Release Date: November 15th, 1961
Words by: Peter Berris
August 4th, 2012
'Shout bamalama' is a bit of an oddity. Recorded before Otis Redding's breakthrough single 'these arms of mine,' the song is hardly what most would consider indicative of 60s soul, or of the Redding sound. It bears far more similarity to the nonsense-themed rock tunes of the 1950s such as 'tutti frutti' or to any of the era's endless dance tunes, than it does to Redding classics like 'I can't turn you loose,' 'security,' 'I've been loving you too long,' or 'respect.'
That being said, discounting the recording as unimportant, or boring, would be a mistake. It is anything but. First of all, Redding certainly was most famous for serious/heartfelt tunes, but he never left a sense of humor and lightness completely behind. His later recordings of songs like 'the hucklebuck' and 'tramp' could certainly have come out of this tradition.
Secondly, this record is the perfect snapshot of the progression from one musical era to the next—between the original rock & rollers and R&B groups of the 50s, to the new sounds of Rock and R&B in the mid to later 60s. In terms of content and structure 'shout bamalama' certainly has its foot firmly in the past. The influence of Little Richard's original 50s output is unquestionable in the recording, and it should be noted that Little Richard actually had a modest hit with a similarly titled song called 'bama lama bama loo' (82 on the Hot 100 in 1964).
While the song itself may sound dated, Redding's performance is very much in line with his later soul recordings. He is singing with the attitude, passion, and force that would define soul music over the next eight years. This recording suggests that Redding was singing in a revolutionary style from the beginning, it just took a little while for everyone else to catch up.