Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Brenton Wood ("Oogum Boogum", "Gimme Little Sign", 1967)

Good morning!

Did you have a good Cinco de Mayo? I'd almost forgotten what day it was, much less that it was a cause for celebration--how far removed from my college-age priorities am I, that I nearly missed an alcohol-based holiday altogether? Matthew had the evening off, too, so we made black bean quesadillas with vegan cheese and drank palomas to mark the occasion... OlĂ©, ola...I may or may not have had to stay in the bed this morning until the LAST MOMENT PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE to do so without either calling out or being woefully late to work. Damn your eyes, Mexican involvement in the prevention of an American invasion by the French in 1862 and the commemorative holiday of that battle...However! I am here, I am chugging away now on the wings of a pure, black-as-tar tankard of coffee, and I got sweet soul music to talk to you about. Let me live, Lord!

We watched The Devil's Due on Amazon Instant Video night-before-last, and I will say the ONLY good thing about the entire movie, which was thin as broth and ploddingly slow ON TOP of being another entry in the way-overdone found footage genre? The completely non-sensical choice of soundtrack for the end credits, "Oogum Boogum" by Brenton Wood. I came away humming the F-O-O-L out of this song and wanting to run out and buy whatever record it came from... I hope they had to pay him a million dollars for the rights, because it was truly the best part of the movie (one, that it was over; two, that I love that song). Folks, have you heard the good word about Brenton Wood?

Brenton Wood (not to be confused with Brooks Benton, who share a very similar name and career choice with wood) was born in 1941 in Louisiana, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a teenager. After ten years of working in various bands as a vocalist and piano player, he eventually signed a contract with Double Shot Records in 1967. "Oogum Boogum" was the first of two big hits he would have on that label, after rewriting the words of what was called "Baby You're Casting a Spell on Me" to include the nonsense magic words of the title. Note the various references to the cool clothes I would be wearing in 1967 when Brenton Wood saw fit to write a song about me:
Oogum oogum boogum boogum   
Boogum now baby you're castin' your spell on me
I say, "Oogum oogum boogum boogum  
Boogum now baby you're castin' you're spell on me.
"You got me doin' funny things like a clownJust look at me
When you wear your high heeled boots with your hip hugger suit 
Its all right, you're outta sight
And you wear that cute mini skirt with your brother's sloppy shirt
I admit it, girl that I can dig it
Well then i say...


Don't those lyrics just conjure up a vision of a girl at the Saturday night dance at the cool place in town with her "brother's sloppy shirt" hanging out over her teeny mini skirt...that careless, carefree girl on the center of the dance floor, driving all the menfolk wild. Without being an object of desire, just something you could appreciate for being "something else"? Compare Wood's vibe of "You're casting a spell on me" to "Blurred Lines" 's appreciative paen to feminine attractiveness,"You the hottest b-tch in this place". Disclaimer: I love that song, I would also love to be consider the hottest b-tch in any given place, but I am so tired of 21st century songs being about the specific mechanics of what happens when I come home drunk with you that I could actually cry. Would it kill you to let me be admired more than desired for like TWO SECONDS? There's a light-hearted romanticism in this adorable little song that makes my heart pine for dancing up close to somebody and smiling through blushing through hoping, rather than grinding on the dance floor with someone who is not interested in how your clothes are cool or how much you know about Rolling Stones records. Am I too sensitive? MAYBE I'M NOT SENSITIVE ENOUGH.


I was surprised, when I dug into the must-have Brenton Wood album, Brenton Wood's 18 Best, that there's ANOTHER song you already know already, the second of his aptly named Double Shot record hits, "Gimme Little Sign". While those words never actually appear in the song (it's clearly "Just give me some kind of sign, girl"....?), you might remember the lyrics and the unusual, bendy sort of singing he does from some sunny oldes' station listening afternoon of your youth:
If you do want me, gimme little sugar
If you don't want me, don't lead me on girl
But if you need me, show me that you love me
And when I'm feeling blue and I want you
There's just one thing that you should do
Just gimme some kind of sign girl
Oh my baby
To show that you're mine girl
Oh yeah

Try listening to this song and not spending your afternoon attempting the falsetto, "Just gimme some kinda SI-HIIIII-EEE-EIN...to show me that you're MY-HIIIIII-EEE-EIN...." and wishing you were in the movie My Girl. If I couldn't have my real dad, I would appreciate Dan Ackroyd as my dad and also growing up in a funeral home in the sixties', thanks...PS: The soundtrack of this movie is out of control. If only they'd let Thomas J. LIIIIVE....I digress. Also, I hate bees.

What is a "Hip Pocket Record"? Wouldn't you like to know! Check it out heresource

I was able to find some info from Google Books previews on Wood-- this is my favorite, from an All Music The Definitive Guide to Popular Music, because the opening sentence just said what I like about this music better than I have thus far spent all this time writing about it:

Infectious! Charming! Unpredictable! Doesn't he sound like a dream date? Here's another snippet of info from Carolina Beach Music: The Classic Years  by Rick Simmons:

Isn't it nice to hear someone talking about how much fun they had writing a song, rather than how their writing partner stabbed them in the back and now they're living check-to-check and bitter as a pill in some dismal midwest town? Good for you, Brenton Wood! Also, I now really want to read this book based on the synopsis:
Why has Gene McDaniels only sung "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" twice in the last four decades - and why was it banned in England? Why did their record company force the Swingin' Medallions to change the lyrics to "Double Shot"? Which beach music classic was written on a matchbook cover? What famous entertainer advised lead singer Clem Curtis to quit the Foundations right before recording "Build Me Up, Buttercup"? Why did Jan Bradley become "disillusioned" with the recording industry and end up quitting the business entirely? Was that really the Harlem Globetrotters singing "Rainy Day Bells"? Why does Freda Payne say that "Band of Gold" was a "strange" song? Why did Ernie K. Doe and Benny Spellman get into a fistfight fight at the recording session for "Te-Ta-Te-Te-Ta-Ta"? What artist, after recording several chart hits and having his songs recorded by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, spent most of the rest of his life working as a janitor?
I NEED TO KNOW THE ANSWERS TO ALL THESE QUESTION, OMG.  (Also, what is NOT strange about "Band of Gold", have you ever listened to the lyrics of that song?)

And last but not least, this ad from a 1968 Billboard...isn't it interesting the Count Five, famous for "Psychotic Reaction" were also on the Double Shot label:

So! What do you think? Do you miss sweet soul songs like this that make you feel like going on a date? Do you remember either of these late sixties' hits by Brenton Wood? What's got you dancing lately? Let's talk!

I'm gonna go grab some lunch and lay my sorry, Cinco-broken head down...only 6.5 hours to go! That somehow makes it sound longer, euuugh. Keep a good thought for me! See you guys back here tomorrow with more stuff!

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