Classic Singles #69: The Denims – White Ship / Salty Dog Man (1966)

Denims_labelThe Denims, from the borough of Queens in New York, definitely saved their best until last with the a-side of their final single, the monumental ‘White Ship’. Not to say that the rest of their catalogue isn’t worth checking out. I’m sure most 60s fiends would dig the surfbeat / garage fusion of ‘I’m Your Man’ or the driving pop-punk of ‘The Ghost In Your House Is Me’. And there is always the raucous frat of ‘The Adler Sock’, recorded for a promotional 45 for a Cincinnati, Ohio sock company that was given away free with each purchase of their clothing.

I don’t know if ‘White Ship’, which appeared on the Mercury label in August 1966, was inspired by the strange dreamscapes of the short story by horror writer H.P. Lovecraft (Chicago legends H.P. Lovecraft did of course base a  song on this story on their 1967 debut album). It is in any case an intense and brooding punkadelic monster with a raga-esque break and lyrics that speak of psychedelic rather than maritime exploration – this is a ship on “a journey into space and time” that “went down with all our sanity”, and the band are fervent in their repeated exhortation to “Ride baby ride – so deep in my mind / Ride baby ride – leave reality behind”. “Oh no!” indeed.

‘White Ship’

‘Salty Dog Man’

Denims_ps‘Salty Dog Man’ was lifted from the single that was released on Cavort in April 1966. This was another promotional record, issued in a neat picture sleeve, that was recorded for Scrub Denim Jeans to raise the profile of their Salty Dog brand. It is a swinging ‘clap your hands’ groover with some tasteful lead guitar work.

Reissues: ‘White Ship’ is on A Fistful of Fuzz and Pebbles Volume 7 (vinyl); the flip is on Fuzz, Flaykes and Shakes Volume 2.

  • The Adler Sock / The Adler Sock (Columbia, 1965)
  • Ya Ya / I’m Your Man (Columbia, 1965)
  • Sad Girl / Everybody Let’s Dance (Columbia, 1965)
  • Salty Dog / Salty Dog Man (Cavort, 1966)
  • The Ghost in Your House Is Me / I Do Love You Baby (Mercury, 1966)
  • White Ship / Salty Dog Man (Mercury, 1966)

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