“Can’t Explain”

“Can’t Explain” is a cover of a song by Arthur Lee’s legendary band Love, recorded and released by Strawberry Alarm Clock‘s early incarnation Thee Sixpence in 1966. It was the b-side of the band’s first single, which had “Long Days Care” on the a-side.

While not as great as Love’s version, Thee Sixpence’s “Can’t Explain” actually has a faster feel than the original, while the band plays it pretty close to the original, even (inevitably, perhaps) copying the famous bass lines. This cover does have some of the words slightly changed: where the original says “Can’t explain / You always want to start a fight”, Thee Sixpence have it as

“Can’t explain
You all heard what I said.”

The singing is valiant but aggressively rag-tag, which suits the song in its own way. Singer/shouter Lee Freeman even includes Arthur Lee’s extemporized “play it one time for the world!” bit from the original. The band are on quite a tear, barely keeping up with the song, but since that tends to be what people like about 60s punk, Thee Sixpence’s “Can’t Explain” is just what the doctor ordered.

It’s not a Who song

Some sources mistakenly call this a cover of the Who song “I Can’t Explain”. “I Can’t Explain” by the Who song is totally different than the Love song, which is an Arthur Lee original.

Appears on

45: “Long Days Care” b/w “Can’t Explain” (All American 303) (1966)
LP: Step By Step (1998 Thee Sixpence compilation)

Right now on eBay: Thee Sixpence