Couldn't Get It Right

Album: Gold Plated (1976)
Charted: 10 3


  • This was the first big hit for the Climax Blues Band, who had been recording since 1968 and released eight previous albums. Derek Holt, who was the bass player and a vocalist in the band, spoke with Songfacts about "Couldn't Get It Right":

    "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 three 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 four 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."
  • Derek Holt told Songfacts how this came together: "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."
  • Fun Lovin' Criminals covered this on their 1999 album Mimosa. Stockholm Syndrome recorded it on their 2004 album Holy Happy Hour.

Comments: 8

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenSomehow, it's hard to picture Holiday Inn using this song in a commercial.
  • Tony from San DiegoYa know I agree with ya Birdman. I play drums and have always found this groove to be ultra-tight. The cowbell lulls u into the essence of the song.
  • Birdman_euston from London, UkThanks for the band's chart record, Barry, but for me, "Couldn't Get It Right" is a one-hit wonder from 1977 (I was working in the States at the time) with simply the best groove in pop history. It's currently (May '15) getting more airplay than ever on the retro rock stations here.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 13th 1977, "Couldn't Get It Right" by the Climax Blues Band entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #94; and thirteen weeks later on May 15th, 1977 it peaked at #3* {for 1 week} and spent 22 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1977 and 1981 the British quartet had four Top 100 records; their next biggest hit was "I Love You", it reached #12 {for 1 week} on June 14th, 1981 and stayed on the Top 100 for over a half-year {27 weeks}...
    * The week it was at #3; the #2 record was "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer and at #1 was "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder.
  • Luke from Auckland, New ZealandThe '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.
  • Wendell from Milton, PeWhen 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
  • Scott from Palm Desert, CaExcellent song from the 70's that has aged very well.
  • Mike from Denver, CoI 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!
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