Mamie Galore - Special Agent 34-24-38
Miss Mamie Galore
If you’ve been reading in the last few weeks you’ve seen me mention (and rave about) the recently issued DVDs of the mid-60’s soul/R&B TV show ‘The Beat’. Today’s artist appears on one of those volumes, performing this very selection. Mamie Galore was born Mamie Davis in Mississippi in 1940. She performed around the Delta with Herman Scott and the Swinging Kings, later moved on to the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, and then to Little Milton’s band (which brought her to Chicago). In 1965 she was signed to St. Lawrence records, one of the great Chicago soul labels which also released sides by Monk Higgins, the Vontastics, the Ideals, Chuck Bernard (who also shows up on ‘The Beat’) and Johnny Sayles. Her first 45 for the label was today’s feature, “Special Agent 34-24-38”. I’ll assume that a lot of the folks that stop by this blog are probably (a lot) younger than I am, so I’ll stop here to give a little perspective. While any record with a title like “Special Agent 34-24-38” should give pause to even the most jaded digger, making their greedy little fingers tingle and their anticipatory soul satisfaction jump a notch or two, they ought to know that Miz Galore was not operating in a vacuum. Thanks to the popularity of the Sean Connery ‘James Bond’ films, the mid 60’s saw a boom in secret agent/spy themed entertainment on all fronts with movies, TV, books and records reflecting the newfound obsession. I could go on for a week about all the cool Bond knock-off’s on the big and little screens (straight and spoofs), but a brief survey of the soul records that came out in the wake of Bond-mania will have to suffice. Some faves: The Olympics – Secret Agents Jamo Thomas – I Spy for the FBI The Miracles – Come Spy With Me Perry & The Harmonics – Do the Monkey with James Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers – Sock It To Em JB Agent Double O Soul – Edwin Starr ..and I’m sure there are a bunch of others that I’ve either forgotten or never heard of. Needless to say the soul folk weren’t letting any moss grow on that fad, and not surprisingly most of the records are very cool. “Special Agent 34-24-38”. (co-written by Monk Higgins and an certain “E. Jones” who I’m pretty sure is Chi-town DJ E. Rodney Jones, if I’m wrong let me know) starts out with a “Peter Gunn”-esque riff, before Mamie drops in with a rap about her experience in the ways of love. In fact, aside from the title, there’s not a whole lot of “secret agent” stuff happening, but that doesn’t stop it from being a very tasty side. Galore had a high, sweet voice and the way she kind of runs out the word ‘Galore’ at the end of the chorus is a thing to behold. When she performed the tune on ‘The Beat’, she was strapped into a tight dress, wig-hat on, and seemed a little ill at ease, but I can only assume that even though she was a seasoned performer, she might have been intimidated by appearing on TV. Either way, it’s cool to see her perform (even if it is a lipsynch). She recorded a few more 45s for St. Lawrence, one for Sack (‘It Right Now b/w No Right To Cry’ , which is a Northern Soul rarity trading in excess of $1000 a copy), and several for Imperial, both as a solo and in duets with Dee Irwin. In 1972 she returned to Mississsippi where she continued to perform (mainly as a blues artist) up to her death in 2001.
NOTE: I may not post again until Monday, so I'll take this opportunity to say Happy Thanksgiving! Have a safe holiday weekend.