Friday, 31 July 2015

DICK JENSEN "CLOUDY MORNIN' / LOVE SHACK" (1976)



Well, if you already visited this blog in the past few years, I'm sure that you noticed the huge amount of material I posted about the sadly missed Hawaiian entertainer Dick Jensen. If you stopped by frequently, you probably have also noticed that I tried to reconstruct a correct timeline of his activities and discographic releases. Chronology is something that I really care about and I always try my best to post information on these pages according to that.

As I was trying to document the end of Jensen's tenure with legendary Philadelphia International Records, after the release of his self-titled album in 1973, I had to confront myself with my most bitter enemy: lack of information.

When exactly - and why - the label dropped him? I understand that "Dick Jensen" probably wasn't very successful, and maybe the problem laid within the fact that Jensen wasn't the usual Soul singer; he ranged from Pop and Easy Listening right through to Jazz and Gospel...

But this should be considered positive, at least in my opinion: I can only dream about what he could have made when Disco break through a couple of years later, if only the label had kept on supporting him... Althought Jensen's voice was not deep and smooth as Lou Rawls', his late '70s releases come to mind.

At last, the liner notes written by Stephen SPAZ Schnee for the 2013 "Dick Jensen" CD re-release on Big Break Records came through for me, confirming that "Upon release, critics and Soul fans didn't know what to make of the album. Jensen's talent was undeniable, but the album was not what they expected from the house that Gamble & Huff had built and the project itself got lost in the confusion." Well, damn critics and Soul fans, that is a great album even forty years after his publication, how didn't you know what to make of it in 1973?!?


Dick Jensen performing at The Oceania Empire Room, December 1975

Jensen returned to Honolulu around 1974 or 1975 and quickly re-estabilished himself as a local showroom star with engagements at the Hula Hut and at the Empire Room on the Oceania Floating Restaurant; the latter was jammed night after night for eight years.

Jensen's signature number, a fanciful comic story about the Lone Ranger and Tonto in which he single-handedly created all the voices and sound effects, was always a highlight, and every bit as impressive as his singing, dancing and overall showmanship... You can catch a glimpse of this performance - and much more - in the tribute video available on YouTube.

OK, since the lack of information I mentioned above, I can only speculate from now on: what do you do if you're a first class performer, you've written new songs but you find yourself without a recording contract? For some reason Jensen thought the best option was to self-release his own fresh material on a private label created on purpose, the evocative Record Club of Honolulu.


Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. Cloudy Mornin' (Mono version) (3:41)
02. Love Shack (3:00)

Both tracks were remastered in July 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.



The "Cloudy Mornin' (Mono Version) / Love Shack" single was released sometimes in the mid '70s. I don't know the exact releases date, but I'm inclined to think that it was pressed in mid/late 1976 at the same time when the album "Giant of Hawaii" was released.

My copy of this record comes in a plain white cardboard sleeve; compared to the vinyl, the sleeve doesn't seem to be 40 years old, so I guess that at some point in time it was replaced for some reason.

No catalogue number appears on the center label, the handwritten etchings in the run-out grooves are "DICK JENSEN 'CLOUDY MORNING' MONO SIDE-1A K-9575" and "DICK JENSEN 'LOVE SHACK' SIDE-2B STEREO K-9576". On both sides there is an additional "KENDUN A" stamped etching; this means that the record was mastered at Kendun Recorders in Burbank, California.

Since the version of "Cloudy Mornin'" on Side A is mono, I guess that the single was aimed at radio promotion. Although both tracks are available (in stereo) on the album "Giant of Hawaii", I believe that this is one of the rarest Dick Jensen items in my possession: I never had the chance to see another copy up for sale since I purchased mine years ago.

For this release, Dick Jensen teamed up again with Don Costa, who already worked with him back in 1969 for the "White Hot Soul" album. According to the credit that appear on the back cover of "Giant of Hawaii", he took care about production and arrangements for his own Don Costa Productions.



