Slow Down (Larry Williams song)

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"Slow Down"
Single by Larry Williams
ReleasedMarch 1958
Format7-inch single
RecordedSeptember 11, 1957
StudioMasters Records, Hollywood, California
GenreRock and roll
Songwriter(s)Larry Williams
Larry Williams singles chronology
"Bony Moronie"
"Slow Down" / "Dizzy, Miss Lizzy"
"Hootchy-Koo" / "The Dummy"

"Slow Down" is a 24-bar blues written and performed by Larry Williams. Released as a single in 1958, it was a rhythm and blues hit that influenced the growing rock & roll movement of the time. Both "Slow Down" and the single's flip-side,"Dizzy Miss Lizzy", were covered by the Beatles in 1964 and 1965, respectively.


The song was recorded at Master Recorders, Hollywood, California, for Specialty Records on September 11, 1957. The personnel included:[1]

The Beatles rendition[edit]

"Slow Down"
Song by the Beatles
from the EP Long Tall Sally
  • June 19, 1964 (UK EP)
  • August 24, 1964 (US single)
RecordedJune 1, 1964
GenreRock and roll
Songwriter(s)Larry Williams
Producer(s)George Martin
The Beatles US chronology
"I'll Cry Instead" / "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You"
"Slow Down" / "Matchbox"
"I Feel Fine" / "She's a Woman"

The Beatles covered the song early in their career. In 1964, they recorded a version and Parlophone released it on the Long Tall Sally EP in June in the UK. In July, the song was included on the American album Something New. Capitol Records released it as a single, with "Matchbox" (also a 12-bar blues, from the Long Tall Sally EP) as the flip side. "Slow Down" reached number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is also included on the 1988 Past Masters compilation. A performance specifically recorded for broadcast by the BBC is found on the album Live at the BBC (1994).

Ian MacDonald criticised the performance as "one of the Beatles' least successful rock-and-roll covers", lacking "bottom, drive and basic cohesion" and stated that "The guitar solo is embarrassing and the sound balance a shambles". He also pointed out the edit at 1:14 whereupon the piano momentarily disappears and McCartney's bass becomes inaudible.[2] Starr can likewise be heard to lose time during the song.


In Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald notes that John Lennon played the lead guitar. The following is listed in The Beatles Bible[3][better source needed]

Other cover versions[edit]

Doug Sahm recorded one of the earliest covers of the song, with his band the Dell Kings, in 1961.

The Young Rascals released a cover of the song as the B-side of their first single, "I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore" (1965). It was also the lead-off song on their 1966 debut album release The Young Rascals, Atlantic SD 8123.

Blodwyn Pig released a cover of the song as the B-side of their single, "Same Old Story" (1970).

Led Zeppelin performed an abridged, searing hard-rock cover of the song during their June 25, 1972, concert at The Forum in Inglewood, California, as part of the medley following Whole Lotta Love. The recording is featured on the popular bootleg Burn Like a Candle but not on the officially-released album of the show, How the West Was Won.

The Jam recorded a version on their debut album, In the City (1977). It was also a regular feature of their early live sets.

Hawkwind offshoot Inner City Unit frequently covered the song at live shows. In the months prior to his death in 1980, former Tyrannosaurus Rex percussionist Steve Peregrin Took had been frequently providing guest lead vocals on the song. Took and Inner City Unit guitarist Trev Thoms and drummer Dino Ferari had previously been rehearsing the song in 1977–1978 with their band at the time, Steve Took's Horns.

The Dutch rock band Golden Earring recorded a version on their 1981 2nd Live album and also released "Slow Down" as a single.

Rory Gallagher played it live in 1982.

The Flamin' Groovies recorded several versions of the song, including a studio version during a 1986 Australian tour and a live version in Italy in 1987.

The song was covered as a part of the Backbeat soundtrack (1994) by a supergroup consisting of Dave Grohl, Dave Pirner, Thurston Moore, Mike Mills, Greg Dulli and Don Fleming (of Gumball). Grohl played drums in a live cover of the song with The Unseen.

Brian May recorded a version in 1997, intending to release an album of covers, tentatively called Heroes. He changed the nature and approach of the album, dropping the "covers" idea and focusing on his collaborations and new songs of the time. "Slow Down" survived the change and appeared on the new album, Another World, released in 1998. This version features May on vocal and lead guitar, Cozy Powell on drums, Jamie Moses on guitar, Spike Edney on keyboards and Neil Murray on bass. It was recorded on the same day as the five recorded covers of "Maybe Baby", "It's Only Make Believe" and "(Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame", all for the Heroes album. The first two tracks ended up as B-sides to various singles from the album and "Marie" was not released, though it was leaked to the public (much to May's consternation)[4] in 2006.

American rock band Zebra covered the song on their debut album, as did the King Earl Boogie Band on their live album Loaded & Live, released in 2009.

A version also appears on the joint album by Jools Holland and Tom Jones released in 2005.

The Smithereens covered it on their 2008 album, B-Sides The Beatles.[5]

The Japanese band Carol (featuring Eikichi Yazawa on vocals and bass) performed a cover quite similar to the version recorded by the Beatles, sans piano.

It was also covered by Elvis Costello, Brinsley Schwarz, the Lazy Cowgirls, Crow, Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and Alan Merrill.


  1. ^ "Larry Williams: Bad Boy The Legends of Specialty Records", Speciality Records 1989, liner notes
  2. ^ MacDonald, Ian. Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties. ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
  3. ^ "The Beatles Bible: Slow Down". Retrieved 2009-04-15.
  4. ^ "Brian's Soapbox (2 July 06)".
  5. ^ Deming, Mark. B-Sides the Beatles at AllMusic. Retrieved 27 December 2016.