Sunday, December 7, 2014

Parts of Speech: Over, Under, Sideways, Down

Back when I worked at WWNR (1987-1994) in Beckley, West Virginia, the last hour of my Friday shift (9AM-10AM), I did a set of music that had some sort of common theme – much like I do every second week of the month here. During the month of December 2014, it is no different, as I am repeating one of my themes from that oldies’ show. This week’s set looks at parts of speech in song titles.

Today, we pick prepositions – well, more accurately – three prepositions and an adverb. The prepositions are “over,” “under,” and “down” – “sideways” is the lone adverb. One of my favorite groups of the 60s were The Yardbirds and one of their best known tunes is their Top 15 hit “Over, Under, Sideways, Down.” In the US, it charted at #13 in 1966.

The band, sans Jeff Beck, recorded the basic tracks of “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” with Keith Relf on lead vocals and harmonica, Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar and vocals, Jim McCarty on drums and vocals, and Paul Samwell-Smith on bass and vocals. The working arrangement with Beck was that the band would lay down the song and Beck would then work his magic. What resulted was not expected by the band.

Although they were initially skeptical of Beck’s high energy eastern influenced leads, they added a new dimension to the song. Part of the lead’s charm was its tonality. At the time, Beck achieved his signature sound by using a fuzz tone and feedback. Additionally, he overdubbed a bass part to give the song greater drive. Apparently the changes were acceptable to bassist Samwell-Smith who also co-produced the record with Simon Napier-Bell.

In the US, the song was the title cut to their third studio album. In the UK, it appeared, however, on their only studio album – “The Yardbirds” commonly called “Roger the Engineer.” This nickname was based on Chris Dreja’s drawing of studio engineer Roger Cameron. The American release wisely steered away from the original artwork and used photos of the band that were edited to depict the title’s description. On the cover, Chris Dreja is “over,” Jim McCarty is “under,” Paul Samwell-Smith is “sideways,” while Keith Relf and Jeff Beck are both “down.”

The song was credited to all of The Yardbirds; however, on the American releases, Jim McCarty is incorrectly listed as “McCarthy” and Chris Dreja’s name was misspelled as “Drega.” You’ll see these errors on the single’s label.

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