Amoeblog

Happy 90th birthday Ken Nordine!!

Posted by Whitmore, April 13, 2010 11:11pm | Post a Comment
Ken Nordine
Ken Nordine
You may not know it, but you do know Ken Nordine, and you know him well. His deep resonant, baritone voice, gritty in a perfect kind of way, has sliced through television and radio ads for decades now. But you should know him for his "word jazz." He recorded his first Word Jazz album back in 1957, backed by the Chico Hamilton band. Nordine’s pieces play in the common -- words, bopping and shifting, wit pedaling to and fro in between the everyday bits of everyday life nimbly budging the predictable out of the way. Colorful is the perfect adjective, absurd is another word that should have a turn here too. Mundane is not in his vocabulary.

Anyway, today the legendary wordsmith is 90 years old -- Happy Birthday, Ken Nordine!






Digging through the Record Stacks 3 -- O'Hegarty, “Body in the Bag”

Posted by Whitmore, April 6, 2010 09:52pm | Post a Comment
o'hegarty Body in the bag 
O'Hegarty – “Body in the Bag” / “What a Mouth” (Verve-Folkways 1966)
 
Every record geek’s collection benefits from owning a few sides of twisted little English ditties, if only to help explain our twisted little lives. And this seven inch is as ridiculous and perverse a record you could ever hope to find. Most any vinyl fiend, jonesing for some new weirdness, would love to slip a needle on this disc. Anyway, one thing you should know, I’m not a big fan of pets, just not ... at all ... but if push comes to shove and to preserve harmony in the mostly cat loving Whitmore homestead, I too am more cat people than a dog people (it’s the poop question), so dear cat family, be warned, “Body in the Bag” yanks out several merry and morbid feline jokes, driven along by an acutely cheery organ and a happy jaunt on the sunny side of the street as the singer retells the tale of how he tries to rid himself of a dead cat. The original lyrics start like this:
 
“I met a strange man on the street today
He shoved a bag into my hands and quickly ran away,
I really must admit that it took me by surprise
What a charming fellow to leave me such a prize.
But when I took a look inside
I couldn’t believe my eyes,
He left me with a body in a bag
So on I went with a body in the bag
A body in the bag, ta ra ra.”
 
The song was written by Charles O'Hegarty and recorded in New York City on July 5, 1966. And as you may consistently find with many of the great singles of yore, the superior side, the desired side, like “Body in the Bag,” was originally relegated to B side status. The plug side, “What a Mouth,” is a nice song, a funny song, sure enough, but it ain’t no “Body.” Over the years I believe O'Hegarty wrote several different versions of “Body in the Bag,” as I keep on coming across different sets of lyrics, but no need for you music lover to fear -- it is always a snappy song about a dead cat ... ta ra ra ... ta ra ra.
 
Throughout O'Hegarty’s career he was mostly known as a singer of the traditional seafarer’s ballads and shanties and a gifted creator of weird tales, blessed with the ability to spontaneously craft a little song at the drop of a hat as fast as a cat. In a career that spanned decades, he was also a member of the band The Starboard List, who put out two albums for Adelphi Records and occasionally he was a contributor to the ground-breaking humor magazine National Lampoon during its heyday in the 1970’s.
 
Unfortunately I just read some sad news today; Charles O'Hegarty died earlier this year in the Hackney at Homerton Hospital in London, England of a heart condition on Friday, January 29th. He was 72. Rest in peace, O'Hegarty.

Alex Chilton Dead at 59

Posted by Whitmore, March 17, 2010 11:30pm | Post a Comment

alex chilton
Alex Chilton (December 28, 1950 - March 17, 2010).
Legendary music icon known for his work in the 1960’s with the chart topping Box Tops and his ground breaking band Big Star is dead from an apparent heart attack in a New Orleans hospital. He was 59.

Continue reading...

