I’m A Hog For You is one of my favorite songs, no matter who’s performing it. This week I dedicated myself to listening to every version I could find and in doing so discovered there are really no bad versions of the song. There are some … less than good ones, sure, but in general, and especially if you stick to the pre-1980 recordings, the song is just too good to ruin. I’ve made a playlist of twenty excellent versions that I’ll link below, but if you want to see my fav five, I’m making them the record of the day.
1. The Coasters (1959)
Written by Leiber and Stoller, like so many other jams, the song was originally recorded in 1959 by the Coasters. It was the B-side to mega-hit Poison Ivy, though if you ask me, it’s the better of the two sides. The version sets the original tone for the song, as sweet and upbeat as any Coasters jam, with those bass note background “yeahs” that singers spent the next few decades trying to emulate.
2. The Groupies (1966)
In the 60s, a lot of bands covered I’m A Hog For You. And they all did a decent job of it. They also all had great band names. Dickie Loader and the Blue Jeans. Freddie and the Dreamers. Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs. For the most part, these versions are pretty interchangeable, and you probably know what to expect before you even listen to them. A bunch of shaggy haired white boys, some American, some not. But at this moment in time, my pick of the litter is The Groupies, a bunch of teen boys from New York who recorded the song in 1966 during a career that centered around energetic live shows but failed to make any of them famous. Still, it’s a jam, and I bet seeing them do it live was even better.
3. Otis Redding (1966)
When Otis recorded the song, he made it his own, changing the arrangement and turning it into a slower, more soulful tune, as only Otis can do. He also changed the spelling from Hog to Hawg, and apparently those changes were enough to get him a writing credit on his version of the song, right alongside Mike and Jerry. Fannie Redding did not raise a fool. Now, Otis’ isn’t actually my favorite cover of this version of the song. That pick goes to Tina Britt, but for some reason her video is blocked in the U.S., so I’m not posting it here. But if you’re not in the states, maybe this link will work for you. Of course you really should own her full LP, anyway, as I’ve mentioned before. But for now, here’s Otis.
4. Clifton Chenier (1971)
In the late 60s and early 70s, a few big groups recorded the song, including the Kinks and the Dead, but one star took it in another new direction: the Zydeco way. Clifton Chenier gave the song a welcome Cajun spin, complete with washboard, accordion and swapping the lyrics to his native French. It makes for a very cool version of an already cool song. It’s the kind of music that brings to mind an outdoor summertime family picnic. Not my family, we’re too WASPy for things like that. But the kind you see in movies, or see other people enjoying in the park and still manage to feel a part of.
5. King Uszniewicz And His Uszniewicztones (1977)
The last time I wrote about King Uszniewicz And His Uszniewicztones here, it was wildly unpopular. I guess that makes sense; the band is not for everyone. But still, I’m going to do it again, because I love them so much. If you want impressive musical talent, look higher on this list. But if you want fun, these kids who spent their teen years playing covers in Detroit bowling alleys back in the 70s will make you smile. Are party bands even a thing any more? I’m always on the lookout, and starting to wonder. If you still like to rock, but can’t go quite this low fi, you have options. This jam is limitless.
Are you a hog for I’m A Hog For You? Have I left you wanting more? You’re in luck. Here’s a YouTube playlist with my top twenty versions, created for your listening pleasure: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpav1sgcjBH5Hyh3kUfguf_JtoyMCq3Mo
If you know of a good one that I’ve missed, I’d love to hear it. Hit me up on twitter @dammitdacia.