In the ’50s and early ’60s, rock ‘n roll was simple and, well, fun. The songs were about things like cars, or finding the right girl, or some new dance. The weighty, political issues of the day were reserved for the folk singers, with their heartfelt lyrics about social injustice, their severe black clothing, and their ultra-serious attitudes about everything. At some point in the mid-’60s, with the Vietnam War, civil rights, and street protests dominating the news, politics invaded rock ‘n roll, and the innocence of the music was never quite the same again.
The song Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs epitomizes the early days of rock ‘n roll. It’s a song about nothing, and the music could not be more basic. A repeated series of chords on a synthesizer, a basic rhythm guitar backing, a saxophone solo, and a bunch of dancing guys shouting out the mindless lyrics. Put them all together, and you have one of the most infectious rock ‘n roll dance songs ever recorded.
The YouTube video of the song, below, is classic because it is live and shows some musicians who are having fun, not taking their performance too seriously, and enjoying their moment of fame. And how about the politically incorrect band members, with Sam in his cheap, costume shop turban and the “Pharoahs” mysteriously clad, not like ancient Egyptian rulers, but rather like Bedouins?