On Second Thought: The JuJus – You Treat Me Bad (2009)

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From 1964-67, the JuJus were one of the top bands in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan. Along with the few fantastic singles the group cooked up, You Treat Me Bad also features a gob of previously unreleased material, resulting in a thorough survey of their sessions.

Early demos show the JuJus mining yesterday’s pop fashions as opposed to the hot new wares of the British Invasion. A doo-wop feel directs “I Love Her So,” while “Runaround Girl,” “I Don’t Want To See You Again,” and “She’s My Girl” expose a reverence for the cleverly-constructed pop rock musings of artists like Del Shannon and Gene Pitney. The sultry signals of a saxophone give these songs an added layer of color and soul.

The band’s debut single “You Treat Me Bad” reached the No. 2 slot on the regional charts in October of 1965. Guided by wiggly vocals, aching with emotion, the winning song fuses the clinging and choppy punch of the Kinks with a touch of moody folk rock measures. Their flipside, the cuddly and snuggly “Hey Little Girl,” pins Bobby Vee-styled teen pop curves to a tight and bouncy Beatlesque vibe.

Formed of lean and speedy rhythms, complemented by slamming drumming, intense riffing, and a jarring break, “I’m Really Sorry” marked the Julus’ second single. Pressed under the name of lead singer Ray Hummel, “The Gentle Rain” is a fine folk-rock ballad, complete with the lonely cry of a harmonica.

Saturated with ringing guitars and a nagging hook, “If You Really Love Me” culls obvious inspiration from the Byrds, “It’s Gonna Be All Right” rocks to a hard-edged cadence, a super-peppy pop delivery cloaks “In The Park,” which involves a curtain of “la la la la la la” choruses reflective of the Who, and then there’s a raw-boned version of “Open Up Your Door,” that was originally written and recorded by Richard and the Young Lions.

Economical yet exciting, these songs were an ideal vehicle for the band’s energy and vision. The JuJus illustrate everything real there is about traditional garage pop, making You Treat Me Bad (Cicadelic Records) required listening for those appreciative of such swinging sounds. So fresh and so clean.

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