As already mentioned, the version of the lovely "Cloudy Mornin'" featured on Side A is mono; the stereo version released on the album has a slighthly different title, which is the same as the one etched in the run-out grooves here: "Cloudy Morning". Furthermore, writing credits on this release are split between G. Costa, J. Slaughter and T. Wybaczynsky, while the credits on the album omits Wybaczynsky...

Anyway, these details didn't help me to find more information about the song, whose style doesn't differ much from the slower numbers that were featured a few years earlier on the "Dick Jensen" album.

The arrangement features strings, horns and chorus, and also include a touch of vibraphone and percussions; a mellow soloing guitar is nicely placed behind Jensen voice during the three verses, and all the crescendos are just in the right place. This is a classy track that deserved a place in the charts rather than just a place in my heart, what do you think?

On Side B we find "Love Shack", which - of course - has nothing to do with the B-52's song of the same name... The song is credited to Jensen himself and it seems to arouse derision among other reviewers.

I understand that the main reason for this is the jumpsuit that Jensen is wearing on the cover of the album, but let's give credit where credit is due: wouldn't the world be worse without little songs like this? This is one of the first Jensen songs I ever listened and it's just adorable, in my opinion.


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy "Cloudy Mornin' (Mono version) and "Love Shack"!






More information about Dick Jensen is available here:

http://archives.starbulletin.com/2006/06/22/news/story02.html

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2006/Jun/22/il/FP606220304.html

http://www.oahuislandnews.com/May05/Home.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Jensen

I'm currently compiling a Dick Jensen biography, the first part of this work-in-progress covers the period 1942-1972 and is available here.

I'm also trying to compile a Dick Jensen exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

Last but not least, I'm also trying to build a collection of Dick Jensen pictures and memorabilia, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Dick Jensen on this blog are available here.


I will post more Dick Jensen stuff in the next months, if you have any other useful information about him and his releases or if you spot any dead links, just get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

PANCY LAU (劉鳳屏) "你幾時回家" (1969)



Pancy Lau (Lau Fung Ping, 劉鳳屏 or 刘鳳屏, also referred to as Liu Feng Ping) was born sometimes in the late 40s / early 50s in a family of musicians; her father Lau Bak Lok (劉伯樂) - also known as Tin Ngai (天涯) - was a well-known Cantonese Opera Star. He was her very first music teacher, and guided her through the entertainment world.

Her career started when she was around 8 or 9 years old singing Cantonese Opera. As a teenager she transitioned to singing songs she enjoyed: Pop music. During the early 60s she participated two times in the Sing Tao Daily Singing Competition in Hong Kong with no significant results. In 1965 at last she won the Mandarin section of the 6th edition of the contest with the song "三年" (Three Years). Upon winning the competition, she became a resident singer at the prestigious Golden Crown Night Club (金冠).

Television Broadcasts Limited (電視廣播有限公司), commonly known as TVB, commenced broadcasting in Hong Kong on 19 November 1967. Pancy Lau was one of the first musical artists who participated in the popular show "歡樂今宵" (Enjoy Yourself Tonight), which was the longest running variety show in Hong Kong's television history.

In 1968 Fung Hang Records released her debut album entitled "My Heart Is Beating - 我的心蹦蹦跳". The album was the first in a long series of recordings that continued for more than fifteen years.

Following two EPs entitled "水長流" ("Water Flows Long") and "山前山後百花开" ("When the Flowers Bloom On Mount Qian Shan"), Pancy Lau's second album was finally published in late 1969. "快回頭望一望" ("Quickly Turn Around and Look"), contained twelve songs, including the eight tracks already released on her previous EPs.

The record was a huge success with no less than four editions published - and sometimes also bootlegged - by different labels in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan. At the time, a lot of popular music was coming from being featured on television or were theme songs from television drama series. The album, however, did not need any push from the media to become an instant hit, as it contained enough fresh material to estabilish itself as a modern classic.

