"Louie Louie" is a song that exists almost in spite of itself, reviled by music critics and snobs alike. It's one of those songs that nobody likes but the people, from its original incarnation as a modified cha cha by composer and R&B star of the 1950s Richard Berry to its present day status as a bar band/garage band/frat house staple. Fueled by a simplistic riff played over the standard three-chord rock & roll format, "Louie Louie" is so basic that its musical contents could be taught to a reasonably energetic cretin. By far and away the most well-known version is the one recorded by the Kingsmen in 1962, a monument to both the D.I.Y. spirit of rock & roll and crappy recording techniques. And as much and as often as this tune has been covered (with versions numbering well over 1,000, including everyone from Iggy and the Stooges to Mongo Santamaria), no one has ever successfully topped the groove of the Kingsmen's version. There are reasons for that, of course. One of them is the sound of the record itself. There are only three microphones used on the Kingsmen's recording: a ribbon mic on the bass drum, an overhead vocal mic that also picks up the majority of the band track as well, and a mic in front of Mike Mitchell's lead guitar amplifier, which is only switched on and off during his solo. The out of focus result makes for a mix that's of the one band-one noise mode, but also sports a power and wallop undeniably all its own. The second unique component of the Kingsmen is the bass line. While 99.9 percent of all bass players play the standard duh-duh-duh...duh-duh figure, give a very close listen to what Bob Nordby plays on the Kingsmen's version. Quite simply, the bass line never resolves the three-chord progression, playing a syncopated part that puts the push-pull of the ham-fisted beat into a perfect groove for dancing. This simple change in the bass line separates their version from everyone else's. Finally, there's Jack Ely's vocal. While much has been made over the years about whether or not Ely sang "dirty" lyrics on the record, he doesn't, although drummer Lynn Easton accidentally clicked his sticks together before the second verse and quite audibly yells "f*ck" in the background. But Ely's vocal, sung standing on tiptoe into the overhead boom mic, is one of the great mysteries about the record that is part of the record's charm, all sore-throat warbling that goes out of control in several places. Few records delineate rock & roll the way the Kingsmen's version of "Louie Louie" does, and while the tune has become an anthem, no subsequent cover versions top the original.