Tuesday, 31 October 2017

DICK JENSEN "THE WRITER" (1979)

Oh me, oh me
I hate the morning after the night before
I know I can't take it anymore
I know I've said it once or twice before
I hate the morning after the night before

These bloodshot eyes now realize
those Mai Tais were the devil in disguise
If I could only find a way to stop this pile-driving pain
I promise that I'd never, ever, do it again
Do it again, do it again

Do it again, do it again
Go ahead, do it again

Oh me, oh me
I hate the morning after the night before
I know I can't take it anymore
I know I've said it once or twice before
I hate the morning after the night before

I feel the crutch of Planter's Punch
Martinis are no substitute for lunch
If I could only find a way to get this pain to leave my brain
I promise that I'd never, ever, do it again
Do it again, do it again
Do it again

Do it again, do it again
C'mon, do it again

Oh me, oh me
I should have just stayed in bed...


[from the lyrics of "I Hate the Morning (After the Night Before)"]



Here we are at last, very close to the end of the loooong series of posts I dedicated to Dick Jensen since October 2011. A lot of visitors of this blog have been requesting "The Writer" so many times, but two facts prevented me from offering it until now.

First of all I had to find a decent copy of the album and that hasn't been an easy task, believe me. This record is usually quite expensive on the second-hand market and most of the copies come with an autograph / dedication on the front or back cover, and the cover itself often suffer from ring wear...

At last, some three years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a sealed and untouched beautiful copy, but another factor delayed the publication of this post: my love/obsession for Chronology. If you're a recurring visitor of this blog I'm sure that you noticed that it is something I really care about and I always try my best to post according to that.

So, my apologies to all who have been requesting this album for so long: if you've been patient until now, I am sure that you will be satisfied with my digitization and remastering of such a precious gem.

Next in line in the following months will be the "Honolulu Girls / On the Beach" 7" single, which was released in the early '80s. I've always thought that it was the last Dick Jensen music release but I was wrong: only a few months ago I discovered with my greatest surprise that in 1985 he also released "True Spirit of Aloha", a religious album which is mentioned on a couple of Hawaiian websites.

Unfortunately I never had a chance to see a copy available for sale and I don't even know how the cover looks like... Since I am not a religious person I must admit that I am not particularly interested into it, but the parasitic completist that lives inside of me will never be satisfied until he's able to buy a copy. If you read these lines and can help him, I'll be glad to forward him your message... (8-)

Ok, enough said, here come the usual biographical notes. If you enjoy this post (...and the album...) don't forget to let me know about it in the comment section, thank you!



Jensen was a live musical performer of the Rhythm and Blues, Soul, and Gospel genres. A native Hawaiian athletic song stylist and a prime mover of nightclub shows inspired by Little Richard, whose "white hot soul" electrified audiences with his belting voice and imposing physical performances.

Jensen earned the sobriquet "The Giant" because of his tall stature, but he had a talent to match that nickname. His signature on-stage style incorporated strenuous dance moves similar to those of Jackie Wilson; he was noted for his glide - a proto-Moonwalk - well before Michael Jackson made it fashionable; just have a look at this clip on YouTube.

Jensen's music career began in 1959 and during the next fifteen years he moved back and forth between the Continental U.S. and Hawaii several times. He soon established himself as a singer in the Islands and in 1965 he got a contract with Loma Records.

During the late '60s / early '70 he often performed at several hotels and casinos and guested on many TV shows. His first album, entitled "White Hot Soul" (...available here...) was released in late 1969.

His potential as a national mainstream recording artist resulted in a contract with Philadelphia International, one of the top Soul music labels of the early 1970s. His "Dick Jensen" album was released in early 1973, but unfortunately sales were low and Jensen's tenure with the legendary label was very short...

For a detailed biography of Dick Jensen covering his career up till the early '70s please have a look at this other post of mine: "Dick Jensen - An Entertainer Without a Hit Record (Part 1, 1942-1972)".


Dick Jensen as he appears on the back cover of "The Writer"

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.

So, 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.

Produced and arranged by Don Costa for his Don Costa Productions Inc., "Giant of Hawaii" (...available here...) was released sometimes in mid/late 1976. Around the same time, a single containing two cuts from the album, namely a mono version of "Cloudy Mornin'" on Side A and a stereo version of "Love Shack" on the flipside, also appeared. The single, whish was probably aimed at radio promotion and rarely shows up for sale nowadays, is available here.

