Shirley Ellis

The Name Game

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Television stars weren't the only entertainers who got typecast; for every Jerry Mathers (Leave It to Beaver), Gary Colman (Different Strokes), and Mr. Ed (Mr. Ed), the recording industry produced characters like Tiny Tim, Chubby Checker, and Shirley Ellis. Ellis started out singing soul, but after a debut LP on Congress went unnoticed, she came up with the gimmick on this sophomore album with hubby/manager Lincoln Chase of turning nursery rhymes and jump-rope sayings into popular songs. Make no mistake about it, "The Name Game" was a popular item, everybody sung the lyrics using their own nouns and pronouns in the rhyming scheme. "The Nitty Gritty" was less of a novelty, hit too. Give her producer credit, though; the many remakes are all unique -- "Bring It on Home to Me" has a strange arrangement owing little to Sam Cooke's original, "Shy One," a pop-ish ballad, is the most serious offering, well maybe "Stardust" too -- but most of these tunes, while well-executed, lack substance.

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