Thursday, July 09, 2020
Another Parade of Hits A' Poppin (Parade 5004; prob. 1954)
This is the second of the my Parade of Hits a Poppin' ten-inch LPs, with Earl Sheldon and "Stars of Radio and Television" (did that phrase originate here?) getting all the credit this time. Actually, Sheldon appears on only half of the numbers--the other four are backed by Enoch Light. The vocalists, not credited, are Loren Becker, Artie Malvin, Laurie Leslie, and Jerry Packer. And this is the same "Alessandro" artwork as last time, only with a red background. The more I study the cool period art, the stranger it seems. Study those circles.
Eight "full length HITS," and they're excellent fakes, as before. Not always, but typically Enoch Light's labels offered high quality tracks with better fidelity than that of other rack jobber labels (e.g., Tops, Music Masters, and the Synthetic Plastics Co. herd). Both Sides Now reports that Enoch started Waldorf Music Hall (home of 18 Top Hits, Waldrof Record Corp., and Top Hit Tunes) in 1953 or 1954, and I'm thinking it had to be 1954, as this is when he appears to have parted company with Parade and Prom. (This stuff gets complicated.) Prom became a Synthetic Plastics Co. label, and Parade... Well, I'm not sure about Parade. I'm also not sure about Discog's designation of "Hits A' Poppin'" as a label, which I don't think it was--it was a series, and I'm nearly certain SPC took it over post-Enoch Light. But my brain has reached its cheap-label-information storage limit, and a recorded voice is telling me to "Turn back! Turn back!" It's best to obey, because these details get epic. When it comes to keeping track of who did what, the chief problem is the budget-label tradition of hiding company info (as if these guys were engaged in some kind of tax dodge, which I wouldn't rule out as a possibility). I even have some early 1960s fake-hits singles on which no label name of any kind is offered. (For all I know, they came from a fake-hits vending machine.) And the various series names--"Parade of Hits," "Top Hits," "Tops in Pops"--were generic. Even the Cadence and Capitol labels had a "Tops Hits" series, which featured the labels' artists covering the latest hits--Mercury and Columbia used its pop singers in the same fashion. Small world.
Everyone, from the cheapest of the chepies to the big labels, was guilty of trying to wring every last penny from every last hit, and it's almost as if... as if the music biz was a for-profit industry. One does get that impression. Hm. I thought it was a charity.
Anyway, not a bad track in today's bunch, and I especially like the spirited Cross Over the Bridge version, which anyone would have known was a copy of Patti Page, even if that person lived in a culture in which Patti Page had never been introduced. ("It is Patti Page. I don't know who she is, but somehow I know this is an imitation of her. She sounds something like our big star, Zardee Mlekksoros.") The Darktown Strutters' Ball is a very good copy of Lou "Pepino the Italian Mouse" Monte's hit version, and this incredibly catchy and famous number goes back to 1917, a year when words like "blacktown" were just part of the pop vocabulary. It's one of those numbers that became so familiar and so often performed that its racist nature became an overlooked thing, I guess. Not sure how it would go down nowadays. And while There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight is a Hank Williams classic, we're not hearing a cover of Hank here--it's Tony Bennett's hit pop version being copied. And Artie Malvin had a very different voice than Tony Bennett (and vice versa), but he does an adequate cover. I think both singers were a bit at sea with this kind of material, but the jazzy arrangement works for me. I just love this period of pop, even though it predates me. I grew up with the Beatles, Beach Boys, then the horrors of 1970s Top 40, but I feel more at home in the period just before Elvis. Maybe I was reincarnated. I don't believe in such stuff, but who knows?
Quality fakes on cheap vinyl (the kind of rock-hard plastic that feels like shellac), with incredibly cool cheap packaging. I think I coaxed some good sound out of this early rack-jobber relic. Enjoy!
DOWNLOAD: Parade of Hits A'Poppin' (Parade 5004; prob. 1954)
A Girl, A Girl (Zoom-Ba, Di Alli Nella) (Benjamin-Weiss-Bandini)--Loren Becker w. Earl Sheldon's Orch. and Chorus
Amenra E Core (Manlio-Curtis-d'Esposito-Akst)--Same
Cross Over the Bridge (Benjamin-Weiss)--Laurie Leslie w. Earl Sheldon's Orch.
Melancholy Me (Thomas-Biggs)--Jerry Packer w. Earl Sheldon's Orch. and the Packers
The Darktown Strutters' Ball (Shelton Brooks)--Artie Malvin w. the Light Brigade
There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight (Hank Williams)--Same
Wanted (J. Fulton-L. Steele)--Loren Becker w. Enoch Light Orch. and Chorus
Young at Heart (J. Richards-C. Leigh)--Same
Parade of Hits A' Poppin' (Parade 5004; prob. 1954)