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Witness Inc.

Witness Inc. - Jezebel / Not You Girl - 7

Jezebel / Not You Girl - 7"
Apex - 1967

Michael Panontin
Out of the prairies - Saskatoon to be exact - came local heroes the Witness Inc., who got their 15 minutes' worth with their second seven-incher for Apex, a cover of the Frankie Laine hit 'Jezebel' that scaled the prairie pop charts in early 1968. Covered by countless acts through the years from the Everly Brothers to Herman's Hermits (with the latter's 1967 Ed Sullivan appearance most likely the template for this version), the cowboy crooner classic is given a rather potent garage punk whooping here, bolstered by some hefty guitar/organ and Kenny Shields' robust pipes.

Some relentless touring across the west (some of it with Cream) solidified their fan base there, with the boys even receiving airplay as far off as Seattle and Spokane (Washington). By February of '68, it was payday for the band as 'Jezebel' climbed to Number 1 at CKXL-AM in Calgary. However, the fiery 'Not You Girl' is what really makes collectors go all aflutter, though it's hard to see why. It is standard garage fare, decked with a nervous, amateurish organ intro, the requisite scowl and a rather nifty organ solo that is sadly longer on spirit than on chops.

Singer/heartthrob Shields suffered a near-fatal car accident in 1969, leaving him out of commission for several years. The band soldiered on with a replacement singer to little success, eventually packing it in. Shields tried to reform the band in 1975 as the shortened Witness, but it was all in vain (and a good thing too, as that same year the name Witness Inc was appropriated by a Christian cult whose aim was inexplicably to preach the word of God to Jehovah's Witnesses). In the end Shields would stray from his own garage roots, ultimately finding more chart action with uber-wankers Streetheart during the early eighties.

('Not You Girl' can be found on 2005's Gravel Volume 2 CD on Kumquat May.)


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