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)



Eric said...

Thanks. As far as the cover art, Enoch Light often had attractive covers. The Grand Award covers were lovely and the Command covers were 'groovy'. Grand Award had a series of instrumental recitals he called the Instructional Series, that was wonderful.
AAS 33 701 - Leonard Smith Plays the Cornet - Leonard Smith [1958]
AAS 33 702 - Robert McGinnis Plays the Clarinet - Robert McGinnis [1958]
AAS 33 703 - Sigurd Rascher Plays the Saxophone, Volume 1 - Sigurd Raschler [1958]
AAS 33 704 - James Chambers Plays the French Horn - James Chambers [1958]
AAS 33 705 - William Kincaid Plays the Flute, Volume 1 - William Kincaid [1958]
AAS 33 706 - William Kincaid Plays the Flute, Volume 2 - William Kincaid [1958]
AAS 33-707 - Charles Magnante Plays the Accordion
AAS 33 708 - Sigurd Rascher Plays the Saxophone, Volume 2

Eric said...

The lyrics of the Shelton Brooks classic were updated many years ago to "Downtown Strutters Ball".
I studied these covers with fascination when I was young. Another favorite was the Gilbert and Sullivan covers on London with the yellow and blue stripes and the lovely drawings depicting the Savoy operas.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

I have a couple of early Enoch Light LPs on Command with lovely painted covers. I've been meaning to maybe put them up at some point, but I have what you might call colliding posts going on at this blog. That is, I usually have three or four things in progress at any one time. Sometimes, projects get lost! Didn't know that about "Downtown Strutters' Ball," though i see on line it's also still recorded with the original title. The cleaning up of racially incorrect lyrics would make a fun book. From "N-words all work on the Mississippi" (Show Boat) to the "darkies" beatin' their feet on the Mississippi Mud, and the Barbershop standard (still going, as far as I know), "Way Down Yonder in the Cornfield," which I have in two early versions, one with "colored" as a noun ("a colored won't steal...") and the other with the N-word. Pop-cultural traditions come and go in a totally nonlinear fashion--blackface shows were still happening in the 1970s, and they were standard things in the 1950s. I know that old sitcoms have had to have such moments edited out. Once something becomes a tradition, no one thinks about whether it's right or wrong--it just is. Then, at some point, people go, "WHAT??" Sheet music is one of my interest areas, too--it was my main thing at one point--so I've seen the least correct of the least correct. And tons of original lyrics. On an unrelated note, I even have a hymnal containing the drab Haydn melody originally used for "Onward, Christian Soldiers." The one Arthur Sullivan rescued us from. I have a partial scan and the hymn number, but finding it would mean going through several hundred books. You knew, of course, that Arthur Sullivan wrote some standard hymn tunes. I'm going to put up one, two (or maybe all) of my 45/78 rpm Hits A' Poppin' discs, which had different cover art--very tacky but cool art. I'll have to see if the "Alessandro" credit is on them. Lost at the moment is a trashed 78 rpm HAP with some rock titles. It confuses things more than a little, because it's from 1955, and by all logic Light should have been off of Parade Records by that time. It's unreal. Pretty much, every thing I read on line about budget label history has to be presumed to be doubtful until shown incorrect. I think we can logically conclude that the cheapies, being knock-offs meant for sale in hardware stores, check-out lines, etc., were casually and carelessly produced. Hence, we have inconsistencies which would be a serious matter of concern if the subject was the major operations. But the cheapies didn't operate by strict rules or principles. I always make the joke that they saved money on quality control by not having any. Hope you like this one!

Lee Hartsfeld said...

I meant that the 45/78 rpm Hits A' Poppin' series had different standard art--a crudely drawn (or painted?) couple, and I forget what else. It's delightfully campy period art.

Ernie said...

All the original comments seem to have disappeared... :(

Buster said...

"Alessandro" would seem to be Alex Steinweiss.

Lee Hartsfeld said...


The comments seem to be back. Do you mean in this thread?

And, boy, did I write a novel (above) instead of an answer. Good grief. I wasn't even buzzed on caffeine....


I wonder. I was considering that possibility, too. But it could have been someone using Steinweiss' style, no?

Buster said...

Lee - It's possible, but he did work for other budget labels such as Remington, also this cover has his stylistic hallmarks and is signed in his "Steinweiss scrawl."

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Yes, I'd just read that he did covers for Remington. I think you're correct--this is him, moonlighting, maybe.

Ernie said...

My original comment where I said this looked just like a Steinweiss is gone...

Cool to hear that it may actually be him under a pseudonym. It really does scream of his style, even though I couldn't possibly describe his style to you. :)

Ernie said...

Hmmm, Alessandro just happens to be the Italian version of Alexander, as in Alexander Steinweiss. You may be onto something here, though I don't see any mention of a connection in a quick Google search. If anyone wants to buy me a copy of the BIG book that collects most of his covers, I'd be happy to do more research. :)

Lee Hartsfeld said...

Ernie--Mystery solved: your Steinweiss comment was in the previous post. Easy to confused these two posts, since the LP jackets are identical!

Interesting Alessandro/Alexander link.

Ernie said...

Oh, I didn't even notice it was a new post! My bad. :(