Saturday, August 11, 2012

People are people, whatever they eat for breakfast (Ray Columbus)

Ray Columbus! Probably a name not very well known outside of Australasia but, in Nu Zild, in particular, it is a name that conjures up instant images (and lyrics!).

Ray has been an entertainer in NZ for five decades. He's had an amazing career, even if you don't like his stuff much.

For people of my generation he's the self-proclaimed Modfather (She's A Mod with his group The Invaders), the perennial family entertainer on musical TV shows of the sixties and seventies C'Mon, Happen Inn and That's Country, and in later years the knowledgeable manager of the brilliant Zed.

I picked up his autobiography, The Modfather, at the Waipukurau library while I was waiting for Jacky to finish some shopping. After flicking through it I borrowed it and haven't put in down in three days!

It's excellent! He writes as he has lived his life - with sparkles, breathless short sentences and (mostly) endearing hey-look-at-me bravado. Talent smellent - he dreamed it (Elvis, Jerry Lee, Buddy, Roy etc) and then made it happen through force of will. Failure smailure - he never entertained the idea.
I've never been a big fan but I did once own his greatest hits album for three reasons: She's A Mod, Till We Kissed and People Are People. Three songs that are firmly lodged into my DNA.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yeah, don't ya hear the wind blowing mmmmmhmmmm Stoned Love (The Supremes)

They were well named weren't they? One listen to You Can't Hurry Love and how can you not be transported back to the wonderful sixties.

When a song comes on the p-pod shuffle, I sometimes need to get up and find out who it is (even though everything on the p-pod comes from my own collection). When Stoned Love came on this morning I had no such need. Clearly a Motown song (that drum/tambourine combo alone instantly recalls a few hundred other Motown songs), clearly a Supremes' song, clearly a sixties song.

Stoned Love comes from 1970 but reeks of the sixties.

 In so many ways the song  and its history (the groups last top ten hit in America) sums up that decade as well as anything does.

 The whole story of the song is suitably barking mad:
  • unusually, the lead vocal is NOT sung by Diana Ross (take a bow Jean Terrell)
  • the actual name of the song was NOT Stoned Love - it was Stone Love (listen carefully to the song) but mislabelled on release, unfortunately giving the song unwarranted drug connotations
  • there are over 30 musicians on the song PLUS the Funk Brothers (Motown's legendary house band)
  • as a plea for universal love and peace it is unusual subject matter for The Supremes
  • the song appears in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump as a cipher to the sixties
  • the song was written by Kenny Thomas but his writing credit is listed as "Yennek Samoht"; his name spelled backwards (with an extra "e" to aid pronunciation) 
Like I said - barking mad.

The song itself is fabulous. Those harmonies as the Supremes sing the words 'Stone Love' could only have ever come from that combination of voices (there are strong echoes of Diana Ross in the vocal delivery even though she was not on it).