The Coasters – Down Home Girl


The Coasters


Listen – The Coasters – Down Home Girl – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m a little tired (the stay at home dad thing is not an occupation conducive to piling up a surplus of sleep), but happy that spring appears to be here in both the de jure and de facto senses. Of course that means it’s time to get the mower tuned up and the rake out of the shed so that the perimeter is once again presentable (I believe the old phrase my Pop used to use was “Police the area!”), balancing the joy of breathing fresh Spring air with the pain associated with manual labor (and of course pollen….oh the humanity!?!?).
That said, tapping away at the laptop, so that the blogging might continue requires almost no (physical) labor at all.
What better way to get things going than with a very groovy cover of one of my all time favorite records ‘Down Home Girl’.
First waxed in 1964 by the mighty Alvin Robinson for the Red Bird label (one of my all time fave records), ‘Down Home Girl’ was written by Jerry Lieber and Art Butler. In it’s original form (produced by Lieber and Mike Stoller and arranged by Joe Jones) it is one of the grittiest pieces of New Orleans-associated soul ever to hit wax.
The following year, the Rolling Stones, knowing a good thing when it crawled into their ears, recorded a version of their own.
The version I bring you today see’s Lieber and Stoller taking the song out for a stroll once again, with one of their favorite groups, the legendary Coasters. By 1966, when the group went into the studio with L&S (Stoller producing) they were a few years past their last big hit (‘Little Egypt’ hit the Top 40 in 1961).
The 45 that ‘Down Home Girl’ appeared on – bearing the extremely cool ‘Soul Pad’ (possibly the greatest/only soul song to namecheck Thelonious Monk) on the flipside really should have been a hit. It’s possible that the audience of 1966/67, newly attuned to all things far out may have associated the Coasters name with a bygone era of good time-y rock and roll, but like their contemporaries the Platters, they were clearly up to the task of making era-appropriate sounds.
The Coasters version of ‘Down Home Girl’ – taken at a slightly more deliberate pace than Robinson – opens with a horn/drums/vibes riff that is verily begging to be looped by some enterprising producer, and features some classic group harmony. Much of the humor associated with the Coasters is there, though it gets delivered not via the performance itself, but rather through Lieber’s hyperbolic lyrics. Where Robinson’s reading of the song is dripping with unbridled lust (thanks in large part to his awesome, soulful growl) the Coasters vocal arrangement, with tenor and bass trading lines allows them to highlight the absurdity of some of the lines.
It really is a lost classic, and one of the finer versions of a truly great song.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Friday.



PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for your 60s pop fix.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

15 Responses to “The Coasters – Down Home Girl”

  1. ana_b Says:

    Such a cool record, i love that the groove starts even slower than the Alvin Robinson’s version …and then ramps up to speed..

    The last copy i saw was going for around $40…makes me wish i didn’t have a hard limit that’s quite a bit lower than $40…

    Many thanks for the copy, it’s timely…i was getting fairly po’ed that my only copy up till now had one of those ghastly digital skips…*hits delete*

    Not to nit pick, but you fail to mention that lyrics on the two versions are quite different, with completely different lyrics after the first verse….

    To my mind, it’s not entirely Robinson’s ‘take’ on the song which makes his version more lustful… some degree, it’s the different lyrics…

    On the Coasters version they primarily point up that the girl is pretending to something she ain’t….while Robinson’s lyrics are about how she’s driving him wild…”everytime you move like that, i got to go to sunday mass”…

    I find it fascinating that Leiber and Stoller would alter the lyrics this much…even including a reference to New Orleans on Robinson’s version…

    thanks again, i’ve played the song about six times a row now..


  2. ana_b Says:

    oops…beyond adding an ‘in’ and a ‘be’, substituting the word ‘copy’ for ‘download’, and reminding myself to check what i type more thoroughly before it hit the post button…i’d like to add that i do know the song was co-written by Butler…not Stoller…

  3. funky16corners Says:

    Stoller actually worked on both versions – even if he didn’t help compose the song – and the Alvin Robinson version was recorded in New Orleans.
    Lieber and Stoller are huge faves of mine, and I wish I could interview them about this specific song, i.e. did their long history with the Coasters push them toward “customizing” the song to give it a different feel. I’d also like to do a survey to see how many of the numerous cover versions hew to the Robinson version, and if any follow the Coasters template.

  4. Gnac Says:

    hello, maybe this is not the place to ask for exchange link, sorry for this, if you want to do it, expect news, thanks, sorry for the translation

  5. TJO Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for posting this and to let you the intro *was* sampled- in 92 by hip hop producer extraordinaire Pete Rock for the song Skinz (where I first heard it) and then again by the Trackmasters for the Chubb Rock song Yabba Dabba Doo. Wouldn’t be surprised if it has been used since. It really is a great groove.

  6. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks TJO!

  7. ana_b Says:

    It’s interesting that you should mention covers, because i was interested in the same question myself, and so checked my own library last night..

    Of the four covers i own, including the version by the Stones, all use the lyrics from the Alvin Robinson version..

    Don’t know what that means exactly…is that the version everyone heard first?…or was it the version which sounded sexier/tougher?…

    Geeze, now i’m going to have to collect covers of this song too?…

  8. Margaret Summers Says:

    Could you post the Alvin Robinson version, and also the flip side of this Coasters 45, “Soul Pad”? I’m sure I’m not the only one of your fans who’d love to hear them. Thanks!

  9. funky16corners Says:

    Y’know, I was going to send you over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive, and then I realized that for some insane reason I’ve never posted Alvin Robinson’s OG of ‘Down Home Girl’. The next time I’m recording 45s I’ll make sure I pull that one out (and the Coasters flip side).

    The Alvin Robinson version is the original, i.e. the one everyone heard first.

  10. Dan Says:

    Larry. a bit late for da pawty as usual; but I had to let you know that this version of “Down Home Girl” has more New Orleans connections than you may have realized. I was doing some research on the song a few years ago and found a Coasters’ fan site on the web that includes the session info on virtually all of their recordings. For this song, legendary New Orleans drummer (long a part of the NYC scene) Charles ‘Honeyman’ Otis laid down the groove; and that’s none other than James Booker on the piano! The only other NOLA name I recognized was Melvin Lastie, one of the trumpet players. The session was cut November 12, 1966 in New York City at A&R Studios with Phil Ramone as engineer. An impressive crew and interesting take, altered verses and all.

  11. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks for that info. Booker!?!? How cool is that? Though I know Booker lived in NYC for a while, the other guys make me wonder if L&S were bringing guys in from NOLA.

  12. Michael McNamara Says:

    I love this track. I’m a bit of a rookie, so my first exposure to the song was the wild take of it on ” Greasy” (Norton Records, 1996) by Andre Williams With The El Dorados — probably the best produced and, well, “greasiest” of Andre’s comeback efforts. Highly recommended for “Down Home Girl”, “Daddy Rolling Stone” “Jail Bait” and the magnificent “Put a Chain On It”.

  13. Michael D Miller Says:

    I’ve had the Coasters greatest hits album for over 20 years. I wore out two cassettes before buying it on CD. I love every song on it. This one has always been one of my favorites, along with Soul Pad.

    Where can I find the lyrics for this version of Down Home Girl? All my attempts so far have led me to the altered (and not as good) version that the Stones did, and I really want the lyrics to this one.

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