Dec 092010

Greetings, fellow townspeeps!  Readers familiar with our ongoing Mach Schau series will know what the drill is here. Essentially, we’re looking to you to help explain why the performances we post are as compelling as we think they are. And by we, I mean me, of course. This time around, though… there’s a twist!

Following are three clips–all featuring the same song, “Treat Her Right”–a big hit in the early ’60s. The first two versions you’ll see are performed by the man who originally made the song a hit, Roy Head. Head was a white Southeast Texas soul man who got his start–very unusually for that time and region–playing in black clubs and juke joints. He was so convincingly “black” on record, in fact, that he would routinely shock audiences when the curtain rose. Then he’d get to moving and grooving, and, well, the following two clips will explain why the color of his skin no longer mattered.

Treat Her Right by Roy Head #1

Treat Her Right by Roy Head #2

Anyhow, the third clip is of the same song, this time as performed by perennial Schau-Stopper and RTH fave Tom Jones. You’ll see a different interpretation on display, but one which I venture to say is no less compelling.

Treat Her Right by Tom Jones

In any case, the drill remains the same: Discuss. Explain. Elaborate. Pick a favorite if you must.

SHOWDOWN (choose one): Which version of "Treat Her Right" is the Mach Schau-est of all?

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I look forward to your responses.



  12 Responses to “Mach Schau… SHOWDOWN! Roy Head vs Tom Jones”

  1. It’s no contest, as far as I’m concerned. Head version #2 has the perfect camera angle and spotlight for Head’s acrobatic splits! Plus, you can tell Roy’s extra-fired up from brushing up against those go-go dancers at the intro.

    My question is, who thought his voice sounded particularly “black,” some Scandanavians? (No offense to our Scandanavian Townspeople.)

  2. hrrundivbakshi

    I’d like to kick things off by acknowledging that this one is T-O-U-G-H. On the one hand, Roy Head really brings a manic intensity to the show, tossing out one wack dance move after another with lightning speed. But he lacks a little in terms of flow and — shall we say — lyricism. On the other hand, there’s Tom. He may be a bit of a one-trick pony, but LORD does he work the performance-as-extended-metaphor-for-me-banging-your-brains-out thing. Tom Jones kicks ass!

    Having said all that, I remain undecided, for now. I could use some help here, people. Who’s the mach schau-iest of all?

  3. misterioso

    Definitely RH version 2. Tom Jones–I don’t know. Funny, in his way, but always trying way too hard for me to find him actually entertaining.

  4. mockcarr

    Head seems to be performing a modified James Brown with a half Freddy step to the side and quarter lotus/mendicant position. The extreme degree of difficulty is undercut by lack of actual singing. I award the decision to the frenetic head shaking, one arm twisting, left-handed microphone-safety conscious moves of the Welshman.

  5. First of all let me state that all are outstanding efforts.

    The easy elimination for me is Tom Jones. Something about his performance is a little slicker and more polished that either of the RH performances. It’s like he knows he has the crowd in his hand and he’s performing for them, as opposed to RH 1&2, who are dancing with the crazed fervor of someone who’s living gig to gig. He needs to leave it all on the stage or risk the long ride home to a day job and a lifetime of wondering why he couldn’t have given just a little bit more… On any other day, Tom Jones could have gone home with the gold, but the RH one-two punch is too much for anyone short of James Brown to withstand.

    The much tougher call is between RH1 and RH2. Both have a sizable amount of spastic twitching and some great poses, the combination of which earns them big points. I was initially leaning towards RH2 with its unhinged attempts at doing a split. But after viewing them again, I have to go with RH1. It has that spectacular double summersault from the top of the stage and that faux-backwards ice skating move at 1:12. That’s tough to beat. So, RH1 by a nose.

  6. BigSteve

    I can’t vote for any of these. I don’t mind when musicians dance and look like they’re enjoying the music. It’s the ‘look at me! look at me!’ aspect that I don’t like, that whole vaudeville thing of being willing to do anything to ‘sell the song.’

    James Brown danced as if he was literally compelled to do so by the sounds, not to mention that he was literally conducting the band, almost composing the music with his body. Compared to him this stuff is just showbiz. Bah humbug.

  7. I know what you mean, plus I’m never impressed by this song. It’s too stupid for me, but I still give it up for the spotlight version with those David Lynch camera angles on Head’s splits.

    How does the following version fit into your perspective on this issue, BigSteve?

  8. BigSteve

    Thanks a lot, now I have to go pour bleach into my eyes.

  9. I’m going with Roy Head, version 2. That one seems to be one of those TV performances where the guy is actually singing to a pre-recorded backing track, and he pulls it off for me. Remember all of the talk of recent pop stars who had to lipsynch because they couldn’t sing and do their moves. He does though. The first version without the necessity to keep his mic at hand turns into a bit of an acrobatic routine as opposed to a singing/dancing performance.

    I understand what BigSteve was saying about such performances in general as opposed to James Brown, in particular, but I’m still partial to performers that cop James’ powerful moves, Janelle Monae and the Little Purple guy to name a couple. I agree that Head copped a lot of his basic schtick from JB, but he added some really interesting moves, like those bent legged splits that I’ve never seen.

    Tom Jones is doing his Tom Jones. That frantic Monkey/Jerk move that he does is effective, but here his performance seems dependent on the established salivating adoring audience, rather than his actual performance. He’s a little rough and sloppy because, hell, he knows he just has to give the audience a chance to go crazy. He’s workin’ them more than he’s workin’.

  10. I also agree that there’s nothing especially black sounding about Head’s delivery, at least not for the post Elvis era.

  11. When RH dances, it is distracting to me cause it is so over done and weird. Didn’t anyone tell him that if he does stuff like that he’s going to be known as the guy who does stuff like that , and nothing else. I’m going with Tom Jones because he’s really singing, and groovin at the appropriate times. He isn’t weird looking when he rocks out

  12. This is in regards to RH1. Noticed what could be tics. Realize they may not be. Below is a list of possible tics in the video.
    I think its interesting in a course of two minutes.
    Chart of Ticsof Tourette Syndrome, Tourette’s syndrome, Tourette’s Disorder

    Arm extending, arm flapping, arm rotating, arm touching, arm flailing,arm flexing, arm jerking,
    Bending at the waist, bending at the knees, bending knees
    Clothes pulling, Tugs on jacket.
    Copropraxia. Wiggles back side. Minor example.
    Extending arms, extending neck
    Facial grimacing. As he says “Hey”, finger movements
    Flapping arms Grimacing – mouth, facial Gyrating
    Hand fiddling, hand flexing, hand snapping
    Head toss, head jerk, head turn, head shaking,
    Jerking head, jerking neck, jerking body
    Jumping Leg tensing, leg jerking, leg extending
    Lip-licking, Just after yelling “Hey. Touching nose.
    Fiddling with his jacket toward end of performance.
    Shaking head, shaking feet, shaking arms, shaking legs, shaking hands Shrugging shoulders
    Smelling fingers. Unsure if he does this. Part right after he yells “Hey”Somersaulting Squatting Walking backwards. Couple seconds past licking fingers with tongue.
    Stomping Tongue thrusting Torso thrusting, torso twisting


    yelling, screaming.

    Laughing Palilalia – repeating one’s own words, Hey, Hey, Hey



    Yelling saw in the video. RH1

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