In 1978 Jensen had a small part in a TV movie entitled "The Islander". I desperately tried to find a copy of this movie or at least more information about it, but all I could come up with is this short synopsis.

During 1979 Jensen worked on a new album with Bartolome 'Bart' Bascone, a veteran Island musician, conductor, composer and arranger best known for his novelty song "Who Is the Lolo (Who Stole My Pakalolo)", which Don Ho recorded and made a radio hit in 1977. On a side note, Bascone also released two albums of his own compositions which are quite worth investigating... But now let's move on to "The Writer".


"The Writer" contains the following tracks:

01. I Hate the Morning (After the Night Before) (3:24)
02. You Keep Turning Me On (3:06)
03. Windward Lady (3:32)
04. Wanna Get in Your Pants (6:12)
05. Our Last Aloha (5:19)
06. Better Slow Down (3:28)
07. Lady Love (3:28)
08. Kong Chiki Kong (3:50)

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in October 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

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



"The Writer" was probably released sometimes in late 1979 on Giant Records, which I strongly suspect was nothing else but another one-off label created by Dick Jensen, just like the previous Record Club of Honolulu. I lean toward the late 1979 release date because on the spine is written "(C) 1979 Giant Records", even if the catalogue number assigned to this album is GRS 1980. My opinion is that the album was printed at the end of 1979 but it was given that catalogue number to make it look more fresh when it was first marketed during the next months.

The record comes in a sober black and white sleeve. Both on the front and back, Jensen is portrayed with an acoustic guitar, wearing comfortable light-coloured clothes and sandals. The image on the front cover gives a sense of calmness and looks like it was printed on a canvas; more probably it is not a photograph, but a sketch based on a photograph or something like that. In the picture on the back cover we notice that Jensen is wearing a medallion. It looks like a lion, but since he was born under the Aries sign it could also be a ram. Whatever it is, I guess it was much important to him since it can be seen in many other pictures that date back to the late '60s, a lucky charm maybe...

The cover is in deep contrast with the one featured three years earlier on the previous LP. Even the choice of the album title looks more meditative. The message that I perceive is that, due to the fact that at the time Jensen was widely acknowledged both as a singer and a performer, he also wanted to be recognised as an author. Of course this is my personal interpretation and I could be completely wrong. As a matter of fact, the album featured almost solely songs that he had written (seven out of eight) and this was happening for the first time in a long career.

Anyway, including a contagious Disco track and a few other lively Soul and Funk numbers, the album is not completely laid-back as the cover would suggest... Just like for the previous "Giant of Hawaii", most of the copies of "The Writer" that are usually put up for sale on eBay or similar websites are signed with a big marker by Jensen himself and often come with dedications. This undoubtedly means that most copies of the album were sold directly to people at his live shows as a souvenir of the performance: Jensen probably took the time to have a word with the audience and sign his records after the show...


Dick Jensen 1969/1979: the medallion is still the same...

Side 1 opens with "I Hate the Morning (After the Night Before)", whose lyrics you can read at the top of the post. It is a simple number but it is probably significant for what concerns Jensen's habits at the time. Almost two decades in the show-business were starting to take their toll and The Giant was caught in between the need to lead a quieter existence and the temptations of nightlife.

"You Keep Turning Me On" is one of the most fascinating tracks on the album, and a work of class for sure. The gentle percussion underlayer keep the rhythm moving, while the string machine creates a compelling atmosphere. The phased female backing vocal are just the icing on the cake and there's not a single note too much in this perfect piece, great!

We keep sailing along with "Windward Lady", another piece that wouldn't have made a poor showing on an album that Jensen could have released on Philadelphia International if they didn't decide to drop him. As I wrote elsewhere, I can only imagine what he could have done if only the label had kept on supporting him. Although Jensen's voice was not deep and smooth as Lou Rawls', his late '70s releases come to mind. Here's the lyrics to this beautiful song which I'm pretty sure Jensen dedicated to his wife at that time:

Windward lady, she's a special lady
and she never lets me down
Windward lady, she's a special lady
with both feet on the ground

We leave two lives so differently
me and my music, her and the family
She keeps them strong, I sing my songs
that lady does no wrong

Windward lady, she's a special lady
and she never lets me down
Windward lady, she's a special lady
with both feet on the ground

Some days we share with family and friends
breaking bread together again
After all it is said and done
she's still number one

