Thursday, June 17, 2021

Top 30 Tunes, or, Pickwick strikes again!


One great thing about budget fake-hit sets--the wealth of information on the labels.  I mean, here we have a series called "Top 30 Tunes" (which my brain has stored as "30 Top Tunes"), and it has an inconsistent cataloging scheme, and...  That's it.  That's all we know.  However, through some track comparison with Pickwick-issued EPs, I've determined that (big surprise) Pickwick was responsible for these--Pickwick seemed to be everywhere about this time.  It was doing the old sell-the-same-tracks-in-as-many-editions-as-possible trick--a trick that must have worked, since it was practiced so religiously by the junk labels.  If a junk-label exec was playing a word-association game, circa 1962, it would go something like: "Sales tactic."  "Multiple disguises, same tracks."

So, I recently found thirteen (or so) of these in a local flea market, and they're not in the greatest shape, but at 50 cents a pop, I figured I "needed" them.  Some fun stuff here, all pretty professional-sounding--the safest conclusion is that these were studio pros working on the cheap and as quickly as possible (five songs, then a coffee break).  No time to get things sounding good--they were aiming for adequate, not good.  It was a little disappointing to discover that Surfin' Safari and a few other tracks are the same performances contained on This Month's 16 Top Hits, which was released on Canada's Allied Record Corporation, an outfit which apparently swapped tapes with Pickwick.  Small world.  I was really hoping for a fresh Surfin' Safari fake, but sometimes our dreams get dashed.  And, looking at these label scans, I have to wonder what the packets looked like--that is, the cheap containers these came with, since these are probably mail-order items that were stuffed into a single envelope.  The rule in record collecting, when it comes to singles (even singles in a set) is that the vinyl typically outlives the sleeves.  So, we are left with half an historical record, no pun intended.

These hits are all "before my time"--meaning, specifically, about a year prior to my first Top 40 radio memories.  So, I either know these as oldies or not at all.  For instance, I'd never heard the Carole King song Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby until I went on my vintage Carole King kick (say that 30 times) about 20 years ago.  Meanwhile, there's a chance I remember The Four Seasons' Sherry first hand, though it was on regular oldies play throughout my youthhood, and only because I was nuts about that group when I was 5 and 6 (I defected to The Beach Boys about 1964--sorry, Frankie!).  Burt Bacharach's Only Love Can Break a Heart is one I remember as an oldies-play regular, and ditto for Dream Baby; Hully Gully, Baby; Green Onions; and especially If You Wanna Be Happy, which was also a hit in 1949 (?) when the Leonard De Paur Infantry Chorus recorded it under the title, Ugly Woman.  Back to Carole King--or, more specifically, Gerry Goffin and Carole King--both It Might as Well Rain Until December and When My Little Girl Is Smiling were discovered by me during my Carole King kick--not the slightest earlier memory of either.  And I love "Carole King kick."  As far as I know, September (performed by Carole herself) was a demo that was deemed good enough for single release--and, sure enough, it was.  Good enough, I mean.  As a Carole fan, I very much prefer her ingenious numbers for other groups--the pre-solo material.  Not sure why, but her solo stuff never really did it for me.  However, I do regard her as the most versatile, and probably the most gifted, rock and roll songwriter of them all.  Minus her influence, neither the Beatles nor the Beach Boys would have sounded at all the same--so I was thrilled when the Beach Boys did Carole's Just Once in My Life, which was so memorably recorded by the Righteous Brothers.  And Just Once a rare example of a copy-cat tune (it was obviously a You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' cash-in) which vastly improves on the song it imitates.  Just my take.  And, here I am, going on about a song that doesn't even appear in our playlist.

I first heard Another Saturday Night in the Cat Stevens version, and, at the time, I didn't know it was a remake.  Do You Love Me, I originally knew from the 1964 Dave Clark Five version, though I like the original better, even in its fake version.  (There's nothing like appreciating an original in its fake edition.)

