"Tobacco Road" is a tough, nasty blues song that sounds as if it could have been written by a weathered Delta bluesman in the 1920s. However, it was in fact written by a country-oriented songwriter more known for lightweight ditties along the lines of George Hamilton IV's "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" and the Everly Brothers' "Ebony Eyes," as well as the weird "Indian Reservation," eventually a huge hit for Paul Revere & the Raiders. It took the Nashville Teens to make "Tobacco Road" into an international hit in 1964, and though it was their only international hit, it was a classic that reinterpreted the Loudermilk composition from the ground up. As originally recorded by Loudermilk on a 1960 single, "Tobacco Road" was a sparsely arranged tale of rural poverty with a thumping beat played on low guitar strings, connected by a lighter and jazzier bridge, and occasionally decorated by bluesy guitar figures. Loudermilk's voice wasn't too forceful, though, and a remake on his 1962 12 Sides of album was far inferior and far too jaunty. Somehow the song made its way to the Nashville Teens, who transformed it into a grinding blues-rocker that made the British Top Ten and the American Top Twenty. The Nashville Teens' version starts with a downright evil blast of curling blues-rock guitar and barroom piano. The thumping beat and ominous ascending two-chord riff is drawn out exponentially on the verses, both by virtue of percussion that pounds like a chain gang hammer and a dual lead vocal. That lead vocal is especially effective at the end of the verses, when all the instruments cease and the pair of singers moan in forlorn gospel-like tones, drawing out the word "road" to many syllables. The bridge is an effective contrast to the verses, changing into an upbeat boogie as the group declares their love for "Tobacco Road" despite all its dust and dirt, as it's their home. All the instruments drop out again at the end of the verse for the vocalists to sing-chant "Tobacco Road," the cue for the creepy riff that started the track to re-enter. John Hawken (later of Renaissance) unleashes a superb boogie piano solo in the instrumental break, and the song ends on an exciting note after another run through the bridge, leading back to the main riff and a thumping heartbeat rhythm on the fade. The Nashville Teens never again came close to the brilliance of "Tobacco Road," though they did record a couple of other Loudermilk songs for singles ("Google Eye" and "The Little Bird"). It was far from the last time the public heard "Tobacco Road," however, as the song was covered many times in the ensuing years. Some of the most notable versions include ones by the Jefferson Airplane, who put a folk-rockish one on their first album; the Blues Magoos, who gave it a berserk psychedelic treatment; Chicago bluesman Junior Wells; and Lou Rawls, who did a soulful blues-jazz version as the title track of a 1963 LP, prior to the Nashville Teens' cover.