Unusual Collectibles

How Unusual Can It Get?

In November 1965, The Unusuals, a popular garage rock band from Bellingham, WA recorded a song written by a local 25 year old KPUG deejay, Jay Hamilton (that’d be me), and it was released in the spring of 1966 on Panorama Records, a subsidiary label of the Seattle-based record company Jerden Records. Since its release that particular song, “I’m Walking Babe,” has received a remarkable amount of attention worldwide and is known as a true “Garage Band Classic.” After more than 50 years, The Unusuals’ recording has been featured on an astounding number of compilation albums and has been recorded and performed by a surprising number of bands in both the US and Europe. “I’m Walking Babe” has also been featured on the soundtrack of at least two different European television series, one in France and the other in Britain.

Here’s a quick peek at the bewildering impact this surprising 1965 recording has made worldwide.

Je Marche Bébé

The French television series “The White Zone” (French: “Zone Blanche”) was a French/Belgian television supernatural thriller premiering on French TV in April 2017 and eventually released internationally by Netflix in 2019. The soundtrack album from that series features The Unusuals’ “I’m Walking Babe.”

However, it was listed for some unknown reason on the LP as “Yeah” by The Unusuals & Jay Hamilton. If you’re familiar with the recording you’re aware the word “yeah” is an obviously prominent part of the lyrics, but certainly not the song’s intended or original title.

Hey Mate, I’m Walking Here!

The British television series, “The End of The F***ing World,” ran from 2017 to 2019 with 16 episodes. Netflix handled its distribution and released it internationally in 2018. The series was based on mini-comics of the same title, which were collected into a book in 2013. The series received a Peabody Award in 2019 and The British Academy Television Award for Best Drama Series in 2020. A number of videos have been produced and released featuring scenes from that British TV series and The Unusuals’ recording of “I’m Walking Babe” (Click HERE for a video with lyrics of “Walking” from the British series).

Gangster Walk

Someone in Europe produced an imaginative video in 2000 using “Walking Babe” as the soundtrack music and incorporated scenes from the 2000 British crime drama film “Gangster No. 1,” starring Malcolm McDowell and Paul Bettany (Click HERE to view this clever video).

Over the years a number of videos have been released on YouTube and Vimeo featuring bands worldwide doing cover versions of the Jay Hamilton (again … that would be me) penned song with a few slight changes to the song title and several obviously ad-libbing and straying from some of the original (actual) song lyrics.

So, here’s a look at a portion of the cover versions by bands in the U.S. & Europe. Because there are a sizable number of covers you may want to take a quick sampling from each, then return to them later if you feel like a more complete “Walk.”

Perpató Moró mou

The Walking Screams, an Athens, Greece garage band, active in the mid-90s, recorded a rather “hyper” version of the tune in 1995 for Stoneage Recording. Click HERE for the Screams.

You’re Walking? Oh, Contraire!

A New York City band, The Contrarians, recorded the song on Dec. 23, 2001 under the title “I’m A Walkin'” for an EP, “You Will Listen,” on Pure Vinyl Records and released in 2002. Click HERE for their contrary version.

Jêg Gar Babe

The Lust-O-Rama, a Norwegian garage rock band active from 1989 to 1993, recorded one of the better cover versions of “Walking” in Jan. 1993 for a 1996 release on their “Good Morning Little Schoolboy” EP on That’s Entertainment Records. (Click HERE for their Lusty version.)

Ich Gehe Baby

Among the more recent covers of “Walking” is one from Hara-Kee-Rees a rock band born in Cologne, Germany in 2002 who describe their form of rock as a “snotty frat band” with an explosive mix of ’60s Pacific Northwest “Garage Punk” on the one hand and modern Scandinavian rock on the other. Their version is on a single on Kuriosa Records out of the Netherlands.

Additional Cover Versions Of “Walking Babe”

“Walking Babe” is also on an album released in 2010 titled “Dance Loud” by another band with a slightly bizarre name, The Old In Out … on Jersey Fresh Records. In a San Diego Reader review the band’s described as “capturing the straight-ahead garage sound best conveyed by their cover of The Unusuals “I’m Walking Babe.” The band started in a garage in Ocean Beach, CA while the LP was recorded at EarthLink Studios in El Cajon.

The Rochester, NY band The Projectiles cover of “Walking” was released on their album “Hanging Out.” The LP was touted as a pure nugget of ’60s garage brilliance and one of the highlights of Rochester’s ’80s garage rock revival. Although the album was recorded in May/June 1989 it wasn’t released until 2004 on Screaming Apple Records out of Germany.”

Walkin’ In Athens

A pleasant surprise for fans of The Unusuals and “I’m Walking Babe” came on November 11, 2019 with the posting of a live performance video of “Walking” from the Athens, Greece dance club Lost’nFound featuring the popular local garage rock group and recording artist, Yesterday’s Thoughts. The band was formed in 1996 and has released a number of successful EPs & albums in Europe. Interestingly, the band’s name comes from the 1976 Art Farmer jazz album of the same name. For the hard rockin’ sounds of “I’m Walking Babe” by Yesterday’s Thoughts click on the video below. (It’s ad free on Vimeo so click the start button 2x – first to get to Vimeo, then to start the video.)

It’s Not Complicated • It’s Compilation!

