Thursday, August 17, 2017

Junior - Mama Used to Say (1982)

 Mama Used to Say
b/w Mama Used to Say (Instrumental)

Released: April, 1982 (Mercury)
Written by: Junior Giscombe, Bob Carter
Produced by: Bob Carter
Album: Ji

 U. S. Billboard Charts:
 Hot 100 30
 R&B 2

Wow, what a fantastically funky bass line.  This overlooked gem from British R&B singer Junior (Norman Washington Giscombe) is ripe for a revisit.  This song was a bigger hit in Junior's native UK than here in the US and really can't figure out why.  Following an introduction that reminds me of "Groovin'" by The Young Rascals, this thing is completely danceable, has a huge growly hook on the chorus, great rhythm guitar riff on the verse, someone is pounding the keys off the piano in the background of the chorus, and then there's that bass line.  What's not to like?  Well, I'm not wild about the synth horns, but those would become ubiquitous on R&B hits a few years later.  In fact, this whole thing has a 1986 sound to it.  I guess Junior was ahead of his time. Sadly, this would be his only Top 40 pop hit, although he did place 3 more songs on the dance charts in 1982-84.  Speaking of dancing, click the YouTube clip below and join me.

Cash Box, March 6, 1982, p. 9
Update, August 17, 2017: Just picked up a copy of the 12" single (Netherlands import), which includes the following:

(for reference, the single edit clocks in at 3:35). The "Club Mix" takes a good thing and makes it even better with an extended intro and outro. The "Party Mix" changes up the percussion and pushes that bass line back in the mix while bringing up the synth horns and guitar, much to my displeasure. I'll stick with the former. Nothing special about the instrumental cut but possibly useful for drunken karaoke (I plead the fifth).

Bonus useless trivia: I put this thing on the turntable with the speed set to 33⅓ because of the sleeve:

but, as you probably guessed, it's actually a 45 rpm 12".

And, if you need 'em, there's lackluster cover versions by Beverley Knight (2011) and Jupiter (2012), although I'd like to hear a version with Knight's vocals over Jupiter's backing tracks. Somebody mash that up, please and thank you.

originally posted May 7, 2014

1 comment :

  1. Big, big fan of that "growly hook" and (pump that) bass. This track has all the ingredients of a house track but was ahead of it's time. Also like the bouncing left to right extraneous percussion sounds during the vamps.

    1982. 'nuff said.