Obscure Bands And Great Songs: The Standells And Dirty Water

The Standells were the classic garage band.  Although their only hit was about living in Boston, the band was actually from Los Angeles.  They played for years — including playing themselves on an episode of The Munsters, oddly enough — but lightning struck only once, with the song Dirty Water.

The backstory about Dirty Water is interesting.  The song was not written by a member of the band, but by the band’s new producer.  As the band went to work on the song, it began to take shape.  The band’s guitarist, Tony Valentino, contributed the irresistible opening guitar lick, the singer, Dick Dodd, did some memorable improvising (“Ah, but they’re cool people.”), and the  echoey production values made it sound like the song was actually recorded in a garage.  It’s hard not to like the humor of the song; you get the impression that the songwriter really loves Boston, with all of its quirks and dangers.  It’s no surprise that the song is played after home victories by the Boston Red Sox and other Boston professional sports teams.

The Standells didn’t do much after Dirty Water, and broke up before the ’60s ended.  During their brief existence, however, they recorded a classic.

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