Thomas Jefferson Kaye in the 1970s
I picked up the 45 you see before you today a while back on the strength of the title of the A-side, ‘Boo-Ga-Loo Baby’, because I am constitutionally incapable of passing up a 45 with the word “boogaloo” in the title.
When it finally fell through the mail slot and onto the turntable, I was shocked to discover that what I had was not a soul 45 but in fact a garage pop thing with a spooky, vaguely psyche thing on the flip.
I started out into the wastes of the interwebs to see what I could discover about the record and encountered a couple of nice surprises.
As it turns out, TJK and his PS13 Blues Band were a one-off studio project of a cat better known as Thomas Jefferson Kaye.
Kaye was a songwriter, producer and performer who got his start writing all kinds of pop and soul things for other people.
He made his way into the studio in 1967 and laid down this 45 (I have no idea who was playing with him).
As it turns out, today’s selection (written by Kaye) had already been recorded the year before, by none other than the Shirelles!
Their version is a tiny bit more major key/upbeat, almost to the point of being danceable. It keeps the slightly ominous middle section, though theirs is less moody and more forceful. The Shirelles were recording a lot of interesting things in their later period (done largely away from the charts) and this is one of their best.
The version by TJK and his PS13 Blues Band opens with a gently picked acoustic guitar, soon joined by a tremolo-soaked electric. Kaye’s vocal, backed by mallet-played drums and a piano (or is it a celeste?) helps to create a gentle, slightly dark mood, and when they get to that middle section, they’re teetering right on the edge of psychedelia without falling all the way in.
It all makes for a very interesting 45 that ought to be better known.
Interestingly, Kaye placed songs with a bunch of soul acts in the 60s, including Chuck Jackson, Maxine Brown, Judy Clay and Candy and the Kisses (all by virtue of his work as a kind of ‘house’ composer for Scepter/Wand), as well as co-writing one of my favorite sunshine pop sides, the Sunshine Company’s ‘Love That’s Where It Is’ and the Barbarians snot-fest ‘Hey Little Bird’.
He went on to produce Gene Clark’s 1974 classic ‘No Other’ LP.
As if his position as a kind of rock’n’roll Zelig was secure enough, his own 1973 solo album was produced by Steely Dan producer Gary Katz and featured both Donald Fagen and Walter Becker as backing musicians and songwriters.
Kaye was apparently plagued by disease and substance abuse, and passed away in 1994.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll see you all next week.