Jake Holmes — “Think I’m Being Had”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 24, 2022


617) Jake Holmes — “Think I’m Being Had”

OK, I feel a little dazed and confused after listening to this song, the B-side of Holmes’ first single (’67). It has got to be the greatest “I know you’re cheating on me” song that I have ever heard.

Will Shade asks the eternal question: “How many musicians can claim to have been in a comedy team with Joan Rivers, written a concept album for Frank Sinatra, had one of their songs stolen by Led Zeppelin and hung out with Nelson Mandela?” (https://www.furious.com/perfect/jakeholmes.html)

He then provides the answer:

Only one: Jake Holmes. Holmes is most famous for two ’70’s anthems. However, few people know he wrote either of them. One is the aforementioned song that Jimmy Page & Co. nicked, “Dazed And Confused.” Holmes has never received a songwriting credit or royalties from the band . . . . The other tune is a commmercial that played repeatedly on television, a harangue to join the U.S. Army. C’mon, you remember it . . . “Be all you can be!” Now, that’s a twisted resume! However, Holmes deserves belated recognition for two brilliant albums released on the Tower label in 1967 and 1968. These two records have achieved legendary status . . . . Holmes’ first album for Tower, The Above Ground Sound Of Jake Holmes, is breathtaking in its stark approach. First, Holmes’ group employed absolutely no drummer. . . . Holmes’ sound is so far away from rock n roll, that it is impossible to pigeon-hole. What do you call it? Garage? Well, if you had a crowbar and a some plastique explosive you might pry it into that straitjacket. Folk influences merge with jazz scatting and fuzzed-out acid rock excursions in an bizarre hybrid that has yet to be named. This album is so far in the garage, it’s under the garage. But if you’re expecting something vaguely like The Seeds, forget it. The Above Ground Sound Of Jake Holmes truly defies description. It is as spartan as a slab of concrete. . . . Unfortunately, after the sepia-toned psychedelia of A Letter To Katherine December, Jake Holmes seemed unsure and unaware of where his true abilities lay. Holmes’ eclecticism worked brilliantly on his first two albums. However, that strength now turned into his Achilles heel. His next albums were in keeping with the ’70’s, singer-songwriter influences merging with country-rock sensibilities and not to this reviewer’s taste. Commercially, these albums met with no more success than his earlier hallucinatory efforts. Label changes ensued. Soon, no company would pick him up. With no record contract, Holmes plunged into the world of commercials. Strangely, this is where he finally found success.


Richie Unterberger gives us some history:

One of many journeyman New York folk-rock singer/songwriters of the late ’60s, Jake Holmes, if he’s remembered at all, is known as the author and original performer of “Dazed and Confused.” It is still not widely recognized that he wrote and recorded the first version of this song on his 1967 solo debut album, prior to it . . . becoming one of the most famous numbers in Led Zeppelin’s repertoire. Holmes earliest success came as a comedy duo with then-wife Kate. . . . perform[ing] under the alias Allen & Grier and releas[ing] a popular collection of folk revival parodies called Better to Be Rich Than Ethnic in the early ’60s. He had also worked in a group with fellow folk-rock singer/songwriter Tim Rose before going solo. . . . Holmes’ 1967 debut LP The Above Ground Sound of Jake Holmes . . . had an odd, edgy folk-rock sound built around a drumless trio, featuring Holmes’ rapid rhythm guitar strums and Ted Irwin’s spidery acid folk-jazz-lead guitar lines. . . . Holmes never profited from the worldwide success of Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused,” but he did strike gold as a writer of commercials with one of his jingles, the famous U.S. Army ad with the “be all that you can be” refrain.


And Techwebsound adds:

[Holmes] initially wrote and performed in several vocal groups including Jim, Jake & Joan, which included future famous comedian Joan Rivers. As the late 60s approached, he became interested in and heavily influenced by psychedelic rock and the genre’s pioneering bands like the Blues Project and Byrds. In early 1967, Holmes issued his debut single (“You Can’t Get Love” b/w “Think I’m Being Had”)


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