It's not easy to come up with an exact chronology of Pancy Lau's early output because in a few years she released many records and none of them includes a release date... I easily guess that FHEP1007 "你幾時回家" (When Will You Come Home?), the subject of this post, was released after FHEP1001, but I'm not sure if the year was 1969 or 1970... As a matter of fact, all the four songs on the EP were also included on Pancy's third album, "劉鳳屏之歌" (Pancy Lau's Songs), released by New Wave Record Co. (新風) in 1970...

The text above is mostly based on this original feature that our friend Brian was kind enough to translate for us, THANK YOU! For a more detailed biography of Pancy Lau, please have a look at this other post of mine: "The Very Best of Pancy Lau Volume 1 [1968-70]".




Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. 你幾時回家 (1:42)
02. 天上人間 (2:48)
03. 磁性的迷惑 (2:27)
04. 一吻定情 (2:29)

All tracks were remastered from vinyl in July 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files; both formats include scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments for the download links.



Here's what I discovered searching information about the songs included on this EP:

Side A begins with the happy vibes of "你幾時回家" (When Will You Come Home?). Since I wasn't able to find much about this song, I speculate that it is an original composition; I patiently wait for someone who can shed light about this... The song was covered by 周玲寶 (Chow Ling Po) and 太陽神樂隊 (The Apollo), which is also supposed to be the backing band on all the track featured on this release.

Compared to the previous number, "天上人間" (Heaven on Earth) seems to be more linked to a traditional form, but once again I couldn't find any relevant information about it... This post is getting annoying, isn't it...?

...uhm, the first track on offer on Side B is entitled "磁性的迷惑" (Magnetic Seduction) and was previously performed by 姚蘇蓉 (Yao Su Rong) in a 1969 movie whose title eludes me... Once there used to be a clip on YouTube to testify it, but now it's gone so you must take my word for it.

As I already wrote in this other post, "一吻定情" (One Kiss To Mark Our Love) is my favourite Pancy Lau song for sure: the arrangement is simply marvellous, probably the grooviest Far-East track I happened to listen ever! The original version was a Japanese song recorded by singer / actor 橋 幸夫 (Yukio Hashi) in 1964. 黃菱 (Wong Ling) performed the original Mandarin version in 1967.




The following clips offer a preview of the remastered single, enjoy the title track "一吻定情" (One Kiss To Mark Our Love) and "你幾時回家" (When Will You Come Home?)!






More information about Pancy Lau is available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Hong_Kong

http://home.ied.edu.hk/~hkpop/music/hkpophistory.html

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dk_gilbert/sets/72157608139056712/

http://www.goldenage.hk/b5/ga/ga_article.php?article_id=1079

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUIeOiDudhg&feature=related

http://baike.baidu.com/view/5637119.htm

http://www.vinylparadise.com/4pop_can/1/066LFP0A.htm

http://www.inkui.com/a1/A/A4A8B8CB7ABE6FF6C1CF_a.html

http://robokon.orgfree.com/5080/5080_LauFungPing.htm

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/%E5%8A%89%E9%B3%B3%E5%B1%8F

I'm currently trying to compile a Pancy Lau exhaustive discography, my work-in-progress is available here.

All my posts dedicated to Pancy Lau on this blog are available here.



In the next months I will post more Hong Kong/Taiwan/Singapore/etc. Pop/Instrumental records released in the late-60s / mid-70s. As usual, I would like to provide information about these releases and their authors.

Unfortunately the Internet doesn't offer much information - written in English - about these artists and this is the reason why I need help: if you can translate from Chinese to English please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you so much!

It's been difficult to obtain these vinyls, some are not in the best conditions and I'm currently working hard to properly master them. It seems that these artists and their music are poorly known in the West, of course it's a real pity because they made stunning releases: I'd like to share them with you with a proper presentation, hope that someone will be able to help.

