Monday, January 02, 2006

On their way to stardom: Genuine Diamelles

The Genuine Diamelles, San Francisco's psychedelic glee club of the nineties, never put out a recording during their brief and dazzling existence. They opened for Bowie, delighting the headliner and his arena audience alike; they blew thousands of minds at the Hotel Utah, fifty at a time. They were like Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner, saying to us when the end was near, "if only you could see what I've seen with your eyes."

As the memory of the Diamelles began to fade, the members were engaged in new pursuits: Smelley (see entry for December 14) and Scott on to their new devotion, a "countrypolitan" outfit they called Red Meat, Deb staying close to home after about a decade singing and drumming, and junglebook holing up with his recording decks and a new dossier as DJ Junglebook.

Not too long ago some folks close to the group assembled a two CD retrospective, culling the studio demos and live recordings of this unique quartet of singers. As the set is once again out of print, I felt an urge to share a few impressive performances that really stand the test of time.

The first is a studio demo of four voices on microphones. The second is a live track of four voices with guitar. The third track is a solo performance by band member Scott Young, playing two brass instruments at once. You are liable to shake your head slowly and gape with wonder at one or more of these tracks.

Kashmir - Genuine Diamelles
Sesame Street - Genuine Diamelles
Yesterday - Genuine Diamelles

Web log Of DJ Junglebook
Web site of Red Meat band
Cool old A Capella thread w/ Genuine Diamelles info



Junglebook said...

Hey, thanks for the mention. It's nice that the old gang is growing a Google trail, retrospectively.

Just one correction - on "Yesterday", Scott isn't playing two instruments - it's just the euphonium, a small marching tuba. To get the harmony, he blows and fingers one part, the melody, while at the same time, he's singing - shrieking really - a harmony part as loud as he can into the euphonium *while he's blowing* - so he's singing one part and playing another.

The weird thing is, the changing length of the horn caused by fingering the melody means he has to sing one set of notes *which are transposed by the horn* into another set of notes. That is, he had to learn to sing a harmony part that was not only different from the melody he's simultaneously playing, but which is also different from the *sounds he was trying to make*, if you follow. He had to account for the effect of the played horn on the lines he was singing in addition to the line he was playing.

The guy really is a genius, and he did all of our vocal arrangements.

Another thread you might want to follow up on was a side project Smelley had during Red Meat, which was Smelley Kelley's Plain High Drifters. They had a pretty long run introducing and electrifying George Jones songs unto tattooed baby country fans around the Bay Area. I hear they broke up when the bass player joined Teatro Zinzanni. Go figure.

Great blog, I'm going to be posting some recollections from the old scene online myself pretty soon. I'll let you know when I've got something up.

Tickled to be here,

grayforester said...

Hey JB

Glad you found me here. Thanks for the correction on the euphonium trick. I guess that's something Rahsaan Roland Kirk with reed instruments and the flute, but I guess Scott had it that much harder what with having to account for the pitch change the tubing enforced upon his vocalizing. I knew he was a genius, but you can't tell folks a thing like that; they won't believe it till they witness it themselves.

I'm looking forward to your reminiscences of days gone by. Do send up a flare when it's time.


jenjjenj said...

Hi. Been loking for the Genuine Diamelles cover of Kashmir everywhere. Thought I had finally found it here but the link says "no shares files." Help! Where can I find it?