13 February 2009

Only in Oz (12) Bill Justis - Tamoure

Another in my series of posts about tracks that charted in Australia but not in their countries of origin.

12. Bill Justis - Tamoure (with the Stephen Scott Singers)
(Heinz Hellmer - Wolf Petersen - M. Singleton - B. Everette; arranged by Bill Justis. Apparently based on a 1956 composition by Yves Roche)
Song also known as Tamouré (The Dance Of Love) or Vini Vini or Wini-Wini
USA 1963
Smash single (USA) #1812
Philips single (Australia) #BF-26
Australian charts: #1 Sydney #1 Melbourne #1 Brisbane #1 Adelaide #1 Perth

Strictly speaking, Tamouré has an acute accent over the 'e'. Most English databases - and the title printed on the 45 - leave it off, although it is restored on the record's sleeve.

In the annals of Only in Oz this is a classic case, an American record that made a big splash all over Australia1 but only managed a ripple in the US: #7 in Chicago, #101 nationally.2 As far as I can see it wasn't a hit in the UK, Europe, South Africa or even Canada where it peaked in the high thirties.

So, let's say Only in Oz.

Bill Justis (1927-1982) started out as a trumpeter, but from the early 60s he worked in Nashville as a producer, composer, arranger and musical director.3

To the record-buying public, though, Justis was probably best known for his earlier hit instrumental Raunchy (1957, #2 US), recorded at Sun Records in Memphis where he had been musical director before moving to Nashville. He played the sax on Raunchy and co-wrote it with the guitarist on the record, Sid Manker. It was the only single in Bill Justis's name to chart Top 40 in the US, but it has been much played and recorded over the years.

One notable Bill Justis enterprise in Nashville was his collaboration with keyboardist Jerry Smith as Cornbread & Jerry. Their first recording, made in Memphis before the move to Nashville, was Li'l Ole Me (covered in Australia by Warren Carr), but they later added a female chorus and put two singles onto the US charts as The Dixiebelles with Cornbread & Jerry: (Down At) Papa Joe's (1963, #9 USA) and Southtown USA (1964, #15 USA).

Bill Justis's Tamoure is an English-language version of a Tahitian song known as Wini-Wini or Vini Vini.

 A version on German Polydor by Die Tahiti Tamourés, as Wini-Wini, was a hit in 1963 in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium YouTube. It was released in January 1963 (says 45cat), with an arrangement that sounds the same as the Bill Justis record, released in March 1963 (45cat) with an arranger credit to Bill Justis.

The writer credits on the German Tahiti Tamourés single are to Heinz Hellmer and Wolf Petersen, also credited on Bill Justis's single. The other two writers on the Bill Justis Tamouré (M. Singleton-B. Everette) would be Bill Everette (he wrote Gitarzan with Ray Stevens) and - I'm guessing - Margaret Singleton, also known as Margie, first wife of Shelby Singleton.

Both records owe a lot to a 1958 version by Terorotua and His Tahitians, entitled Vini Vini, on their ABC-Paramount album, Lure Of Tahiti, with a writer credit to French composer Yves Roche.

There was at least one further single in the US of this "Bill Justis Tamouré", by Dick and Dee Dee, reverting to the title Vini Vini (1965).

Another single on Almo by Manuia and Maeva, also entitled Vini Vini (1965), is probably the same song, since it credits Yves Roche as writer (as on the 1958 Vini Vini) but I can't verify this. Arnold Rypens at The Originals lists several other versions 1958-2005, including a 1963 hit in Italy for Betty Curtis YouTube.

Die Tahiti-Tamourés, 1963 European hit.

The tamouré or tamure is a Tahitian dance, and there is no shortage of songs with variations of its name - or vini vini - in their titles,4 but I'm not about to research those in depth.

The sleeve of Bill Justis's single says THE FRENCH DANCE RAGE COMES TO AMERICA. Recordings by Les Kavika from 1962 are examples of the tamouré phenomenon in France: his 1962 EP on the French label Vogue Dansez le tamouré has four tamouré dance tracks, all arranged by Kavika-Barouh, including one entitled Tamouré Vini Vini. (See also the four tamouré compositions by Kavika on his 1962 EP Le Tamouré.)

Finally, a case of Not in Oz: Australians were also contrarian about Bill Justis's big hit, Raunchy (1957). It was a #2 on Billboard, #11 in the UK, but Australians preferred to put two cover versions - by Billy Vaughn and Ernie Freeman - onto the local charts. (Another version by Billy Strange popped up on our charts too, but not till 1965.) 

See also: Arnold Rypens's a list of versions at The Originals.
Thanks to Joop and Walter for lighting up this trail for me.

Bill Justis - Tamoure.mp3

Die Tahiti Tamourés - Wini-Wini.mp3

Terorotua and His Tahitians - Vini Vini (1958).mp3

1. Gavin Ryan's Australian chart books [store]. In this case the other chart books agree:
The Book for Sydney and Thirty Years Of Hits for Melbourne both have Tamoure at #1.
2. The Smash Records Story at Both Sides Now.
3. Bill Justis biography at All Music Guide.

4. Just three examples of tamure/vini vini variations, different from the Bill Justis Tamoure:
(i) The Wikipedia article on tāmūrē (which seems to have been cut and pasted all over the Net, going by Google search results) mentions a post-World War II popularising version by
Louis Martin.
(ii) As my friend Joop Jansen points out, there is a 1930s recording by Tino Rossi, Vieni Vieni [YouTube], also recorded, for example by The Gaylords in the 50s.
iii) Les Kavioka's tamouré EPs on French label Vogue (1962), featured at Encyclopedisque.fr
5. Song history at The Originals by Arnold Rypens.

1 comment:

Ian said...

That's an interesting link between Justis and The Dixibelles. I loved all this stuff back in the day, even after I discovered the Animals and The Stones etc.

Nice blog, very nostalgic!