Friday, 10 July 2015

TAMIKO JONES "TAMIKO" (1968)

In my loneliness
when you're gone and I'm all by myself
I need your caress
I just think of you
and the thought of you holding me near
makes my loneliness soon disappear

Though you're far away
I have only to close my eyes and you are back to stay
I just close my eyes
and the sadness that missing you brings
soon is gone and this heart of mine sings

Yes I love you so
and that for me is all I need to know
I will wait for you
till the sun falls from out of the sky
for what else can I do
I will wait for you
meditating how sweet life will be
when you come back to me


[from the lyrics of "Meditation"]



Barbara Tamiko Ferguson was born in 1945, one of ten children, in Kyle, West Virginia, USA.

So exotic in her features, ethnically she might be described as multi-racial: her father was an African-American and her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Arma Dalton - who used to live in Charleston - was partly of Japanese descent. Mrs. Dalton's parents, now deceased, were nisei. Because of her Japanese background, Mrs. Dalton at one time lived in a federal internment camp on the West Coast during World War II.

«My mother married a white man of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and on my maternal grandfather's side there is Cherokee Indian blood. So, racially at least I'm really mixed up. Like the rest of my family I consider myself a Negro [1]

The extreme versatility of Tamiko's singing is readily appreciated in considering her own musical background. She was raised in Detroit and, while working as a secretary, she auditioned for a talent agency and made her professional debut in 1961 at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit, a room that earlier showcased such talents as Johnnie Ray and Della Reese:

«I got that job strictly on nerve, I decided one day I wanted to be a singer. Though my repertoire consisted of only one song, "Goody, Goody", I got an audition through an agent with Maurice King, who led the orchestra at the Flame Show Bar. I was hired on the spot for a one-week engagement, but stayed six months.» [1]



During that first six-month engagement, she expanded her repertoire considerably under Maurice King's guidance and improved her showmanship. She developed a style of her own, though she never learned to read music. She describes such style as "jazz-bop", which is a unique styling compounded of pop songs on a jazz base:

«I depend on my ear, I think God gave me a gift for music which I express through my voice. When I first started out, I used to get so scared my knees would knock. The more I sing the more confident I feel, but I still get a little nervous on an opening night.» [1]

She began her recording career on the Checker label in 1963; her first release, credited simply as Timiko, was the happy-go-lucky song "Is It a Sin?" written by Richard "Popcorn" Wylie backed with "The Boy For Me" written by Robert Bateman on the flip side.

By 1964, Timiko became Tamiko and she relocated to the Atco Records imprint releasing the single "Don't Laugh If I Cry at Your Party" backed with "Rhapsody". Both tracks were also released in France as side A of a 7" split EP coupled with two songs by Angela Martin on side B.


Tamiko Jones as pictured on the cover of the French 7" split EP shared with Angela Martin, circa 1963-64

In July 1966 she briefly moved to the Golden World label and released her third single offering "I'm Spellbound" on side A and "Am I Glad Now" on side B. The single was produced by Gene Redd who wrote the tunes along with Rose Marie McCoy, Jimmy Crosby and a certain Mike Jones.

During the same year Tamiko also appeared as an extra in a few movies, namely "Penelope", "You're a Big Boy Now" and "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying":

«Acting is a very exciting and stimulating outlet for my artistic energies. I love to act and want to become an expert at it. My greatest ambition is to appear in a Broadway musical. But singing is my main love. I'll never give that up, because it gives me a chance to express myself fully and freely.» [1]

Anyway, let's take a step back: after the six months at the Flame Show Bar, Tamiko began touring the East Coast and Midwest, including stints on the Playboy circuit, the Catskill Mountains and the Carribean area, before getting her first national exposure on the Tonight Show in 1965. Later she performed on the Johnny Carson Show several times as well as on the Merv Griffin and Joey Bishop programs...


Tamiko Jones, publicity shot for the "A Man and a Woman" single, 1966

Tamiko's career saw some elevation when she signed with Atlantic in late 1966. She teamed up with label mate Herbie Mann and released a single offering "A Man and a Woman", the theme song from the film of the same name composed by Francis Lai and Pierre Barouh, backed with "Sidewinder", a composition by Lee Morgan which has become a jazz standard nowadays.