Ain't That a Shame, a 1963 Four Seasons hit (a "reworking" of Fats Domino's 1955 hit), was the big surprise in this haul--in this fake version, at least, it sounds so Beatles-esque in performance, it's practically an anticipation of the Brit Invasion sound.  Condition was NTG (not so good), so I had to do a lot of cleaning up.  Luckily, the vocals are loud.  Pipeline is an instrumental I've known forever, and I never knew the title until long after it had premiered.  I'm sure I knew it from oldies play, and not first-hand.  And, somehow, it's like I've always been familiar with the ultra-un-PC Speedy Gonzales, that 1962 Pat Boone Top 10 novelty.  I was five in 1962, so maybe--just maybe--I remember it from the car radio.  Or maybe, even, from my great grandmother's tall antique radio.  Speaking of which, I have the fondest, warmest memories possible of first hearing Don't Worry Baby on that 1930s radio.  That tune always brings me back to the time my brother and I lived with Grandma Clara.

Johnny Gets Angry may sound more logical than Johnny Get Angry, but the "Gets" is a Top 30 Tunes typo, which I kept because I like it, I guess.  Hal David did the lyrics, as we learned in my Hal David centenary post.  Johnny Get Angry is a title that doesn't make much sense until you hear the words.  A comma and exclamation point might have helped.  ("Johnny, get angry!")

All selections by "Unknown Artist."  As mentioned before, these are all professionally done but, of course, rushed.  Few of these fakes can be called inspired--we'd hardly expect them to be--but they're incredibly fun.  Fun in that way that only budget copycat hits can claim to be.  Since it seemed fitting, I chose 30 of the Top 30 Tunes selections, though a trio of tracks comes from a related Pickwick label called Top Tunes.  I guess Pickwick dropped the "30."

Oh, boy--now I get to type out all thirty selections...  Enjoy!

DOWNLOAD: Top 30 Tunes (1961-1962)

FAKELIST (All issued without artist credits...)

Only Love Can Break a Heart (Bacharach-David)     Top 30 Tunes MO-15
Surfin (sic) Safari (Wilson-Love)
He's a Rebel
Ain't That a Shame                                                      Top 30 Tunes MO-29
Baby Workout
Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby (King-Goffin)
If You Wanna Be Happy                                              Top 30 Tunes MO-25
Take These Chains From My Heart (Hank Williams)
Hot Pastrami
I Will Follow Him
Another Saturday Night
Speedy Gonzalez                                                          Top 30 Tunes 10
Devil Woman
Dancin (sic) Party
Johnny Gets (sic) Angry (David-Edwards)
Sealed With a Kiss
Hully Gully, Baby
Do You Love Me                                                           Top 30 Tunes 7
It Might as Well Rain Until September (King-Goffin)
Ballad of Palladin
Your Nose Is Gonna Grow
Good Luck Charm
Lover Please
Green Onions                                                                 Top 30 Tunes 6
Dear One                                                                        Top Tunes 3-45
When My Little Girl Is Smiling (King-Goffin)
Dream Baby




Anonymous said...

RobGems68 Wrote:
"Don't Say Nothing Bad About My Baby" was originally done by The Cookies as the follow-up to their "Chains" (covered by The Beatles) hit from 1963. It was originally issued on Don Kirshner's Dimension label, a subsidiary of Colpix Records and distribution by Screen Gems/Columbia TV Productions (yeah, that company known for their infamous "S From Hell" film sprocket logo from 1965 that supposedly frightened a lot of child viewers, but is considered an urban legend.) Don Kirshner was the man that thought Carole King's "It Might As Well Rain Until September" was good enough to issue internationally as a single, and he was right about it, despite Carole's claims she "wasn't a professional singer", and wanted to give to give the song to Bobby Vee at the time; fortunately for us, Vee didn't get to do the song. Still, it took her until 1971 with the "Tapestry" album to really prove she can be a superstar as a singer as well as a songwriter. Three songs I noticed on this list would be very un-PC today, and would probably have protests if played on Oldies stations: :Johnny Get Angry" (about dealing with Johnny's partiachry! Uh-Oh..), "Speedy Gonzales" (Mel Blanc's voice on the original was the best thing about that record, though I know that certainly isn't him on this fake-hit version.), which the Mexican-American community will no doubt complain about. The "If You Wanna Be Happy" record to me is one of the most obnoxious #1 hit records in the history of Billboard/Cash Box's ratings. It was an old calypso standard that was catchy in it's beat, but the misogyny is baffling in it's lyrics. If played on today's oldies stations, this song would get a lot of flack from the so-called "woke" crowd. One more song is notable: "You're Nose Is Gonna Grow" was a Top 20 hit at the time (1962) for the now-deceased TV Star (of "The Rifleman") and then-Teen Idol for Bob Keene's Del-Fi Records, the late Johnny Crawford. For your Information about these records:

