“Oh, wow!” Song Of The Day: The Electric Indian – Keem-O-Sabe (1969)


keem o sabe

Yep, it’s another forgotten instrumental, this one with ties to other songs featured here, a famous blue-eyed soul duo and, if you really want to stretch it, the Beatles. 

Philadelphia had been a hotbed of musical activity at least since Dick Clark began hosting “American Bandstand” there in the 50’s.  Record labels such as Chancellor, Swan, and especially Cameo-Parkway chalked up a ton of hits in the late 50’s and early 60’s, and Swan Records, co-founded by Bernie Binnick, actually had the original U.S. rights to the Beatles’ single “She Loves You.”  That alone kept the label afloat for three years, but Swan finally called it quits in 1967.

Bernie Binnick

At the time, native American culture had attained a new popularity in the media, which inspired Binnick to write today’s featured song and, with Len Barry, assemble a crack team of Philadelphia studio musicians to record it.  It would not be wrong to say that the Electric Indian was The Assembled Multitude was MFSB – they all worked out of the famed Sigma Sound Studios and formed the backbone of the Philly sound, much like the Funk Brothers of Motown or Stax’s Booker T. and the MG’s.  We recently featured an early pairing of this group of musicians with the famed team of Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff here.  Among the members of the Electric Indian were keyboardist Daryl Hall, who would go on to greater things after meeting John Oates, and guitarist Frank Virtue.  You’ll also note the song was arranged by Tom Sellers, whom we’ve met here and here.  Wow, this Philly music’s rather inbred, isn’t it?

The song reached #16 in September 1969, and one copy of this record was sold to my mother, who played it quite a bit.  They did record an album which yielded one more single, a rather poor cover of “Land Of A Thousand Dances,” which rocketed all the way to #95.  You would hear these guys throughout the 70’s, backing groups like the Stylistics and the Spinners – the nucleus of the sound of Philadelphia.  So let’s listen to our featured song, with a title and artist that definitely wouldn’t fly today.  When you hear it, you’ll remember the Electric Indian with “Keem-O-Sabe.”

What the hell – you wanna hear their version of “Land Of A Thousand Dances?”  Knock yourself out:

Um…yeah.  Tune in again next time for another forgotten favorite that’ll make you say “oh, wow!”



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