THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD
470) Jeff St. John and The Id — “Watch Out”
Take this ‘66 B-side and ’67 album track by “Australia’s finest rock vocalist” [Jeff St. John] (https://www.thirdstonepress.com.au/archive-blog/2018/3/20/jeff-st-john-the-id-big-time-operators-1967) outside — it’s smoking! Ian McFarlane says of the song that “[t]he band-penned ‘Watch Out’ opens with a snarling R&B guitar line . . . and the whole song is brimming with punk attitude. [Jeff St. John’s] warning a rival upstart to stay away from his girl and he’s spoiling for a confrontation . . . .” (https://www.thirdstonepress.com.au/archive-blog/2018/3/20/jeff-st-john-the-id-big-time-operators-1967, liner notes to the CD reissue of Big Time Operators)
St. John recalls:
“Oh yeah, I can remember that one because I wrote it!” St John proclaims with a laugh. “It was my lyric, it was my melody but it was basically just a thing we all hashed up in the studio because we needed a B-side for ‘You Got Me Hummin’’. So we just threw it together in the studio. And it worked.”https://www.thirdstonepress.com.au/archive-blog/2018/3/20/jeff-st-john-the-id-big-time-operators-1967
[Jeff St. John’s] first album with The Id, Big Time Operators . . . is . . . unique . . . with no other Australian group of the time sounding so bold and brassy, so downright funky. . . . Born Jeffrey Leo Newton . . . [he] began his professional singing career in 1965 when he was invited to join Sydney band The Syndicate . . . . The Syndicate became The Wild Oats and then The Id. The singer also changed his name to Jeff St John . . . .
[St. John recalls that “]We were named The Id after the Freudian term, because Sigmund Freud claimed that the id was the primary motivating force of human nature and that’s how these guys saw us. Then they said to me, ‘we’d like you to change your name to Jeff St John’ and that fulfilled every childhood fantasy that I had and that’s who I became from that point on.” . . . “That blues and R&B influence was the guys in The Id spoon-feeding this talented, naive kid,” says St John. “When the band first got together, they formulated a philosophy that unlike pretty much all the other bands in Australia at the time, they weren’t going to jump onto the English beat music wagon. The English bands were copying and drawing their influences from the American source so rather than copy the copyists, we went directly to the source as well. We were putting our own interpretation on the original works. . . . The guys in The Id had access to all this incredible stuff. . . . record collections that spanned the whole Mississippi delta blues period, so we were listening to people like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Jimmy Reed, Leadbelly. We knew that Leadbelly’s real name was Huddie Ledbetter, nobody else knew that shit at the time.
The definitive MILESAGO: Australasian Music & Popular Culture 1964-1975 adds:
[A]lmost constantly supported by crutches because of his worsening [spina bifida], Jeff joined forces with an established Sydney blues-rock outfit called The Syndicate who he met by chance at the Sydney Musicians Club in early 1965. . . . The Syndicate with Jeff on board . . . . [was a] powerhouse band [that] quickly became a leading attraction in Sydney . . . and also made inroads in the Melbourne scene . . . with its powerful, brass-augmented repertoire and Jeff’s rich and soulful vocals. Jeff St John & the Id’s reputation as one of the country’s top R&B bands also earned them a well-received support gig on the 1967 Yardbirds, Roy Orbison and Walker Brothers package tour of Australia. On record, Jeff and The Id are probably best remembered for their scorching, brass-laden smash single, “Big Time Operator” . . . . [a] cover of the Hayes-Porter-Jones number . . . and all seemed set for a successful future for The Id. They recorded a fine album in March 1967, called Big Time Operators . . . and in April issued a final single called “You Got Me Hummin'” b/w “Watch Out”. The album was a good representation of the Id’s Stax/Atlantic styled stage repertoire, but was not the strong seller that was the hit single suggested it might become.http://www.milesago.com/Artists/jeffstjohn.htm
“Watch out when you’re walking my baby, yeah. Watch out when you’re walking my baby, yeah. Watch out when you’re walking my girl. She’s the sweetest thing is this whole world. Watch out when you’re walking my baby, yeah. Watch out when I come looking for you, alright. . . . Watch out when I’m driving ’round town. I’ll be in my Cadillac and I’m gonna run you down. Watch out when I come looking for you, alright. Now cool it! . . .”
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