Friday, August 10, 2007
Standing Tall With Jackie Shane!
Jackie Shane - Stand Up Straight and Tall
The history of American music is heavily-studded with the stories and recordings of pretty eccentric characters. In the black music world there was certainly no shortage of such figures. One area where quite a few eccentrics existed was in gender and/or sexual ambiguity: Little Richard springs immediately to mind, but also one must consider Esquerita (aka Eskew Reeder or S.Q. Reeder), whom some consider to be Richard's inspiration; Wilmer "Little Axe" Broadnax led the Spirit of Memphis, among other male gospel groups, but it was not revealed until Little Axe's death that Broadnax was a woman performing under her brother's name; and Sylvester ("You Make Me Feel Mighty Real") ruled the disco world in the late '70s. The R&B singer Jackie Shane fits within this pantheon with his androgynous performances, but unfortunately his story is not as well-known as some of the others.
I haven't been able to find out much about the Toronto-based Shane, except that he had only one R&B hit, "Any Other Way," released in 1963 on Sue. This page from Queer Music Heritage sheds a little more light on the story, but not much. What I do know, though, is that Jackie Shane's music had soul to spare, and "Stand Up Straight and Tall," a loosey-goosey, blues-oriented groover (dig the slight Latin groove underneath this one) reflects this fact. Fortunately for us all, there is performance footage of Shane on YouTube, appearing on WLAC-TV's "Night Train," doing "Walking The Dog." The appearance probably came from 1964 or 1965. Johnny Jones & The King Casuals ("Soul Poppin'") are the backing band and I think that's the Hytones on background vocals and choreography. Check out this soulful performance!