Well, it's not every post in which I get to say, "And included in this playlist is a lovely 1957 number from The Monster That Challenged the World." So I'm saying it now. I'll never have another chance. The performance is credited to Bill Fontaine with Orchestra and Chorus, so Bill must be the harmonica player. Record collector's logic, in action. I've seen the flick, and it's much better than the title might suggest, with a couple of excellent shock moments where you know the monster is going to show up, but when and where and from what camera angle, you don't know. I recall that the giant mollusks in the film are not full of love--quite the reverse--so we can assume this is a love theme for humans. (Record collector's intuition, again.) That, plus I found this page. I'll never again get to type anything like, "Here's a lovely number from The Monster That Challenged the World." And that's too bad. I might even do this post over again, just so I can relive the moment. Damn, this feels good.
And we have a cheap but excellent fake version of Johnny Ray's Cry on the Tops label, and I really made the thing sound a lot better than it does. Not sure how I manged it, but I gave it a nice bottom and good definition in the treble without any tinny effect. Mimi Martel does a good job, though next to Ray, she sounds like a singer on benzos. Sherri Lynn's magnificent Tops label cover of I Want You to Be My Baby is better than the Lillian Briggs hit, and how often did Tops top an original? It's better in every respect, and the fidelity puts the YouTube posting of Briggs' version to shame. All of this is only my opinion, but I hold my opinion in high regard.
Then Eileen Scott shows up and sounds more like Rosemary Clooney than Rosemary Clooney on Mambo Italiano. Was Eileen the real Rosemary? Then the fabulous Open the Door Polka from 1949, with lyrics (I guess you could call them that) which would never go down today. This is followed by Artie Malvin doing an okay cover of Tony Bennett's Close Your Eyes--not bad at all. I'm searching for a pun on the title, but with no luck. Artie again, with a good High Noon, the singer doing a perfectly decent Frankie Laine. Sunny Gale's Come Go with Me doesn't do it for me, but it's an interesting oddity. I think it was Prom, but one of the cheapies did a much better copy. I just listened to another side by Gale, and Come Go with Me just didn't go with her.
Then it's Mitch Miller, with Stan Freeman on the harpsichord, followed by two sides of a Paulette Sisters single. The 1952 sound on the Paulette sides is gorgeous, and I don't care that Sui Sin Fa is way un-PC today--I like it. Not crazy about the flip, Glow-Worm, which copies the Mills Brothers' hit version of the same year, but here it is. It's so synthetic in its jive element, and it fails to swing. But the public loved it--the Mills version, anyway--so what do I know. Just read that Johnny Mercer did the revised lyrics. Very below par for him.
And for the weirdest offering of the bunch--it's 1954, and famed rock and roll hater Mitch Miller permits a (lousy) cover of Oop Shoop on his label, with a creepy and lewd flip made all the moreso by the fact the Hamilton Sisters are clearly not of age. My God. Is this record for real? And Mitch, of all people, choosing such limited vocalists--the lead on Oop Shoop is pathetic. Mitch usually went for singers with actual pipes. Oddly enough, I've seen this record listed for serious money. I would think Mitch would have paid serious money to bribe discographers not to list it. Not to be missed. The lyrics of Do You Wanna Ride? make so little effort to hide what they're about, I'm surprised it isn't Do You Wanna Screw? It makes Sixty Minute Man sound like I Believe. Anymore, everything we think we knew about Mitch is shown to be myth. (Myth Miller?)
I dreamed this record. I had to. It doesn't exist. No--just played it again. It exists. An alternate universe is overlapping with ours or something.
Tokyo Boogie Woogie, from 1946, is pretty well known to collectors, I think, but it's a great side, and I got nice sound out of it. It's a 1953 issue on U.S. Columbia. And a lively Square Dance Polka by Carson Robison, with me doing a last-minute removal of its flip, Promenade Indian Style, on account of a certain viral video of the moment. The Robison is actually harmless fun, but 1952-style fun, and this is 2019. Statler was a dance class record label, and I'm guessing the Statler version of Rock Around the Clock is from the early 1970s, when the tune became famous again in its function as the Happy Days opening theme. Or whatever I just typed. I remember that time period pretty vividly--early rock and roll was out, and progressive rock was in, with FM the coolest thing in town (they played entire LP sides!), and this is why I grew up with little knowledge of anything pre-Manfred Mann. I swear I never heard anything beyond snippets by Elvis until I met John and Bev--there was a greatest hits commercial on TV, but that was it. I don't remember when malt shop nostalgia started, though I remember when the Beach Boys were suddenly in again, with Endless Summer. People seem to gloss over the whole period of rock disowning its early days, but I sure remember it. Anyway, you'll notice that the singer on this dance-class Rock Around the Clock disc clearly doesn't know the melody, meaning that, yes, there was a time when the early classics were as ancient to Boomers as Tommy Dorsey's Song of India. Real rock was serious; none of this silly early stuff.
Update: Buster reminded me that the Boomer period was pretty broad and that Boomers before me experienced early r&r. I keep forgetting I was born about the middle of the generation span (1957). The early-rock blackout happened on my watch. I didn't properly qualify things....
We close with Pat Patterson doing That's All Right, but he's copying Marty Robbins, not Elvis. Sorry. I have no idea what's with the very heavy rumble during the piano solo--probably a poorly placed microphone.
CLICK HERE TO HEAR: Various singles, Part 2
Cry--Mimi Martel and the Toppers (Tops 317; 1952)
I Want You to Be My Baby--Sherri Lynn w. Nat Charles and His Orch. (Tops)
Mambo Italiano--Eileen Scott w. the Four Jacks and Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1097; 1954)
Open the Door Polka--Larry Fotine and His Orch. (Decca 24647, 1949)
Close Your Eyes--Artie Malvin w. Vincent Lopez Orch. (18 Top Hits 148)
High Noon--Artie Malvin w, the Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus (Waldorf Record Corp. P 111)
Come Go with Me--Sunny Gale w. Orch. Dir. by Sid Bass (Decca 9-30231; 1957)
Full of Love (From "The Monster That Challenged the World")--Bill Fontaine, 1957
Bolero Gaucho--Mitch Miller and His Orch., w. Stan Freeman, harpsichord (Columbia 4-40655, 1956)
Sui Sin Fa--The Paulette Sisters w. Larry Clinton Orch., 1952
The Glow-Worm--The Paulette Sisters and Dick Style w. Larry Clinton Orch.
Tell Your Tale, Nightingale--Toni Arden w. Percy Faith and his Orch., 1952
Oop Shoop--The Hamilton Sisters (Columbia 4-40319; 1954)
Do You Wanna Ride--The Hamilton Sisters (Columbia 40319; 1954)
Maybellene--Jack Daniels w. Herbie Layne's Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1135; 1955)
Square Dance Polka (Robison)--Carson Robison and his Pleasant Valley Boys, 1952
Tokyo Boogie Woogie--Shizuko Kasagi w. Columbia Tokyo Orch. (1946)
House of Blue Lights--Artie Malvin w. the Light Brigade (Waldorf, 1955)
Rock Around the Clock--Unknown (Statler 933)
That's All Right--Pat Patterson with the Texas Wranglers (Tops R255; 1954)