Jamo Thomas

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Jamo Thomas
Birth name James Thomas
Genres Northern soul, soul, funk[1]
Occupation(s) Singer, percussionist
Instruments Vocals
Years active Late 1950s–mid 1970s
Labels Conlo Records, Sound Stage 7, Thomas Records, Chess, Decca, Perception Records, SSS International

Jamo Thomas is an American soul and funk singer, best remembered for his 1966 hit single, "I Spy (For the FBI)".[1]

Born in either The Bahamas[1] or Chicago,[2] he recorded for several different record labels between 1965 and 1976.[3] His billing sometimes included his name alongside backing musicians, known as his Party Brothers Orchestra,[4] or simply as Mr. Jamo. His biggest successes were "Bahama Mama" and a cover version of "I Spy (For the FBI)".[1]

Career[edit]

After a spell as a percussionist with the Pennsylvania-based Bobby Peterson Quintet in the late 1950s,[5] Thomas relocated to Chicago in the early 1960s.[1] He recorded his debut single, "Stop the Baby", in 1965 for the small Conlo Records label, with the track produced by Jerry Butler.[1] Thomas was working for the singer at the time, as his valet and driver, while also playing percussion in his support band.

His next recording, "I Spy (For the FBI)", produced by Monk Higgins and Burgess Gardner and released on the small Thomas label (owned by Eddie Thomas), peaked at #98 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.[2] It was re-issued on Polydor in the UK in 1969, when it reached #44 in the UK Singles Chart.[4] The track proved to be his only appearance in either chart. The song was written by Herman Kelley and Richard "Popcorn" Wylie, and was originally recorded by Luther Ingram a few months prior to Thomas' version.[6]

Thomas later moved to Philadelphia and recorded for Perception Records.[1] By 1972, he was acting in a promotional capacity for Stax Records.[7] His recording career finished more or less in the mid 1970s, although Thomas was later credited as an arranger for an Ella Washington gospel album. He re-appeared in 1983 for a 12-inch outing on the small Emerald International label called "(My Jive) Backstabbing Friend". His scream was used on the opening of the track "Scream" on Graham Central Station's 1979 Warner Bros. album, Star Walk.[1]

His work has appeared on various compilation albums over the years, including Spy Magazine Presents: Spy Music, Vol. 1 (1994), Chess Club Rhythm & Soul (1996) and Shake What You Brought! SSS Soul Collection (2005).[8]

In addition to the Ingram and Thomas versions of "I Spy (For the FBI)", the song has been recorded by The Untouchables,[9] Blue Rondo à la Turk[10] and John Hiatt.[11]

Discography[edit]

  • "Stop the Baby" b/w "Let's Party" (Conlo Records) (1965)
  • "I Spy (For the FBI)" b/w "Snake Hip Mama" (Thomas Records) (1966)
  • "Arrest Me" b/w "Jamo Soul" (Thomas Records) (1966)
  • "Must I Holler" b/w "I'll Be Your Fool" (Chess) (1966)
  • "Nassau Daddy" b/w "Jive Mother-in-Law" (Sound Stage 7) (1967)
  • "Bahama Mama (Part 1)" b/w "Bahama Mama (Part 2)" (Sound Stage 7) (1967)
  • "Education Is Where It's At (Part 1)" b/w "Education Is Where It's At (Part 2)" (Decca) (1968)
  • "Shake What You Brought With You (Part 1)" b/w "Shake What You Brought With You (Part 2)" (Perception) (1970)
  • "You Just Ain't Ready (Part 1)" b/w "You Just Ain't Ready (Part 2)" (SSS International) (1970)[1][3][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Biography by Bruce Eder". Allmusic.com. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 709. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  3. ^ a b "Jamo Thomas – Free listening, concerts, stats, & pictures at". Last.fm. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  4. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 557. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ "Bobby Peterson". Rockabilly.nl. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  6. ^ a b "Jamo Thomas". Soulfulkindamusic.net. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  7. ^ Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville, U.S.A.: the story of Stax Records (1st ed.). New York: Schirmer Trade Books. p. 251. ISBN 0-8256-7284-8. 
  8. ^ "Jamo Thomas | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  9. ^ "I Spy (For the FBI) - The Untouchables | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  10. ^ "I Spy (For the FBI) - Blue Rondo a la Turk | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  11. ^ "I Spy (For the FBI) - John Hiatt | Listen, Appearances, Song Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 

External links[edit]