Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, “Guardians Of The Galaxy” Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!
Album: On My Way (1968)
B J Thomas; Hooked In A Feeling This song was written by Mark James, who also wrote Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.” B.J. Thomas was signed to Scepter Records and had some hits with his group The Triumphs before Scepter producer Chips Moman convinced him to leave Texas and come to American Studios in Memphis, where he recorded some of the songs James wrote for his album On My Way. The first single from the album was the James-penned “The Eyes of a New York Woman,” which reached #28 in the US. The next single was “Hooked On A Feeling,” which was a big hit for Thomas but not nearly as successful as his next one, “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” which stayed at US #1 for four weeks. “Hooked” was produced by Moman with session musicians that included Tommy Cogbill (guitar) Reggie Young (guitar), Mike Leech (bass) and Buddy Emmons (drums).
Drug references were big in 1968, and this song has plenty of them, but the context is love as a drug; Thomas is “high on believin'” and will “just stay addicted” to the girl who can “turn me on.” All very innocent.
About those Oooonga Chackas:
There’s a good chance you’ve heard this song with the famous jungle chant, and it was most likely the 1974 Blue Swede version, which was featured in the Quentin Tarantino movie Reservoir Dogs. The first use of the chant in this song, however, was in the 1971 version by the English singer and Pop mogul Jonathan King, who added the Oooonga Chackas which were based on the chant in Johnny Preston’s 1959 hit “Running Bear.” King’s version was a UK hit – the only version of the song to chart there – reaching #23. Blue Swede recorded their own version with more aggressive jungle sounds in 1974, and it was a massive hit, reaching #1 in the US, Holland, Australia, and Canada. Blue Swede was a Swedish band, and they would perform the Jonathan King version in concert, getting the crowd to chant along. It went to #1 in Sweden, and according to a Rolling Stone article from 1974, a few copies made their way to the United States, where a woman in Connecticut played the song in her record store. This led to some local airplay and the song quickly spread, eventually becoming a #1 hit.
And what about Jonathan King, who put the chant on the song in 1971? King was a university student in the UK when he recorded his debut hit “Everyone’s Gone To The Moon” in 1965, which reached #4 in the UK and #17 in the US. He went on to become a successful singer, songwriter, producer (he produced the first Genesis album, From Genesis to Revelation), broadcaster and record company executive (in 1972 he formed UK Records). In November 2000 he was accused of sex attacks on boys dating back to 1970, and in January 2001, he was charged with 7 counts of assaults against underage youths. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison.
The Blue Swede version was the first #1 hit in the US by a Swedish act. It reached the top the same week ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo” and introduced themselves to an international audience. The 7-member Blue Swede had more hits in Sweden, but never again cracked the American market, even though their songs were all in English.
According to Billboard & The Mercury Records Story, the backing vocal/chant which was first used in “Running Bear,” was performed by J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) and George Jones, which in turn inspired the Blue Swede version. Jones was either co-producing for Johnny Preston or was just there, perhaps for another session.
In 1998, the Blue Swede version was used in episodes of the TV show Ally McBeal when the “Dancing Baby” appeared. As Ally got older, she would get visions of a baby who would dance to the Blue Swede version of this song, reminding her that her biological clock was ticking. Vonda Shepard recorded it for her album Songs From Ally McBeal.
The “oogachaka!” chant from Blue Swede’s version could be heard in the trailer for the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy movie during a montage of fiery action scenes, priming audiences for a superhero movie filled with incongruent ’70s hits. In the film, Chris Pratt’s character carries around a Walkman with a cassette tape his mother made for him: the Awesome Mix Vol. 1. When the Walkman is impounded and a guard listens to this song, Pratt confronts him. Even after getting zapped, Pratt remains indignant, telling the guard, “‘Hooked On A Feeling,’ Blue Swede, 1973. That song belongs to me!,” before getting another jolt as the song comes full in the mix.
The song leads off the soundtrack to the movie, which went to #1 in America, reviving this song and several others from the era.