With the holidays just around the corner, there's one question we're all busy with: Did Enoch Light look to other sources for his Top Hit Tunes sound-alikes prior to the buyout of his labels by Ampar in late 1959? Well, the answer appears to be... yes, definitely. Lose sleep no more--today's playlist gives us a fascinating glimpse into the period just before Enoch Light said goodbye to Waldorf. Oh, and a brief look at the period after he parted ways (one of today's three EPs is from 1961).
As usual, I started this short project with the expectation that I'd be done in a day or two--and that was four days ago. I never learn. These things always take more time than I anticipate, since they usually involve hunting down the co-appearances of any familiar-sounding fakes. Such as, in this case, the Top Hit Tunes versions of Tiger, Personality, Battle of New Orleans, and Maybe Baby, all tracks I knew that I'd heard before.
The "Fred Pringle" version of Tiger (Top Hit Tunes TH-19-2; 1959) also appears on the Evon label's Let's All Do the Twist LP (Evon 351), only credited to one Stumpy Andersen--and pitched between a quarter and half tone higher. I've included the Evon LP track at its original speed, and in a second file that I repitched to match the EP. The LP version, while slightly faster in speed, is longer--which is to say, not edited down. Evon was part of the junkpile fake-RCA group that included Royale, Ultraphonic, Allegro, Halo, and Varsity, and your guess is as good as mine as to why Waldorf was sharing releases with the fake RCA. Tiger is a terrific fake of a great original (Fabian couldn't sing, but he had superb backing on his hits), even if the anonymous bandmembers didn't bother to tune up beforehand.
Personality shows up on a Bravo (Pickwick) Tops in Pops LP, where it's credited to the likely fictitious Bobby Krane Orchestra and Chorus, so you get the shortened Top Hit Tunes cut, plus the longer LP cut in both its original and repitched form. And here's where we see that, once again, logic played no part in anything related to budget sound-alikes. Namely, we have a situation in which either the LP dub has been sped up or the EP dub has been slowed down. (Don't ask me how they accomplished this in the days of reel to reel technology, unless someone simply wrapped tape around the capstan.) Wouldn't it have made sense to speed up the EP version to conserve space?
Same bit for Maybe Baby, which Top Hit Tunes co-released with the Gateway Top Tunes label--and at a slightly faster speed. Again, why? I added the Gateway track (from a fairly beat 78) at its original and repitched speeds. Battle of New Orleans, poorly sung on Top Hit Tunes by "Jim Forrest," also appeared on Bravo, with the usual Bobby Krane credit. This time, both tracks were almost the same speed, so I did no repitching.
Confused yet? Just imagine me, putting this stuff together. The final six-selection Top Hit Tunes EP, from 1961, contains Pickwick material--in all probability, we're hearing some of these tracks. I'd rate my certainty level at 99.5 percent--unfortunately, I only own one EP from the Bobby Krane Bravo set, and it's not the one I need, so I can't be totally sure. Just nearly almost definitely certain.
From the Universal Records label, which is misidentified at Discogs (leaving me with no idea who they were), we have an even worse version of Book of Love than the Top Hit Tunes fake by "The Troubadors"--so, enjoy. Speaking of awful, I was initially stunned by what seemed like the very low quality of the "Pony Timers" Blue Moon fake, but after fixing up the muddy fidelity and giving it a second listen, I've decided it could be a lot worse. It's not up to the fake that appeared on Tops, SPC, and who knows where else, but it's not bad, and I wish I could locate an LP dub. Besides Book of Love, the only other truly awful fake is Dottie Evans' Lollipop, which must not be as easy to copy as it sounds. "Buddy Hall" is no Perry Como, and his Kewpie Doll fake is a let's-get-this-over-with type of knockoff, but I have a fondness for this imitation-Elvis number, so...And Hearts of Stone is a fake of the Bill Black Combo instrumental of 1961, and it's harmless fun
I can't account for the two Bobby Byrne big-band-days-revisited-style tracks. I guess they were just space-fillers. And you've got to love the "Henry and Larry" credit on La Plume de Ma Tante, which I'm happy to say I have zero memory of, hit-parade-wise.
DOWNLOAD: Yet More Top Hit Tunes (1959-1961)
Tiger--Fred Pringle (Top Hit Tunes TH-32-3)
Johnson Rag--Bobby Byrne and His Orch. (Same)
Battle of New Orleans--Jim Forrest (Same)
Personality--George Clark (Same)
Sunrise Serenade--Bobby Byrne and His Orch. (Same)
La Plume de Ma Tante--Henry and Larry (Same)
Tiger (LP version, pitched higher than EP)--Stumpy Andersen and His Stompers (Evon 351)
Tiger (LP version, repitched)--Same
Personality (LP version, pitched higher than EP)--Bobby Krane Orch. and Chorus (Bravo K101 B)
Battle of New Orleans (LP version)--Bob Krane Orch. and Chorus (Bravo K101 B)
Lollipop--Dottie Evans w. Enoch Light and His Orch. (Top Hit Tunes TH-19-2)
Book of Love--The Troubadors (Same)
Kewpie Doll--Buddy Hall (Same)
Maybe Baby--The Songsters (Same)
Stairway of Love--Hal Willis (Same)
Are You Sincere--Johnny Roland (Same)
Maybe Baby (Gateway Top Tune dub)--The Four Jacks w. Chorus and Orch. (Gateway Top Tune 1243; 1958)
Maybe Baby (Repitched)--(Same)
Hearts of Stone--Lee Patrick's Boys (Top Hit Tunes PH-60-2)
Watusi--The Susanaires (Same)
Blue Moon--The Pony Timers (Same)
Asia Minor--Christopher Cummings (Same)
Think Twice--Brother Ray (Same)
I Don't Want to Cry--Neil Nuttingham (Same)
Book of Love (From LP)--Vocal Stars of Radio and Television w. Famous Orchestras (Universal Records LPU-6001)