Many different versions of "A Man and a Woman" were recorded around this time by different artists, but only the Jones / Mann rendition made the best-selling charts.

«The first Herbie Mann / Tamiko Jones collaboration was a brilliant rendition of the attractive title tune from the French movie "A Man and a Woman". That recording, released in the fall of 1966, helped make "A Man and a Woman" one of the most popular movie themes of the year. The union of Herbie Mann and Tamiko Jones started almost fortuitously at the Atlantic Recording Studios in New York. Herbie heard Tamiko singing in the studio one afternoon and was so taken by her warm, sensuous jazz-pop styling that he stayed throughout her entire rehearsal. When it was over he asked if she would like to record with him.» [2]


Tamiko Jones, press / publicity photo, circa 1966-67

The album was recorded in Rio de Janeiro during three sessions between September and December 1966, and was published by Atlantic in February 1967. It consists of ten songs with musical backgrounds provided by both the Cannonball Adderley Trio and Herbie Mann's Band, mostly arranged by Joe Zawinul and Jimmy Wisner.

One more single was culled from the album, with side A offering a cover of The Beatles' "Day Tripper" paired on the flip side with "A Good Thing (Is Hard To Come By)", a Tamiko's own composition.

By the way, "A Mann and a Woman" was re-released on CD in Japan sometimes in late 2013, and at the time of writing it is still available on major retailers as an import at a fair decent price, don't let it escape you!


Tamiko Jones on the cover of Jet magazine, March 1967

A few months after the successful release of "A Mann and a Woman", Tamiko was signed by Jimmy Wisner's new label December Records. As far as I know, the label didn't last long and its output consisted mostly of the Tamiko Jones releases and a few more items...

The first Tamiko's single on the label was released in September, and offered her rendition of "You Only Live Twice", the theme song to the James Bond movie of the same name, coupled with a cover of Aretha Franklin's "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream".

Another single followed towards the end of the year; Side A featured a cover of the Bacharach-David tune "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", originally performed by Dionne Warwick, while Side B offered the exclusive "Pearl", a song written by Tamiko herself and Wisner.

Two more singles were released as promotional items but were not distributed to the public; the first one included "Live For Life", an English adptation of the song originally written by Francis Lai for the soundtrack of the French movie "Vivre pour vivre", coupled with "You Only Live Twice" on the flip side, while the second featured "Someone To Light Up My Life" and "Where Do I Go From Here".

Smartly arranged with a Bossa Nova flavour, probably as an attempt to repeat the exploit of "A Mann and a Woman", the "Tamiko" album was released on December Records in February 1968.


With Ed McMhon and Joey Bishop, 1967

Sources:

[1] from a feature/interview published on "Jet" magazine, March 1967

[2] from the "A Mann and a Woman" LP liner notes written by Bob Rolontz, 1967

[3] from the "I'll Be Anything For You" LP liner notes written by Peter J. Levinson, 1968


"Tamiko" contains the following tracks:

01. Someone To Light Up My Life (2:48)
02. You Only Live Twice (2:49)
03. The Folks Who Live On the Hill (2:58)
04. Only Yesterday (2:40)
05. Meditation (3:43)
06. Don't Go Breaking My Heart (3:02)
07. Where Do I Go From Here (2:41)
08. Don't Let Me Lose This Dream (2:33)
09. How Can I Leave You (2:07)
10. Live For Life (2:47)
11. That's Life (3:05)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in July 2015 and are available in FLAC lossless format or high-quality 320 Kbps MP3 files, both formats include restored and printable PDF artwork.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download links.



The album begins with the light Bossa Nova rhythm of "Someone To Light Up My Life", an English rendition of "Se Todos Fossem Iguais A Você", a song written in 1956 by Antônio Carlos Jobim - with original lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes, then adapted by Gene Lees - for the play "Orfeu da Conceição".

