Ask "Mr. Music" October 18, 2010 "Tamouré, Tahitian dance"
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Your recent column about Hawaiian music gives me hope you can provide some information about a record that must have been from the Islands.
In mid-1963, amidst all the dance, surf, and hot rod hits, was a Hawaiian vocal by a female group. It may be titled "Dance of Love," or at least they use that line.
I know where I was - taking summer classes at Northwestern - and I know this was a big hit in Chicago. It was played as often as other songs, but, unlike "Surfin' U.S.A." and "It's My Party", this infectious tune has, to my knowledge, never been played again anywhere. When I ask for help identifying it, no one even knows what I'm talking about.
- Sandi Mason, Kenosha, Wisc.
I do, but only because of the Chicago connection. There are, as you're about to learn, many possibilities.
Your mystery song is "Tamouré" (tam-or-RAY) one of those countless 1963 dance numbers. But, unlike the bird and bossa nova, the Tahitian-born tamouré never caught on in America - neither the record nor the dance.
The "Tamouré" in the WLS Top 10 in Chicago is by Bill Justis (Smash 1812), and it peaked at No. 7 in late May and early June.
Bill Justis is the famous sax player whose "Raunchy" (1957), is a R&R classic, yet neither he nor his sax is heard on "Tamouré." He is the arranger and conductor, but the un-credited vocals are by the Stephen Scott Singers.
Despite many Polynesian cultural connections between Tahiti and our 50th state, there is nothing Hawaiian about "Tamouré."
The real tamouré, a dance with extreme booty-shaking maneuvers, can be done to many different recordings, most of which are a variation of "Vini Vini."
The earliest U.S. release of "Vini Vini" is on the 1958 LP by Terorotua and His Tahitians, titled "Lure of Tahiti" (ABC-Paramount 271). It is sung in their native language.
For about four years, the tamouré remained relatively unknown beyond French Polynesia.
Then in 1962, in France itself, a tamouré craze struck, fueled by recordings such as "Dansez le Tamouré" (Elle Est Partie le Tamoure) ["It is the Tamouré Party"] "Special Danse" featuring "Tamouré Vini Vini" (Vogue EPL 8-049).
This is why the picture sleeve for the Bill Justis "Tamouré" single reads: "The French Dance Rage Comes to America."
Well, it definitely came to Chicagoland, as reported in the June 1, 1963 Billboard:
"CHICAGO - Bill Justice's [sic] "Tamouré" on Smash was the hottest of the new sides here last week."
Far beyond Chi-town and France, a tamouré tune could be heard on nearly every continent in mid-'63.
From that same magazine comes this rave from George Hilder in Sydney, where "Tamouré" is No. 1 in Australia:
"The current sensation in the local industry has been the phenomenal success of "Tamouré" by Bill Justis [Philips BF-26]. It jumped from No. 89 to No. 1 on the Top 100. Philips started to publicize the disk with a double-page spread in a Sunday newspaper five weeks ago, which aroused immediate interest. Paul Turner of Philips organized a national tie-up with the Fred Astaire studio and a dance competition with the winning couple receiving a flight to Tahiti, plus $100 expense money" (before you laugh, that is approximately $1,000 in today's money).
The Australian picture sleeve shows the title as "Tamouré (The Dance of Love)," the sub-title being the line in the song that stuck in your memory.
That sleeve also promotes the Philips dance contest with a "Win a Wonderful Flight on TEAL to Fabulous Tahiti" banner.
Elsewhere, local recordings topped their respective charts. Especially noteworthy are "Wini-Wini" by Die Tahiti-Tamourés (Polydor 24-991), in Germany, and "Wini-Wini" by the Waikiki Tamoure (Triola TA-5), in Scandinavia. In Japan, rather than a version by one of their own, Philips repackaged the Bill Justis "Tamouré" (Philips M1055).
Inexplicably, this American (Nashville) recording by an American artist was enormous overseas and never even made the Top 100 in America, though that didn't keep numerous others in the States from trying to claim a piece of the tamouré mania so successful elsewhere.
Among those efforts are: "Tamouré" by Don Costa (Columbia 42785) (1963); "The Tamouré Shake" by Lester Lanin and His Orchestra (Epic 5-9624) (1963); "Tamouré, Tamouré, Amoure" by Joye Bell (Glass Piano 201) (1964); "Tamouré" by Carlos Rubio (Fontana 67515) (1964); "Vini Vini (Tamouré)" by Manuia & Maeva (Almo ) (1965); and "Vini Vini (Tamouré)" by Dick & Dee Dee (Warner Bros. 5652) (1965).
I'm told the Dick & Dee Dee tune was a minor hit in Hawaii.
IZ ZAT SO?
Two tamouré records actually did make the U.S. Top 40, but only because each is merely the flip side of a hit:
"Orange Tamouré" is the B-side of "Charade," from the 1963 film of the same name, by Henry Mancini & His Orchestra (RCA Victor 47-8256), and on the reverse of "Hawaii Tattoo," by the Waikikis, is "Tahiti Tamouré" (Kapp 30)(1964)
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