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:
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!