Saturday, October 18, 2008

Everybody Shumba!

Nobody warns you that blogging can be dangerous. Time-consuming, amusing, occasionally alarming, yes -but actually sanity threatening? That came as a surprise.

And it's all the fault of running across this record cover. I don't even remember where.

Lou Christie? Hmmm. A half-remembered name, one that went with the pompadour and greaser expression. The Tammys? Now that's odd. Egyptian Shumba? What the Hell?

So I did some of the usual digging around.

The Tammys, it turned out, were falsetto crooner Lou Christie's attempt at creating a girl group. They were two sisters, Margaret Gretchen and Catherine Louise Owens, and their friend Linda Jones. They met Christie after one of his shows at a Moose Lodge in Franklin, Pennsylvania. The rest is history.

Soon they were his backup vocalists, and after a while he had them make a couple of records on their own. They're solid, plaintive, slightly nasal ditties ("Take Back Your Ring", "Part of Growing Up"). They had some modest local success, charting in Erie, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland, for example.

It's pretty clear that when it came to presentation, The Tammys could have benefited from Motown's legendary charm school.

But then - and this is probably where you should decide, now, if you want to read on and take a chance, or skip to the next posting and keep your wits about you - then came what, if this were a Criswell narration (and it might as well be) would be called That Fateful Day: November 1, 1963. A great nation is poised, unknowing, on the brink of enormous change - and in New York, The Tammys, under the close supervision of Lou Christie, record their magnum opus, a pop song truly unlike any other before or since.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you:

The Egyptian Shumba.

Listen at your own risk. And don't say you haven't been warned.

I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be having dreams consisting mostly of "Shimmy Shimmy Shimmy Shy-Yi Meece-E-Deece" for the next few weeks. And loving them.

Not much else happened for The Tammys, but this, certainly, was enough to gain them a little spot of immortality, no?


  1. Goodness...I can hear my neighbor's dog whimpering.
    (honest to god)

  2. This must be what inspired the B-52s---to take acid!

  3. The Tammy on the right looks like Britney Spears...

  4. UD - OMG! You're right! Maybe she should make a Tammys biopic. Althought any one of these three could sing rings around her...

  5. Gracious. The very broad swath between each of the girl's eyes seems to imply they could look in two directions at once, which after this little ditty came out, they probably needed to. Certainly these girls knew how to sell a song; and by "sell a song" I mean "bark like slightly musical dogs."

    I don't think that's Lou's pompadour, I think his hair is standing on end. I know mine is.

  6. I got an entire boxed set of rare and lesser known 60s girl group songs and this was, by far, the total standout track. I have listened to it an embarrassing number of times and I love it more and more each time.