy.

  4. One of those songs (96 Tears etc) that I would stumble across when listening to the radio as a young CB. Things werent as accessible so Id have to wait until I heard it again to enjoy it. Years later listening to my new Mellencamp purchase he tags this on with no credit. Loved it. Max and I are rarely on different pages. This is one of those times.

      • A bit of the mystique has been taken out of things today. When I first heard Springsteen on an old tv/stereo radio I called the FM radio station (after several tries), got a hold of a sleepy or stoned dj and got the name of that “Van Morrison like guy you played a while ago”

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