Defend the Indefensible: Gary Puckett and the Union Gap

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The weird Civil War motif. The earnest ballads about infidelity and pedophilia. The overwrought production. The baritone crooning. The altogether god-awfulness and willful squareness for what was, after all, the late 1960s. And yet, when "Woman, Woman" comes on the radio, I find it hard to turn off. What say you all?

Phil Dennison (Phil D.), Sunday, 17 October 2004 14:27 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I love Gary Puckett.

Atnevon (Atnevon), Sunday, 17 October 2004 15:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"young girl" rules

reo, Sunday, 17 October 2004 16:35 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Gary invented the "deflowering song," later pursued by artists ranging from Bobby Goldsboro to Boomer Castleman to Neil Diamond to the Neon Philharmonic.

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Sunday, 17 October 2004 20:03 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Never heard anything but "Young Girl", which was hardly a highlight of late 60s mainstream pop

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Sunday, 17 October 2004 21:45 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

this is a great moment of near synchronicity as i was just at work yesterday and GP&UG came on the oldies station which ignited a sort of "wtf, is this guy a fucking pederast?" conversation with a female co-worker. we both agreed while he kinda rocks, his lyrics are really icky.

j.m. lockery (j.m. lockery), Monday, 18 October 2004 00:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

oops, i meant pedophile, though i wouldn't put anything past gary. also i just remembered hearing on one of the 'best show on wfmu'episodes where it was decided that gary puckett is the grossest musician ever. even over gg allin.

j.m. lockery (j.m. lockery), Monday, 18 October 2004 00:05 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I have to defend Gary, though, by saying that "Over You" (the only one of his hits without the creepycurrent) is well song and has a beautifully orchestrated arrangement. Listening to that and the Sundowners' "Always You" back to back is always a treat.

Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Monday, 18 October 2004 01:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Also, isn't he basically just trying to *get rid* of the young girl? That song ain't especially lustful, just a bit full of itself, maybe. Easily outranked in the creepyness stakes by Billy J. Kramer's "Little Children", which goes on for the longest time before he reveals that all he actually wants is the kid's sister.

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Monday, 18 October 2004 08:05 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I'm embarrassed that I know this but Union Gap are actually still going (I think there are 2 members of the current line-up who actually played on "Young Girl") - my gf's inexplicably keen on them and has seen them a completely and utterly indefensible number of times....

I gather (and believe me I have tried my best not to pay attention when having this story recounted to me innumerable times in the past, as I never thought anyone would ever be even remotely interested - but some of it must have seeped into my subconscious by some form a osmosis) that there's a lot of bad blood between Mr Puckett and "The Gap" (as my gf and probably both of their other loyal fans are wont to call them).

Allegedly, although Union Gap had been an established gigging band on the UK circuit in their own right for some time before Mr Puckett came over and adopted them as his backing band, he has subsequently claimed the right to the name for himself and has taken all sorts of legal action to try to prevent them from using the name "Union Gap".

Fascinating stuff, eh?

Almost as exciting as seeing them live.

Union Gap

Coming soon to a cabaret club, cruise ship or as part of a 60's nostalgia weekend at a holiday camp near you

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Monday, 18 October 2004 09:53 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

'young girl' has incredibly paedy lyric. why should the girl run away, when it's gary puckett who needs his balls cutting off and some counseling...

... my dad played this song all the time, and the highlight of his pathetic life was singing it on stage at a Butlins holiday camp in front of 500 demented souls!

... ha! think you know pain!

jason_kkkkkkkkkk, Monday, 18 October 2004 11:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Speaking of pedophilia, I guess Neil Sedaka's "Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen" absolutely needs to be mentioned. I mean, the song is about how he has been lusting this girl ever since she was just a little kid, and now she is finally "legal".

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Monday, 18 October 2004 11:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"happy birthday sweet sixteen" was the "pretty in pink" of the new frontier era

cinniblount (James Blount), Monday, 18 October 2004 12:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink


Joseph McCombs (Joseph McCombs), Monday, 18 October 2004 12:44 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Lady Willpower" is classic cheeze. My mother loves it.

"Let's Give Adam & Eve Another Chance" was also notable for its ridiculous lyrics.

Michael F Gill (Michael F Gill), Monday, 18 October 2004 12:51 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

(So "Lady Willpower" was his? How 'bout that: Now I can name twice as many Union Gap songs as I could 2 minutes ago!)

Gary Puckett: Nowhere near as great as Paul Revere & The Raiders, their chief competitors within the genre of Mid-'60s-Bands-signed-to-Columbia-that-dressed-up-in-USA-historical-period-costumes. But at least they were better than the Grass Roots, with whom I've often confused them, for some reason. I think Puckett sang like David Clayton-Thomas or the guy from Iron Butterfly, if memory serves.

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Monday, 18 October 2004 13:44 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

"young girl" is kinda hardwired into my brain, and has been since very, very early youth. when i first heard it, it instantly conjured an intensely and unconquerably powerful sense of nostalgia and timeless beauty. hey, i was only about 4 or 5, maybe 6, but this song just stayed there. for toddler me, it WAS 'old music'.

Just got offed, Saturday, 12 January 2008 00:33 (eleven years ago) Permalink

nowadays it dips in and out of my consciousness at intervals of months, but it's just as clear. listening to it on youtube tonight merely confirms this. perhaps it's no special piece of songwriting. perhaps it's a leetle creepy. but it's in my head, and it's never, ever, ever coming out.

i will defend it to the hilt on these grounds.