"You Only Live Twice" is the theme song to the 1967 James Bond movie of the same name. Music was written by veteran James Bond composer John Barry, with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. The original version is considered to be one of the best James Bond theme songs, and has become one of Nancy Sinatra's best known hits. The song has been extensively covered by other artists and Tamiko's version is particularly sweet to my ears; unsurprisingly it was choose as the album's first single.

The jazzy "The Folks Who Live On the Hill" is a popular song composed by Jerome Kern, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It was first performed by Irene Dunne in the 1937 movie "High, Wide and Handsome". I must admit that this is my least favourite track on "Tamiko"...

"Only Yesterday" is an original composition by Jimmy Wisner, producer and arranger of the album - as well as owner of December Records - and already made its apparition just one year earlier on the "A Mann and a Woman" album... I guess that the reason for including it here again is just connected with royalties, but anyway... In my opinion this more lively version is superior to the original, and maybe the author was just trying to popularise it.

Side A ends with my favourite number of the album, "Meditation" ("Meditação" in Portuguese), which was composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim and Newton Mendonça. With English lyrics by Norman Gimbel, it was successfully included on the "Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim" album in 1967. If I had to choose a track to represent the album, then I would not hesitate for a second: this is pure class!



Side B starts with Tamiko's beautiful rendition of "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"; this Bacharach-David song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick for her 1965 album "Here I Am". According to AllMusic, it is "one of Burt Bacharach's most subtle, effervescent grooves ever". The song was aptly choose as the second single excerpted from the album; it was backed with "Pearl", an exclusive number which I truly hope to present here sometimes in the future as soon as I find a decent copy.

"Where Do I Go From Here" is another song penned by Jimmy Wisner which, according to my search, seems to have been recorded exclusively by Tamiko and no other singer... As the lesser-known track on the album, along with "How Can I Leave You", it manage just fine to keep quality high and a generally relaxed atmosphere.

"Don't Let Me Loose This Dream" was written by Aretha Franklin and Ted White, her first husband and manager. The song was originally included on Aretha's 1967 masterpiece "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You". This is the most lively piece on "Tamiko" for sure; it feature an uptempo rhythm and it even includes a saxophone solo... It was included on the flip side of the "You Only Live Twice" single. Here'a link to the original for your reference.

"How Can I Leave You" is a song by American drummer, percussionist and vibraphonist George Devens; as a musician he has been featured on countless releases from the early '60s on, and his incomplete credit list is quite impressive. His small contribution to this album should not be left unnoticed.

"Live For Live" was written by French composer Francis Lai as the main theme for the 1967 movie "Vivre pour vivre". Originally an instrumental, it was given English lyrics by Norman Gimbel.

"Tamiko" ends with a cover of the popular "That's Life", a song written by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon whose most famous version was recorded by Frank Sinatra for his 1966 album of the same name.


Tamiko Jones as she appears on the cover of "Tamiko", circa late 1967

Here's the few credits printed on the back sleeve of "Tamiko":

A Jimmy Wisner production.

Arranged and conducted by Jimmy Wisner, except "Someone To Light Up My Life", "Only Yesterday", "Meditation", "Where Do I Go From Here" and "That's Life" arranged and conducted by Pete Dino.

Recorded at Bell Sound Studios, New York City.

Engineers: Harry Yarmarck and Phil Macey

Photos and design: Mark Roth


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album; for this purpose I chose my favourite tracks: "You Only Live Twice", "Meditation", "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" and "Don't Let Me Lose This Dream", enjoy!










More information about Tamiko Jones is available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamiko_Jones

http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/Tamiko%20Jones.html

http://supersoulsisters.blogspot.com/2009/11/tamiko-jones-collection-1963-1986.html

http://www.discogs.com/artist/8483-Tamiko-Jones

http://soulfuldetroit.com/showthread.php?484-Tamiko-Jones


If you have any other useful information about the Tamiko Jones and "Tamiko" - especially corrections and improvements to this post - or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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