Remembering Tammi Terrell, Who Died 40 Years Ago Today

Posted by Whitmore, March 16, 2010 08:11pm | Post a Comment
Tammi Terrell
40 years ago today
, Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, died of a brain tumor just a month short of her 25th birthday. She was one of that incredible crop of 1960’s soul diva’s who knew how to seduce or belt out a song. Today she is best remembered for her Motown duets with Marvin Gaye with singles like “Ain't No Mountain High Enough”, “Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing”, “Your Precious Love” and “You're All I Need to Get By.”
 
Born in Philadelphia in 1945, as a teenager Tammi Terrell recorded for the Scepter/Wand label, releasing two solo discs under the name Tammy Montgomery. Both singles released in 1961, “If You See Bill,” and “Voice of Experience,” failed to chart. At about the same time, she also did session work doing backup vocals for the legendary Shirelles. In 1963 she was discovered by James Brown and joined his Revue. While under contract with Brown, Tammi released one single on his Try Me label, “I Cried.” At the time it was rumored that Terrell and Brown were romantically involved, Tammi Terrellsomething that didn’t quite fly with her parents, leading to her quick departure; she was replaced by Anna King. Next she signed with Checker Records' label, releasing one single, “If I Would Marry You.” Unfortunately her string of unsuccessful releases continued. In 1965 she signed with Motown, Barry Gordy changed her name to Tammi Terrell, and there she finally scored a couple of Top 30 singles on the R&B charts with 1966’s "I Can't Believe You Love Me" and "Come on and See Me." But it was when she was paired up with Marvin Gaye in 1967 that success finally came, fast and furious, with five top three R&B charting singles in just over a year. But all her success was short lived. On October 14, 1967, while in concert at Ogden Hall at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, she collapsed on stage in Gaye's arms. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was later diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. She had complained of severe migraine headaches for some time.
 Tammi Terrell
For years now stories have circulated that Tammi was the victim of a physically abusive boyfriend who had not only thrown her down a flight of stairs, but had also hit her over the head with a steel chair. But no actual allegations were ever proved. Terrell would undergo eight separate operations over the next three years for cancer; suffering from memory loss, numbness and weakness, blindness, she become far too sick to work. Eventually she was confined to a wheelchair and her weight dropped to under 85 lbs.
 
Tammi Terrell died on March 16th, 1970. She’s buried in Mount Lawn Cemetery in Philadelphia.
 
Marvin Gaye was devastated by her death. He took a long hiatus from live performances. And in his period of self-isolation, amidst his depression he re-evaluated his whole concept of what music might say. The result was the classic 1971 album What's Going On, a meditative, low key work which dealt, in part, with Tammi Terrell's death and issues of the world around him -- injustice, suffering and hatred.



Happy Birthday Gábor Szabó!!

Posted by Whitmore, March 8, 2010 09:22pm | Post a Comment
Gabor Szabo 
According to legend -- and we always print the myth around here -- while growing up in Budapest, the Hungarian born jazz legend Gabor Szabo was inspired to pick up the guitar after seeing a Roy Rogers singing cowboy feature. He started playing at about fourteen and at the age of twenty, on the eve of the anti-Communist uprising, he and his family escaped the Iron Curtain for sun saturated California.
 
After attending Berklee College (1958-60), he joined Chico Hamilton’s celebrated quintet featuring Charles Lloyd. Gabor Szabo would develop into one of the most original guitarists to emerge in the 1960s, crafting a singular and distinctive sound. From about 1966 on he would lead his own bands (that year alone he released four albums including the stellar Spellbinder and Jazz Raga -- with one of the coolest looking album covers ever printed!). Unlike most every jazz guitarist of the day, Szabo almost always played an acoustic guitar, specifically a Martin Dreadnought guitar, usually the D-45 or the D-285. I suspect Szabo, for the most part, was never taken as seriously as he would have liked in the jazz world, what with his mixing of jazz, commercial rock and pop, folk, Hungarian and gypsy music, it just didn’t fit the program. But Gabor Szabo was always the iconoclast. You can still hear his influence on modern guitarists today.
 
Szabo’s career was relatively brief. He died just short of his 46th birthday back in Budapest in 1982 from liver and kidney disease while on a visit there. Today would have been his 74th birthday. Happy birthday Gabor Szabo!





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