Tommy James and the Shondells – Hanky Panky

First Hit #1: July 16, 1966

Another throwback, and another song that’s sort of about sex but not quite. Hanky Panky seems like a refugee from earlier in the decade, where everyone was trying to put together their new exciting dance crazes. Of course, Hanky Panky has since gone on to have a much sexier meaning than just being a sexy dance – it’s even the most popular adult home party store! I didn’t know that was a thing! But then again I’m not a woman, which is what their… uh… stiff.. I mean stuff is marketed towards – and this version is pretty well committed to the idea that something sexy is going on. Tommy James manages the trick of sounding very aroused during the song, and his band sounds completely drunk. It’s pretty stupid, very repetitive and borderline terrible. James once said something about them not wanting to mess with the original recordings because competence would ruin what was special about them. He’s kind of right, because everything being kind of terrible cancels all the other terrible parts out and makes it strangely brilliant. And, separated from all the other dance crazes from a few years before, it sounds strangely timeless.

It’s either awfully brilliant or brilliantly awful, I can’t decide.

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