Friday, April 25, 2014

Detroit Cobras -- "Shout Bama Lama" (2001)

Lord have mercy on my soul
How many chickens have I stole?
One last night and the night before
I'm going back and try to get 
Ten or 'leven more . . .
I love a chicken, baby!

Amen to that, brothers and sisters -- I, too, love a chicken!

Today my go-to chicken comes from Crisp & Juicy, a local carry-out that serves fabulous Peruvian-style rotisserie chicken cooked in ovens fueled by charcoal.  

Crisp & Juicy chicken
A nice leg quarter of Crisp & Juicy chicken with some black beans and rice is hard to beat, boys and girls.  

But back in the day, my #1 seed for chicken was Chicken Annie's . . . or Chicken Mary's.  I could never really tell the difference, which will no doubt shock my high school friends -- I think most locals strongly favor one or the other.

Chicken Annie's and Chicken Mary's are large fried-chicken restaurants located directly across the road from one another out in the middle of nowhere.  (The mailing address for both restaurants is Pittsburg, Kansas, but the only building that's visible from Chicken Mary's is Chicken Annie's, and vice versa.)

Both restaurants were started by women whose coal-miner husbands became physically unable to continue working in the mines.  Chicken Annie's is the older of the two -- it was opened by Annie Pichler in 1934.  Mary Zerngast opened Chicken Mary's about a decade later.

Let's take a close look at Chicken Annie's menu.  (Chicken Mary's is similar.)

You can get one-, two-, three-, and four-piece dark-meat dinners, or dinners with one, two, three, or four chicken breasts.  If you can't decide between white and dark meat, you can get two-, three-, four-, and five-piece mixed dinners.

You can also get dinners featuring three, four, or six wings, and four or six backs.  

No part of the chicken goes unused: the menu offers chicken livers, gizzards, and hearts.  (My son Nick and are partial to chicken hearts, and we always get a side order of hearts to accompany our chicken dinners.)

Dinners are served with two side orders.  You can get everything from French fries to a baked potato to applesauce to cottage cheese to spaghetti.

But I pity the fool who isn't smart enough to opt for a double order of German-style potato salad -- which is wonderfully oily, vinegary, and garlicky.

In 1982, food writer Calvin Trillin wrote a long piece about Chicken Annie's and Chicken Mary's for the New Yorker.   I was stunned, then thrilled when I saw that article -- I would never have dreamed that the famed New Yorker would take notice of the two restaurants.

More recently, the Travel Channel visited Pittsburg and taste-tested both restaurants' fried chicken.  NBC news anchor Brian Williams -- who got his start at the local NBC affiliate -- was featured in that show.

Click here to read more about Annie's, Mary's, and some other local fried-chicken joints. 

By the way, all those restaurants serve bread from Frontenac Bakery, a small local bakery that was started by a coal miner who was injured on the job and had to find another way to make a living.  Click here to read more about Frontenac Bakery.

"Shout Bama Lama" is one of the tracks on Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit, a compilation album that was produced in 2001 by Jack White of the White Stripes.  Click here to read about another song featured on that album.  

The Detroit Cobras, one of the dozen-odd Detroit garage/punk bands whose music is featured on that album, specialize in doing covers of R&B records from the fifties and sixties.

The Detroit Cobras
Believe it or not, there's a blog that focuses on Detroit Cobras covers.  Here's what the author of that blog had to say about hearing "Shout Bamalama" for the first time while driving in his pickup one day:

WHOA -- What the f*ck was that?

So I played it again. WOW!

By this point I am home in my driveway, listening for the 5th time before one of my sons come out to leave -- spots me in my truck -- I invite him in to have a listen with me -- he tells me it's great (to appease me) and leaves.  Kids don't know sh*t about about music anyways.

Damn straight.

"Shout Bamalama" was Otis Redding's second single.  It was released in 1960 on the Confederate Records label.  (My, how times have changed.)

Here's Otis Redding's version of "Shout Bamalama":

Here's the Detroit Cobras cover of the song:

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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