Thursday, 31 July 2014


Barbara Tamiko Ferguson was born in 1945, one of ten children, in Kyle, West Virginia, USA. Her father was an African-American and her maternal grandmother was partly of Japanese descent.

«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

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.»

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.»

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

Tamiko began her recording career as Timiko on the Checker label in 1963; her first release - the subject of this short post - 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. interestingly reports that «Robert Bateman was dating Timiko Jones and wrote "The Boy For Me", which she recorded around March 1963. The song was sold to the Chess brothers in Chicago, who put it out on their subsidiary label, Checker. It might have become a hit if they had opted to switch the A-side to "Is It A Sin", which is a much catchier tune - courtesy of Popcorn Wylie. As it is, the disc seems not to have made it beyond the DJ-copy stage.»

Despite what is mentioned above, the record was officially released in stereo and here you can see a picture of it showcasing brown labels. The record in my possession is a monoaural promo version which sadly came with no cover when I purchased it; here you can see the same record in a Chess Group company sleeve. As far as I know, "Is It a Sin" is placed on Side A and "The Boy For Me" fills Side B.

All Tamiko Jones' quotes in this post are taken from a feature/interview published on "Jet" magazine in March 1967. A more detailed biography is available in this other post of mine.

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

01. Is it a Sin (2:36)
02. The Boy For Me (2:38)

Both tracks were remastered in July 2014 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.

...I'm not sure if this picture belongs to the time when the single was released, but anyway, the original image is available here...

The following videos offer a preview of the remastered single, enjoy "Is It a Sin" and "The Boy For Me"!

More information about Tamiko Jones is available here:

If you have any other useful information concerning 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!

Saturday, 26 July 2014


Dick Jensen was one of the first artists to sign with the now-legendary Philadelphia International Records label in 1971. Nowadays it seems that he had little in common with the other artists which made the label famous later on, but at the time - once you heard the power and soul in his vocal delivery - it all made perfect sense. And with the label main men Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff behind the scenes, it seemed as if Dick Jensen had finally found the perfect home for his energetic style of Soul.

Like many of the label's acts, Jensen received musical assistance from PIR's house band, the illustrious MFSB. The band on the recording sessions for his self-titled album featured Ronnie Baker (bass), Larry Washington (congas, bongos), Earl Young (drums), Lenny Pakula (organ), Leon Huff (piano), Vincent Montana (vibraphone) and guitarists Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers and TJ Tindall. Backing vocals were provided by Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Evette Benton.

Along with arrangements by Bobby Martin, Vince Montana and Norman Harris, and production by Bunny Sigler, Thom Bell and Gamble & Huff themselves (who also handled a majority of the songwriting) "Dick Jensen", released in February 1973, was as smooth and slick as anything else the label had released but was far more Pop-oriented.

Unfortunately, upon release, critics and Soul fans didn't know what to make of it. 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 was lost in the confusion. More information about the album are available here and here, now let's go back to May 1971 when "Going Up On the Mountain / Three Cheers For Love" was released...

An autographed Dick Jensen picture taken during a 1970 live performance

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

01. Going Up On the Mountain (Mono Version) (2:53)
02. Three Cheers For Love (Mono Version) (3:28)

Both tracks were remastered in July 2014 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.

"Going Up On the Mountain / Three Cheers To Love" was released by Philadelphia International Records as one of their fourth single, with catalogue number ZS7 3504. The copy I own is a promotional item for radio stations and contains mono versions of the tracks; I guess that the official release was stereo, but I'm not sure about it...

The single came in a PIR company sleeve and was re-released later by Epic in the Netherlands sometimes in 1973 with a proper cover (see here for more details); both the tracks included were written by Gamble & Huff.

The Gospel groove of "Going Up On the Mountain" is infectious and Jensen really gets into the performance, which could be an early indication of the faith he would pursue later in life. The horns and backing vocals take the song up a notch, but his fiery vocals take it to a fevered level.

"Three Cheers To Love" may fall in the Easy Listening category, but the strings and horns (arranged by Bobby Martin) and understated guitar work are definitely soulful. Jensen's vocals recall the R&B-infected side of David Clayton-Thomas and Gary Puckett mixed with the smooth delivery of Lou Rawls: he sounds comfortable, laid back and confident.

Most of the text on this page was sourced from the "Dick Jensen" reissue liner notes written by Stephen SPAZ Schnee. The CD was released by Big Break Records in 2013 and is currently the only available Jensen album, I strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this great long forgotten masterpiece!

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!

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