Ah the good ol’ days – when a record company would let you record a bunch of albums, giving you time to find your breakout hit. It took the Climax Blues Band until their 9th LP (5th with Sire Records) to finally hit the pop charts with Couldn’t Get It Right which hit #3 in early 1977. But by the time that happened, this UK band, formally named the Climax Chicago Blues Band, neither reminded anyone of Chicago and the climax never came. All that was left was the blues.
This song was written, like so many are, by being forced by the record company to write a hit, so they accidentally do. [Wait, that does contradict my opening statement, doesn’t it?] It’s a story that talks about the band on the road and their experiences, especially with New York & L.A. Their comparison of the 2 cities is actually something they did get right. In N.Y. they were a no account fatality and in L.A. they were felt alright, got down, almost drowned and can’t get back they way they used to be. That sounds right for 1977. Even Woody Allen would agree with that one, and did later in the year with Annie Hall.
One nice touch in the song is the vocals. One goes high, the other goes low, especially when he drowwwwwned. [I think Lenny Kravitz built a lot of his vocal style from that note, and of course Curtis Mayfield and Ray Parker Jr.] And you gotta dig that the lead vocalist was also a sax player. The dual vocals, an octave apart, became a distinctive part of the CBB sound. The only other band I can think of that regularly utilized that singing style was Squeeze.
But really I think these guys are being too hard on themselves. What they can’t get right is trying to get through the night. Guys, it’s OK, you can rest – go to sleep. Or is that light you’re looking for, a Motel 6 and you keep missing the exit?