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.