So, why has “I’m Walking Babe” clearly made such an impact in Europe with its use on television series’ soundtracks and its covers by European garage/punk bands? My personal assumption has always been that it is due to the abundance of compilation albums of early Northwest Rock ‘n Roll, released on European record labels. European rock musicians clearly have always had a craving for rarified American Rock and Blues recordings. I have many of these compilation albums in my personal collection and the simple truth is “I’m Walking Babe” is one of the better recordings on most of these LPs … thanks to the musical talent of The Unusuals. The question of how this fairly obscure Northwest Rock recording was discovered by a rock band in Athens, Greece was asked of band members of Yesterday’s Thoughts. They specifically gave credit to the song’s inclusion on the compilation album “Highs In The Mid-Sixties – Volume #16 • The Northwest Part #3.” Spiros, the lead guitarist for the Greek band, especially mentioned that he first heard the song 25 years ago on this particular album and it has always been one of his favorites.

The truly remarkable thing about this song really is the amazing number of compilation albums the original, by The Unusuals, has appeared on. Here is a visual list of those albums.

An Unusual Original

Now, here’s the original 1965 recording by The Unusuals and written by Jay Hamilton (that would be me) that started all this commotion over 55 years ago. The Unusuals were, at the time of the recording: Harvey Redmond (bass/lead vocal on “Walking”), Bill Capp (lead guitar), Laurie Vitt (guitar/sax/vocals), Vic Bundy (organ), Pat Jerns (drums) Kathi McDonald (background vocals on “Walking” and lead vocalist). (Click HERE to listen to the original taken from the grooves of that original Panorama single.)

I have continually marveled over the international success of this song. Simply from a songwriter’s point of view … compared with the hundreds of songs I have written over the years, “I’m Walking Babe,” purely as a song, scarcely makes my personal Top-10. Truthfully, I feel I’ve hopefully written smarter lyrics, finer melodies and had stronger storylines. But the simple fact remains, this little song has struck a chord (pun intended) with more people than anything else I have ever written … including my attempts to interest music publishers and recording artists in my material. The question I continually ask is: “Why is that?” Well, my current conclusion is threefold. 1st, the song itself with it’s simple and universal themes of teen angst, young love and passion created some difference. But to be honest and more importantly, I’m of the opinion that most of the credit lies with the group The Unusuals themselves. Their musical interpretation of my song made it into the “garage classic” it became. So, reason #2 is without a doubt the frantic angst-filled vocals by Harvey Redmond and then #3  belongs to the terrifically imaginative guitar lead by Bill Capp. I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve read comparing “Walking” to the sounds of Jim Morrison & The Doors, who didn’t burst upon the music scene until several years later. In short, it was what The Unusuals created with the song that managed to give it that “special something” which garage music fans and bands alike listen for and collectively relate to. But the truth be known, beyond those few fragile postulations … I have no freaking idea!

Author: Jay Hamilton

Jay Hamilton is a veteran disc jockey, program director, music director and radio programming consultant. In the Pacific Northwest, he is best remembered for his time at KMPS AM/FM during the '70s and '80s. Jay is now retired and lives on the Olympic Peninsula. Music, of nearly every genre, has always been an important aspect of his life and he frequently contributes opinions, articles and "Collectibles" to Puget Sound Media.
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8 thoughts on “Unusual Collectibles

  1. So Steven, maybe your wife would be interested in “Zone Blanche”. It’s in one of the romance languages! I suggest you bring along a translator or your French Dictionary … or maybe you can request English captions.
    Here’s a link to the trailer for that French television series:
    https://youtu.be/BYOMUfC4Npw

  2. Not recognizing the title of the focus of your posting, but I remember my older sister always telling me the Unusuals were “a big deal” when she was going to WWSC.
    What I really remember from this band was “Summer Is Over”, with Kathi doing the vocals. Even made a trip back over to KPUG to visit with Jungle George Ruggles, which sadly, it would turn out, was the last time, to “borrow” the last refrain at the end of the song to drop in on my radio show in Wenatchee as Summer came to an end.

    1. John: More than likely, the reason “I’m Walking Babe” is a song title that you are not familiar with is because the recording received only sporadic regional (northwest) radio airplay when it was released in 1966. KPUG played the other side of this release, “Babe, It’s Me” which reached #1 on the station’s playlist. However, “Babe, It’s Me” was never included on any compilation albums reaching fans of early Northwest Rock in the US and Europe. “Walking Babe” falls into that category of record releases that had more of an impact in Europe than in America. Many of the very early cover songs that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and other early British invasion musicians recorded were songs that were recorded by basically obscure US artists but never had an impact in America … yet were coveted by European musicians. Although not exactly the same “Walking Babe” is more or less in that category.

  3. Jay,

    Ever since we reconnected after about 50 years it has been very interesting to follow this song. Have you watched that “World” show? If so, what is it like? Sci-fi?

    1. Steve: If I hadn’t accidentally come upon your posting of “I’m Walking Babe” by The Unusuals on YouTube several years ago I would have never become aware of its international success. ~ As far as “World”, the British television series, is concerned … I haven’t had a chance to view it, but here’s a link to the trailer for that series and it should give you a damn good idea of what that weird little TV series is about.
      https://youtu.be/1mhWzjgbLO0

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