Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Clique -- "Superman" (1969)

I know you don't love that guy 
'Cause I can see right through you

Superman has a lot of superpowers -- superhuman speed and strength, the ability to fly, and incredibly keen hearing and vision (to name just a few).  

Not only did he have the ability to see far-away objects (telescopic vision) and very small objects (microscopic vision), but he also had X-ray vision.

Superman using his X-ray vision
to check out Lois Lane
X-ray vision allowed Superman to see through most objects, but I'm not sure how it would have enabled him to know that a girl doesn't love some other guy.  But he's Superman, after all -- so maybe he's got some other superpower that allows him to "see right through" her and figure that out.

The Clique was a sixties pop band from Austin, Texas -- or maybe Beaumont.  (My sources disagree.)  Their debut recording was a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators song, "Splash 1."

From what I understand the Clique wasn't really the band that recorded their eponymous album, The Clique, in 1969.  The only original member of the group who contributed to that album was lead singer Randy Shaw.  

The brains behind the album was producer-songwriter Gary Zekley, who had a hand in quite a few bubblegum (also known as "sunshine pop") records.  I have a soft spot for that musical genre, which is ironic since I have a very strong aversion to bubblegum and chewing gum in general.  

Bubblegum music was largely the product of producers and studio musicians.  When a bubblegum record was successful, the record company usually had to put together a band to go on the road and perform the songs live -- there was no real group in the usual sense.

Gary Zekley
That's the case with The Clique, which features a number of songs written by Zekley and his collaborators and a number of covers.  The most successful of the covers are the Bee Gees' "Holiday" and "Sugar on Sunday," which was originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells.  

The Clique's version of "Sugar on Sunday" sounds almost exactly like the Tommy James and the Shondells version, which was included on the Crimson & Clover album but was never released as a single.   In fact, a lot of people thought the Clique's single was actually a Tommy James and the Shondells single.

The b-side of the Clique's "Sugar on Sunday" was "Superman," a song that was co-written by Gary Zekley.  "Superman" was made famous when R.E.M. recorded it in 1986.  

Michael Stipe was not enthusiastic about the song, so R.E.M. bass player Mike Mills sang lead vocals -- the first time he had done so for R.E.M.  (Shocker that the always-whiny Stipe was a big pain in the ass about "Superman."  That's not exactly a man-bites-dog story, is it?)

I can't imagine what Stipe's problem was -- this is an outstanding song.  The R.E.M. cover is pretty good, but the original version is great.

Michael Stipe: a big-ass
pain in the ass
R.E.M. released "Superman" as a single, and it was moderately successful.  Several months after its release, Gary Zekley joined R.E.M. on stage during a concert at Northern Illinois University to perform the song with them.  Ten years later, Zekley died at the age of 53.  

Here's the Clique's "Superman":

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