Monday, October 03, 2005

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I see, via Mark Evanier, that HAMILTON CAMP has passed on.

Now this ties in to my love for the recorded output of Warner Bros. Records and its subsidiary label Reprise in the late '60s-early/mid '70s- for years and years the only thing I knew about Camp was that he was one of the artists that appeared on one of the two Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders that I owned, represented by a great (unreleased elsewhere, as far as I know) song called "Star-Spangled Bus", which is a catchy,gospel/folk-tinged song that appeared on side 3 of The 1969 Warner-Reprise Record Show. The bio reads:

HAMILTON CAMP measures fifty-eight inches from the tip of his oversize cowboy boots to the uppermost curl of his sandy neo-Hendrixian hair. Which is just fine with us, on account of Ham is a gas in concert with his self-effacing Smothers Brothersish rapier-like and unabashedly exhuberant wit.

"Star Spangled Bus", which we found in the can, is the sort of thing you get when you cross a slightly PaulSimonish tune with a busy poppish arrangement and the joyous crooning of a small but very talented man.

In his distant past, Ham recorded
Here's To You (Warner album 1737) and Welcome to Hamilton Camp (1753) for us.

When I first played the tune as a teenager, it didn't make much of an impression. Strangely enough, neither did the cuts that it shared the side with, such as Van Dyke Parks' "Music For Ice Capades TV Commercials", Sweetwater's "Day Song", Randy Newman's "Yellow Man", and Pearls Before Swine's "These Things Too". I figured I had probably seen Camp in some movie or TV show, but didn't remember any offhand, 1967's He and She being a dim and distant memory, not to mention 1969's notorious one-episode Laugh-In ripoff, Turn-On; which I actually watched on the one night that it had aired (my parents probably didn't know it-it was pretty racy for the time). I had probably seen him in episodes of The Rat Patrol, The Monkees, or The Good Guys (six degrees of Bob Denver!). Then, at least 25 years later, I happened to dig out that record and play it again, and was blown away by that particular side. Curious, and also in keeping with my longtime WB/R collecting obsession, I went to eBay and found a copy of Here's To You,which I won and listened to a few times. I didn't get that same "Star Spangled Bus" rush, but it was a solid album just the same.

I had recently seen him in an episode or two of Desperate Housewives,so it seemed like he was in demand as a performer until the end. Here's hoping he's on that Star Spangled Bus to a happy destination.

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