“Hey Joe”

“Hey Joe” (misspelled “Hay Joe” on the label) is the b-side of Thee Sixpence‘s third single, “In The Building”, from 1966. (Thee Sixpence would soon evolve into Strawberry Alarm Clock.) This record was released on the All American label, and re-released on a compilation album in 1998. (In addition to the song name being misspelled, the band’s name is rendered incorrectly on both sides of this single: “The” instead of “Thee”. Wow.)

Both of Thee Sixpence’s previous 45s had covers of songs from Love’s first album as their b-side (“Can’t Explain” and “My Flash On You” respectively), so although “Hey Joe” was released by many bands in its pre-Hendrix punk form (the Leaves and the Byrds, notably), it is reasonable to consider this the third Arthur Lee cover b-side in a row for Thee Sixpence.

Thee Sixpence’s “Hey Joe” is, at the end of the day, rather ineffectual — the energy is there, but it’s consigned to the singer’s and (especially) the drummer’s performances; it’s the rhythm guitar that proves to be a bit too bland. This tends to bring the whole thing down a couple notches. It’s something of a minor quibble though — there are some really neat ideas on this version of “Hey Joe”. For one thing, there are several moments where the band suddenly crams an extra beat into a measure, turning the brutal 1/2 beat into a jarring 3/4 for a split second, something merely hinted at on most other versions. Thee Sixpence, by contrast, proudly highlight it.

“Hey Joe” is, here, not as fierce as the Leaves’ version, not as blunt as Love’s, not as recklessly melodic as the Byrds’, and not as moodily groundbreaking as the song’s own a-side — but it’s good 1966 b-side material and, if nothing else, a good example of Gene Gunnels’ ample percussion ability.

Appears on

45: “In The Building” b/w “Hay Joe” [sic] (All American 333) (1966)
LP: Step By Step (1998 compilation)