Windward lady, she's a special lady
and the world should know
she's the one, she's the only one
and I love her, and I love her so
I love her so, I love her so
I love her so, I love her so

She's a windward lady, she's a special lady
she's a windward lady, she's a special lady


"Wanna Get in Your Pants", the last track on Side 1 seems to have been recorded - or at least mixed - in a completely different manner than the rest of the album. The original mix was almost mono compared to the other tracks and I had to invest a lot of energies and time to come up with a version that is more coherent with them. Maybe a 12" single has been taken in consideration at a certain point, who knows... Anyway, I guess that the title says it all, this is a commercial Disco affair with repetitive and explicit lyrics that also offers long instrumental parts and breaks.



Side 2 starts with "Our Last Aloha", which is the only song included on the album that was not penned by Jensen himself. The music and lyrics for this number were written by Bart Bascone, who also co-produced "The Writer". The song was originally included on Bascone's debut LP entitled "Makapuu", which nowadays has become such a rarity. Luckily enough, South Korean label Big Pink Music has re-issued the album on CD in 2013 and copies can still be found for a decent price. For his version, Jensen has slightly changed some lines and has also added a short rappin' à la Isaac Hayes... Here's the lyrics of this song:

Aloha means 'I love you'
Aloha also means 'Goodbye'

Baby, I lost it a long time ago
that love I had for you
but I found the courage to tell you how I feel
and say what is really real

Maybe I should have left you all by yourself
to settle your mind without me
Too many times I just followed you around
swallowed all the pride I had

Baby, this is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha
the feeling has finally died

I treasured everything about you
'cause loving you, loving you, is all I ever knew
But baby, you just kept pushing me away
pushing me, until all I have to say is goodbye

This is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha
the feeling has finally died

Aloha
goodbye, goodbye
the feeling has finally died

Oh, this is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha
that feeling has finally died

This is our last aloha
this is our last goodbye
this is our last aloha


The album proceeds with "Better Slow Down", a song which is arranged and played in an almost Funky manner, with slapped bass and Clavinet in the background, sort of... I am not sure if I got the lyrics' meaning right - Jensen's voice is not that clear in this piece - but it may be about not running too fast in a new relationship or the need of a breath of air during a sexual intercourse which might end too soon or... who knows!

Once again, with "Lady Love" I can't help but think about the albums that Lou Rawls cut with Philadelphia International during the same period that Jensen self-released "Giant of Hawaii" and "The Writer". There's no justice in this world... Interestingly enough, a song with the same title was recorded by Rawls himself a couple of years earlier, uhm... Could it be that Jensen was somehow inspired by Rawls' original? Who knows... and who cares, because this is another example of perfection and for sure one of my favourites from the album. One of the best songs that The Giant has ever recorded and produced during his career, full stop.

The album closes with "Kong Chiki Kong", a piece which - according to the original liner notes - was inspired by Sammy Davis, Jr. who was befriended by Jensen back in the days of his tenure in Vegas during the late '60s / early '70s. The song is an uptempo number which feature the only electric guitar solo on the album.

To end this post, here's the original credits and personnel list as they're printed on the back cover of "The Writer":

Music and words by Dick Jensen, except "Our Last Aloha" by Bart Bascone.

Musicians include:
Kata Maduli - bass
John Rapoza - guitar
Glenn Goto - keyboards
Mike Kennedy - drums
Vernon Kalama - percussions

(Backing vocals and horn section are uncredited...)

Produced by Dick Jensen.
Co-produced by Bart Bascone.

Thanks to Sammy Davis, Jr. for inspiring "Kong Chiki Kong" and to Don Costa for the thought.

Thanks to my lovely wife, Judy, for giving me my space to do this album.


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered album, enjoy!



















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

https://web.archive.org/web/20150905205717/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.



If you have any other useful information about 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!


4 comments:

  1. DOWNLOAD LINK

    https://mega.nz/#!Zd8...

    If you download this file please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know if the link is broken and I'll do my best to quickly fix it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I worked as a cashier at the Copa in NYC for one week. Dick Jensen was the act. I couldn't see him, but I could hear him singing "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head",

    ReplyDelete
  3. This album is soooooo good! Track 5 goes straight to the heart.

    Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanx for all of the Dick Jensen posts. And for your killer research. A lot of work, and I want to say it's appreciated by me.

    ReplyDelete

Be nice, keep it clean, stay on topic, no spam, thank you!!!

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