Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: Ken Nordine’s Colors

Michael Stipe made his name by mumbling.  R.E.M.’s early albums weren’t about the words but the tone, the feel.

But a couple of generations earlier words were everything.  People enjoyed a past time known as “reading,” which was a primitive sort of television.  At the same time they enjoyed music, jazz in particular.  These two worlds collided in the form of the Beats, a small group of writers dedicated to jazz, uppers, and trying to have sex with Jack Kerouac.  The Beats read their poetry in coffee houses for audiences who wore black berets and turtlenecks and snapped their fingers a lot.  These hard facts are indisputable, as they have appeared in every American situation comedy since 1955.

And speaking of 1955, that’s when baritone voice over artist Ken Nordine released his first album of “word jazz,” which was sort of what the Beats were doing but perhaps not with as much style.  Over the next twelve years he put out seven more albums and made a good living recording commercials and movie trailers.

In the late sixties the Fuller Paint Company hired Nordine to record ten radio commercials.  They gave him free rein to do his word jazz thing, and the results were a hit.  Nordine liked the results so much that he re-recorded the pieces along with a few more for 1967’s Colors.

So here he is, daddy-o, the anti-Stipe.  Dig, I’ll turn you cool cats onto the primary and secondary colors but, like, you should hit the road and score the rest yourself.  Now get those fingers snappin’, Jackson.







Categories: Deep Cuts, Music

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