Listen/Download – Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville – You Turn Me On (The Turn On Song)
Welcome back to Iron Leg: the Sweltering…
I just walked out back to take out the garbage and I very nearly melted on my way to the bin.
Jeebus it’s hot out.
Naturally, not being a complete moron I realize that it is summer and I should expect temperatures like this (and in reflection I do remember griping about the cold during the winter), but no amount of reality prepares you for the feeling of your hair catching fire as you step out into the sun.
Fortunately (for me anyway) I’m writing this in the air conditioned sanctuary of my record room, with an album being recorded on the turntable and my sons on the other laptop playing computer games (my wife is recuperating on the divan…).
I have a backlog of vinyl awaiting digimatization, and since a lot of it is entire albums I want to record, I can just set up the recorded, drop the needle on the record and go about my business until the side is complete (now playing/recording Chad and Jeremy ‘Of Cabbages and Kings’ soon to be featured at a blog near you.
The tune I bring you today is of a slightly earlier vintage, and teeters right at the edge of Novelty Canyon, but I dig it for a couple of significant reasons.
Way back in the day, when I was a long-haired college student I pulled out my library card and borrowed a book entitled ‘Rock Odyssey’ by today’s artist, Ian Whitcomb.
Whitcomb, and Englishman who attended college in Ireland and had a couple of hits here in the States has had a very interesting career indeed, moving on later in life as a curator of sorts of early pop music, a re-popularizer of the mighty ukulele, writer and all around nice guy.
Though it’s been nearly 30 years since I paged through ‘Rock Odyssey’, I recall it being a fantastic read, both as a personal memoir and as a vividly rendered look at the world of rock and pop circa 1965/66.
Whitcomb hit the charts with ‘The Turn On Song’ in the Spring of 1965, just as the British Invasion was colliding with Sunset Strip mod-ism, so he fell right into the thick of the Shindig, the Hullaballoo and all such groovy things.
Interestingly, when Whitcomb first came to the US he was based out of the Pacific Northwest, thus the credit on the label of the 45 for Jerry Dennon/Jerden Records (as in The Sonics et al).
The record itself is a bright, poppy, piano driven blues all running under Whitcomb’s somewhat bizarrely affected falsetto (affected in that it sounds like a put on as opposed to a classic, doowop/soul falsetto) leading up to his breathless (quasi-orgasmic) heaving. It’s just the kind of thing that would have (and did) get an easy foothold in the charts, and as soon as America’s teenaged girls got a look at Whitcomb’s toothy smile and long, Beatle-y hair, it was all over but the shouting.
‘The Turn On Song’ was actually Whitcomb’s second chart hit with his band Bluesville (formed while studying in Ireland), the first being ‘This Sporting Life’, which scraped the outer limits of the Top 40 a few months earlier.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back with something groovy later in the week.