Just got offed, Saturday, 12 January 2008 00:35 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Young girl is amazing.

jim, Saturday, 12 January 2008 00:40 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Creepy as fuck but amazing.

jim, Saturday, 12 January 2008 00:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I keep singing the chorus, because that is how my brain has always told me choruses should be sung. It's swelling, dramatic, mellow, haunting, sad, and powerful all at once. And the arrangement is perfect. It is impossible to describe in words quite how one's earliest musical staples 'work', though.

Just got offed, Saturday, 12 January 2008 00:49 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I mean, I didn't know what the song was called, who wrote it, or when, before YESTERDAY when I looked it up.

Just got offed, Saturday, 12 January 2008 18:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

they actually worked the song "Young Girl" into the sci-fi musical Return to the Forbidden Planet and the pedophilia theme is played for comedy.

Bo Jackson Overdrive, Saturday, 12 January 2008 18:06 (eleven years ago) Permalink

"This Girl Is a Woman Now" is like my favorite song of 1968. Um, if it came out in 1968. And "Woman, Woman" is creepy as fuck. Imagine Nick Cave singing it!

dr. phil, Saturday, 12 January 2008 21:25 (eleven years ago) Permalink

The guy's unhinged!

dr. phil, Saturday, 12 January 2008 21:26 (eleven years ago) Permalink

They're cool when they catch you by surprise, but I wouldn't buy a record.

Rev. Hoodoo, Sunday, 13 January 2008 08:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Record'd probably cost you a dollar. Treat yourself!

dr. phil, Sunday, 13 January 2008 19:55 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I meant to say "they're cool when they catch you by surprise ON THE RADIO," but somehow or another I forgot. Anyway, maybe I might DL one of their songs from iTunes for $1 a song - "Woman Woman" or "Young Girl" will likely sound real good when it randomly turns up on shuffle play, next to something that sounds 180-degrees different.

Rev. Hoodoo, Sunday, 13 January 2008 20:41 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Reportedly, a true story...

This collector acquaintance of mine met Puckett backstage at some oldies revue. He had a copy of the rare Outcasts single on Karate (this was Puckett's early garage-rock band, pre-Union Gap). When Puckett was asked to autograph it, he said he would, but he didn't have a pen. Then a few middle-aged soccer moms rolled up with some regular Puckett records to sign, then all of a sudden a pen turned up outta nowhere...

Rev. Hoodoo, Sunday, 13 January 2008 20:44 (eleven years ago) Permalink

eleven years pass...

I have become officially obsessed with “Lady Willpower.” That is one tight song structure.

timellison, Saturday, 13 April 2019 16:58 (two months ago) Permalink

Great song, I posted it here recently somewhere, he had a really good voice.

Do you like 70s hard rock with a guitar hero? (Tom D.), Saturday, 13 April 2019 17:08 (two months ago) Permalink

Morrissey cover coming up on his covers album...

timellison, Saturday, 13 April 2019 17:16 (two months ago) Permalink

somehow this thread reminded me of this truly awful california old-timey country band from the late '60s that had one 7" track or b-side that was an absolute psychedelic ripper. i can't remember the name of the band or the song though... hate it when that happens... one day it'll turn up, just like that great oil company jingle from the early '70s i have kicking around somewhere

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Saturday, 13 April 2019 17:30 (two months ago) Permalink

in my memory it sounds a little like "fatbird" by the collectors but it's not the collectors, their albums aren't nearly that terrible

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Saturday, 13 April 2019 17:41 (two months ago) Permalink

Stumped on that one. Not Nitty Gritty Dirt Band?

timellison, Saturday, 13 April 2019 18:09 (two months ago) Permalink

no, nitty gritty dirt band also not terrible, though i personally prefer "i'll search the sky" to their quadruple album whatever whatever

knowing me it's probably some group that maybe three people ever have heard

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Saturday, 13 April 2019 19:29 (two months ago) Permalink

"I'll Search the Sky" is nice. Could have been a tune on the Association's Renaissance album.

timellison, Saturday, 13 April 2019 20:15 (two months ago) Permalink

oh dammit there's another one, the first vocal line of "pandora's golden heebie jeebies" reminds me of another song that has a similar vocal line. like the same key or something, that's not a common key to write pop songs in, is it? anyway whatever song it is, it's brilliant, and i can't focus on the association song, which is very nice in its own right and has, you know, good harmonies, because there's the ghost of this other song there

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Saturday, 13 April 2019 21:56 (two months ago) Permalink

fuck, got it, "the scorpion lament" by the roches. great fucking song.

sorry, i know i'm derailing the thread seriously, but what else is there to say about gary puckett? most pederasty-driven songs in pop music, and that's a category with some fierce competition, also some good tunes. does he have any deep cuts? he ever do anything better than "lady willpower"?

Jaki Liebowitz (rushomancy), Saturday, 13 April 2019 22:02 (two months ago) Permalink

Their producer wrote or co-wrote those big hits that kinda sound the same and I think their Wikipedia page says there was the usual story of the band wanting to do their own material. Seems like there are the most self-written songs on the first and fourth albums, which bookend their short career.

timellison, Saturday, 13 April 2019 22:31 (two months ago) Permalink

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