Baby, Please Don’t Go by The Amboy Dukes

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 19: Baby Please Don’t Go by The Amboy Dukes
Release Date: 1967 or 1968?
From: Chicago, Illinois, later based in Detroit, Michigan
Rating: 9/10

BABY PLEASE DON’T GO – The Amboy Dukes [2:35]
(Joe Williams)
Personnel/JOHN DRAKE: vocals * TED NUGENT: lead guitar * STEVE FARMER: guitar * RICK LOBER: organ * BILL WHITE: bass * DAVE PALMER: drums
Produced by BOB SHAD
Recorded in Detroit, MI
Mainstream single #676 (1/68); Pop #106

The Amboy Dukes were led by Ted Nugent, who took the band name from a novel by Irving Shulman. Nugent started his career at ten. He was The Amboy Dukes’ only constant member.

They recorded the blues standard ‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ on their debut album. The song’s origins are unclear – it may be a traditional blues – but it was first recorded by Big Joe Williams in 1935.

‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ was recorded by artists like John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters as well. Them’s 1964 version popularised it for a new generation, and it’s also been covered by Aerosmith and AC/DC.

The Amboy Dukes’ version is also excellent. The song’s good but most notable as a platform for Nugent’s guitar pyrotechnics. He’s influenced by Hendrix, throwing in a reference to ‘Third Stone from the Sun’.

The group’s career faltered, losing key members and they eventually morphed into Nugent’s backing band. Nugent is best known for his 1977 hit ‘Cat Scratch Fever’. Vocalist John Drake and guitarist Steve Farmer both passed away in the last couple of years, but Nugent survived a bout of Coronavirus.

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10 Comments

  1. It’s a good version…it has some good dynamics and is powerful…but to me Them will always be the definitive version for me. I never cared for Nugent much but he is a good guitar player. They were more subtle in this than I would have thought.

    • I hadn’t heard it before either. Kind of does enough to breathe some new life into it. I barely know Nugent’s music, but you can hear why he was one of the few on Nuggets to break through into a music career beyond a garage band.

  2. Definitely a respectable version, although I agree with BF, the Them version seems like the authoritative one for me, too. Kind of odd given the song’s history, but the great majority of the times I’ve heard it it’s been that version. For whatever reason, I love songs like this. There’s something mysterious and compelling about it that comes from its simplicity. I remember listening to this as a child and being drawn in…what is this guy singing about? What’s all that “be a dog” business about? Great song for childhood musings.

    • Van Morrison is totally a cut above in charisma and vocal prowess than the Amboy Dukes. Makes sense that it’s the best known rock-era version.

      I don’t think I heard it when I was young.

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Aphoristic Album Reviews is almost entirely written by one person. It features album reviews and blog posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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Graham Fyfe has been writing this website since his late teens. Now in his forties, he's been obsessively listening to albums for years. He works as a web editor and plays the piano.

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