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!

19 comments:

  1. She looks interesting, as does her bio, you posted here. Thanx... Can't wait to listen!

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  2. Thank you very much for this wonderful Album!

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  3. Thank you so much for making this LP available. (And your blog is very thoughtful. I'm so happy to have found it.)

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome VanceMan, thanks for all your kind comments!

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  4. Thanks everybody, more Tamiko music will be posted in the future, stay tuned!

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  5. Thank you very much! Your blog is amazing, I'm really happy that I found it and am very thankful for your great job.

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  6. Thanks for this Candyman, guess I found it a bit late, both links seem to have been deleted.

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  7. Just tried again...works now...looking forward to this one. I liked the one she did with Herbie Mann, let's see what this one is like.

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  8. I would like to thank you deeply for the link and the job it sure has asked from you. Thank you for the research as well.
    Greatly appreciated.
    Merci beaucoup.
    Funky Fred From France

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  9. Thank you so much!! Great blog
    Santiago,
    Greets from Argentina!

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  10. Wow amazing blog here.
    I like to ask flac link again. It's broken.
    Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for letting me know, I will reupload it in minutes, cheers!

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  11. DOWNLOAD LINKS

    FLAC: https://mega.nz/#!lZM...

    MP3: http://www.mediafire.com/download.php?cfi...

    If you download any of these files please consider leaving a comment, your feedback is important!

    Please let me know about any broken link and deleted or unavailable files: I'll do my best to quickly reupload them.

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  12. hi
    I am desperately looking for the bonus track "do it 'show me your love) that is available on the Japanese Compilation LP¨only. DO you have it and can you help me ? Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Hi David. I'm sorry, that album is still on my 'to buy' list... Rest assured that it will posted here one day, when I'm able to purchase a decent copy at a fair price.

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    2. Thank you! I'm trying to find the record too but I can't even find one copy, even in Japan! I really wonder what this song sounds like. cheers

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    3. You're welcome. Currently there is a copy for sale on Discogs, but it's a little bit expensive...

      https://www.discogs.com/sell/item/453699478

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  13. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS, SUCH THE PLETHORA OF INFORMATION about her! I will check out the rest of your site, brother. I been looking into her more so lately because i just found some sheet music of her stuff.

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

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