Sixteen tracks today--all fake hits, but all dating from before rock and roll became a regular presence in the pop charts, which I consider to be from 1956 on. Feel free to argue that point (some would name 1955), because I'm no record-charts expert. Rock and roll sides were making it into the pop charts prior to 1955/56, but not routinely. We need to remember, too, that in the popular press rock and roll and rhythm and blues were used interchangeably, so using charts to trace the progress of rock and roll isn't a foolproof way.
The only number in this list that I consider rock and roll is Leiber and Stoller's I Need Your Lovin', as it is credited here on the Parade label, though the proper title is Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin'). You'd think Parade would have stuck with Bazoom, to save space and ink. I guess they were cheapskates, not logicians.
Otherwise, I've kept to "pop" versions of "pop" hits, since the purpose of this post is to demonstrate that the postwar fake-hits boom (how's that for a phrase?) predates the rock era as we know it. I've traced the boom back to the late '40s with Tops and the Royale/Varsity/etc. family (and a fascinating graveyard of Tops/Royale wannabes), and I don't know of any earlier flood-the-market-with-cheap-copies period. The famous Depression-era "Hit of the Week" 78s were short-lived, and from approximately 1900-1940 (but more like the mid-'30s), there was a big market in budget-label re-pressings of major label sides (Silvertone, anyone?), so the notion of catering to a budget market was nothing new, but the postwar period seemed ideal for the surrogate-hit practice to invade the market--and flourish. Fake hits kept on coming through the 1960s, but not at anything like the same rate--I'm guessing that all the Beatles knock-off LPs helped create a mass distaste for sound-alikes. But that's only a guess--other factors (copyright issues, for one) were surely involved. Perhaps drug and grocery stores stopped displaying these things. Maybe the junk labels had to depend more and more on mail-order sales, which would remove the advantage of rack display and the resultant impulse purchases.
This playlist of sixteen titles was meant to cover the years 1948-1954, but I somehow forgot to add my 1948 Varsity label version of Buttons and Bows, so it starts with 1949. The recording years lean toward (and match) 1954 much moreso than I'd intended, but this is partly because I was working with 78s, and my earlier fake-hit 78s sound awful. And, come to think of it, there were likely far fewer of these in the earliest years, meaning far fewer survivors, especially on shellac. Anyway, a decent sampling, regardless, I think.
Thanks to the amazing website 45worlds, I have definite release years for most of these. No sure year for the Music Club Hit Tunes 78, though Come On-a My House, and My Truly, Truly Fair were two huge 1951 hits. So 1951 it probably is. The presence of Elliott Everett and His Orch. almost certainly makes this a Royale or Varsity reissue, or both. I may have the Royale 78, so stay tuned--its catalog number would tell me. Then again, there was no rhyme or reason to Varsity's numbering system, so....
A few of these were 45 rpm rips--I've noted them as such in the label info.
DOWNLOAD: Early fake hits (1949-1954)
Dragnet--Enoch Light and His Orch. (Prom 1056; 1953)
The Creep (Instr. and Vocal)--Larry Clinton and His Orch., v. The Carillons (Bell 1022; 1954)
Rags to Riches--Bud Roman w. Lew Raymond and His Orch. (Tops 380--45 rpm; 1953)
Kaw Liga--"Hap" Williams (Victory Extended Play Records BG1020; prob. 1953)
The Story of Three Loves--The Magic Strings (Bell 1015; 1954)
I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts--Jimmie Livingston Orch., v. "Skeets" Morris (1949 or 1950)
Underneath the Arches--The Blenders (Tops 106; 1949)
Till Then--Anne Lloyd, Carillons, w. Larry Clinton Orch. (Bell 1034; 1954)
Mambo Italiano--Mimi Martel w. The Four Rhythmaires (Tops R 249-49--45 rpm EP; 1954)
Come On-a My House--Elliott Everett and His Orch., no vocal credit (Music Club Hit Tunes 2; prob. 1951)
Cross Over the Bridge--Earl Sheldon/Hits a Poppin' Orch. (Parade 4501--45 rpm EP; prob. 1954)
I Need Your Lovin'--The Four Rhythmaires, Lew Raymond O. (Tops R 249-49--45 rpm EP; 1954)
Lover--Mimi Martel w. the Hal Loman Orch. (Tops 334; 1952)
I Get So Lonely--Hits a Poppin' Orch. w. Stars of Radio and Television (Parade 7802--78 rpm EP; prob. 1954)
My Truly, Truly Fair--Elliott Everett and His Orch., no vocal credit (Music Club Hit Tunes 2; prob. 1951)