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Couldn't Get It Right


Climax Blues Band

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This was the first big hit for the Climax Blues Band, who had been recording since 1968 and released 8 previous albums. Derek Holt, who was the bass player and a vocalist in the band, spoke with us about this song:
"The song is about being on the road in America. 'Looking for a sign in the middle of the night' being about the old Holiday Inn signs, really, because the moment you saw the Holiday Inn sign, that meant you got a bed for the night. When we first started in America, we used to fly everywhere; sometimes we'd have 3 flights a day to get to any one place. The way the itinerary was sorted out, it was never very easy to get to anywhere, so consequently we used to arrive in the town, get into a car, just about make the sound check for the gig, do the gig, get back in the car, then look for a bed. Towards the latter sort of probably five years of the band's life, we started using tour buses, so you could sort of leave after the gig, get on the bus, get a bed, drive 1,000 miles or whatever, be at the next gig being quite refreshed. So that was a really nice way of traveling."
This song is a great example of the dual vocal technique The Climax Blues Band was known for. Holt explains: "Colin Cooper used to sing the lead - the low vocal, and I used to sing an octave higher. And then, because 4 of us sang in the band, we used to harmonize. The fact that we had the dual singing the same line but with an octave split made the sound very unique, and it's still very unique today. Whenever people use it I think it's great. That was one of our trademarks, we just used to sing together in unison."
Holt: "We did an album for RCA called Gold Plated, and the album was produced by an old legendary producer called Mike Vernon. We delivered the album to RCA. RCA heard the album, said, 'You know what, guys, there really isn't a hit single on it. So, could you go try and write a hit?' We went to our London studio, which belonged to George Martin, without Mike Vernon, the producer, and we had a couple of days in the studio and we came up with the song Couldn't Get It Right from absolutely nowhere. Just a question of sitting in the studio, sitting around, thinking of a great rhythm and putting the old sort of dual vocals on it, the octave low and high vocals, couple of hooks. And we turned up, and it became a hit. So nothing more than a lucky moment in time. It really annoyed the producer, who thought we were holding out on him with an extra song that we never told him about." (Thanks to Derek for speaking with us about this song)
Fun Lovin' Criminals covered this on their 1999 album Mimosa. Stockholm Syndrome recorded it on their 2004 album Holy Happy Hour.
Climax Blues Band
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Comments (4):

The 'chance' rediscovery of this gem from my teenage years has become my favourite 'oldie' at the moment (Apr/May '12). It has such a simple but catchy melody, with definite tones of 'laidback-ness'. Though many would pass it off as just another 'funky white-boy' offering (and that's not meant as a racial slur), it nevertheless has the polish and class of a 'Doobie-esque' number, for sure.
- luke, auckland, New Zealand
When I first heard this song it immediately became my favorite song at the time. I love you was a decent song but it isn't even close to Couldn't get it right.
Wendell Milton PEI
- wendell, milton, PE
Excellent song from the 70's that has aged very well.
- Scott, Palm Desert, CA
I love the attitude in this song--the way the verses are sung fits the mood and lyrics of the song perfectly. Listening to this always makes me wish I could go back to the 70s and experience the nightlife of the era as a young man. I always wondered what the 'sign' they were looking for was, and I always thought it was a sign on the path of life that they looked for--something to give it meaning or show the way. Great song!
- Mike, Denver, CO
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