On The Ship Of Love (Shoo Rah)
"Ship Of Love" (T. Lynn)
Tamiya Lynn, from Tamiya Lynn, 1992
Tamiya Lynn’s atmospheric “Ship Of Love” uses as its departure and end points lyrics similar to what Fats Domino and Chris Kenner worked with on their rather innocent Shoora Rah songs (“front to front”, “side to side”, “back to back”, “go kiss your lover”, all with “Shoo Rah” repeated between them); but her song’s yearning vocal over primal percussion takes us into an exotic, sensual interpretation of those phrases that builds as she adds her own lyrics and steers us away from childhood into the realm of romantic love. Again, it would be interesting to know if she was re-inventing r&b songs that she undoubtedly heard in the 1960’s, or drawing on an earlier source from childhood. The chant-like nature of this tune tempts me to keep seeking something from the playgrounds of mid-20th century New Orleans to explain the mystery of Shoo Rah.
Although I don’t know how she got hooked up with them, there are some great musicians from the British jazz-fusion group, Fire Merchants, on her eponymous album, Tamiya Lynn . Jack Lancaster arranged the music, co-produced with Tamiya, and plays sax, keyboards and percussion on the CD. You won’t hear them on this song; but the remaining rhythm section is John Goodsall (guitar), Doug Lunn (bass), and Chester Thompson (drums). Among other notable sidemen and soloists is percussionist Paulinho Da Costa, who probably did contribute to this track. But even though the playing on the CD is top notch, and Lynn’s vocals are generally fine, the album never did much for me as a whole. The songwriting just doesn’t move me much, sorry to say. With its smooth jazz-inflected soul and funk with hints of Brazil, it should have worked better than it does. As it is long out of print, maybe you can find a copy used and judge for yourself.
So, this wraps up my Shoo Rah adventure. Hope you were at least entertained, if not fascinated with the subject. I left off one song by Mac Rebennack that appears on some of the demo recordings producer Huey Meaux released on him over the years. Mac (aka Dr. John) says that a lot of that stuff was just tracks of him and a piano that Meaux later overdubbed with a pick-up band and released after Dr. John got famous. Anyway, his Shoo Rah song has lyrics similar to what Domino and Kenner did, but is slow and bluesy. Tamiya Lynn (aka Tami Lynn) worked with Dr. John singing backup over the years; so there is another possible connection to her version. But the enigma of the origin remains.
I posted Ms Lynn's excellent cover of "Mojo Hanna" back on December 12, 2004; and my comments there tell you a bit more about her, if you're interested.