I’ve had this song stuck in my head for something like a month now, and it’s showing no signs of going away. Now I share the joy with you.
Yeah, the video is a little on the cheesy side, but you’ve got to remember that it’s a product of its time. (I’m pretty sure it’s lip-synched, too; I have a bootleg from that period, and the song doesn't fade like that live. Having seen Mr. Melonball on that particular tour, I will say that it matches up pretty well with my memory of what the show was like.) Full disclosure: if I could do those James Brown splits, you can bet your ass I’d be doing them at every opportunity.
I love the way the song sounds. The production is fairly light-handed (for being from the 80s), and the interplay of the fiddle and accordion knocks me out every time. It’s that little riff that’s been buzzing around my skull all this time. And hey, let’s give it up for the fierce background singers – especially the one stage left, with the maracas.
Usually Melonhead’s songs fall down in the lyric department. Dude wrote some really good rock & roll records, but the words weren’t always there. In this particular case, though, I think he did alright. It’s difficult to do the “rocker sliding into adulthood” thing well – there are a couple of other attempts on the same album, The Lonesome Jubilee, that plow the same field and only turn up stones and bad lines:“That’s when a smoke was a smoke / and groovin’ was groovin’ / and dancin’ meant everything / We were young and we were improvin’”, from “Cherry Bomb”, for example. Not bad enough? How about “She had a dream / And boy it was a good one / So she chased after her dream / With much desire” from “Paper In Fire”? They’re both decent-sounding songs, but the lyrics just ain’t getting’ it done.
With “Check It Out”, though, I think ol’ John cut a little closer to the bone. Or maybe it’s just that I’m twenty years older now and it resonates now in a way it didn’t then. I’m officially older than dirt now, so I dunno.
Anyway, there it is.