1.) "It Might As Well Rain Until September" (Carole King) (Dimension Records # 2000) (Billboard Chart # 22, September 22, 1962.)
2.)"Johnny Get Angry" (Joannie Sommers) (Warner Brothers Records # 5275) (Billboard Chart #7, June 6, 1962.)
3.) "Speedy Gonzales" (Pat Boone with Mel Blanc) (Dot Records # 16368) (Billboard Chart #6, June 30, 1962.)
4.) "If You Wanna Be Happy" (Jimmy Soul) (S.P.Q.R. Records # 3305) (Billboard Chart # 1, April 20, 1963) (How it got to #1 for two weeks, your guess is as good as mine.)
5.) "Your Nose Is Gonna Grow" (Del-Fi Records # 4181) (Billboard Chart# 14, August 25, 1962.)
Thank You.

Bob said...

There is a musical notation printed on label. Any idea of the tune, if played?

Ernie said...

Whew, that's quite a workout. I so rarely see vinyl at the flea markets, I rarely bother to look. Had some good luck at an antique mall last weekend, but it's still very hit or miss.

Lee Hartsfeld said...

RobGems68: I have that Cookies single, but I forgot the group's name and didn't feel like digging through my Carole King/Burt B. 45 crate to find it. (Everything in this small room is hemmed in!) Yes, the Beatles' version was the first I ever heard--it was a long time before I knew Carole King had penned it. King's demos are all great, and I agree with her that her voice is not Grade-A, but her superb musicality makes up for that fact. Plus, there are way worse vocalists. "Johnny Get Angry" can be looked at in an innocent, teen sort of light, I think--the singer just wishes her boyfriend would be more assertive. Nowadays, we hear it as an ode to male dominance, but... that was 1962 and, as you know, the going theme was that women wanted take-charge men. And I was going to sarcastically refer to "Happy" as a feminist anthem. I hadn't looked up "Your Nose...," so I didn't know it was Johnny Crawford. Thanks for the stats.

Bob: I just played the melody, and it doesn't sound like much of anything. Plus, the note values don't make any sense (eighth note rest followed by a whole note rest, for ex.). I think they were just filling notes for effect. But thanks for alerting me to that "melody"--I hadn't noticed that the notes were on a regular staff. Too bad it's not a real melody.

Ernie: I see a decent amount of vinyl in flea markets and shows, but not to the degree I used to. I reckon there is less of it these days. I think there's as much second-hand vinyl as ever, but lots of it is going on eBay. And, yes, extracting 30 tracks from this haul (less than half the tracks on the EPs) was a lot of work. Some tracks were too hammered to save, but overall these were in surprisingly not-bad shape. They were in a box of 45s, and for once most of the 45s had sleeves. Well, many did, anyway. That's unusual.

krobigraubart said...

There's a problem with Workupload.
Any chance for a re-upload please?

Lee Hartsfeld said...


I just re-uploaded, and it's working now. I thought the problem was with the entire site, but then I realized the problem was with this specific link. Let me know if it's working for you now. Sorry about that!

Bryan said...

Hi Lee, Sorry for this late, really late thank you.
Just saying thanks for this collection. I really love this version of "Your Nose Is Gonna Grow". I put it on repeat for over an hour. One of my favorites.
I also love how they forget to change the pronoun when the opposite sex covers the original. I love this period of oldies. Not sure 1961-1964? Some of the pop songs had violins in them. You can make me feel really special with a violin pop song from this period. Bryan

krobigraubart said...

Thank you Lee, it's working now!

Lee Hartsfeld said...


Glad you enjoyed these--I found them highly entertaining, too. And I'm guessing the span of years is 1961 to 1962. I noticed the same thing with the lyrics (the failure to change the pronoun), and I guess that was all part of their get-them-out-there-quick policy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


My pleasure--hope you enjoy. I just now got another request for a re-up, so apparently other files were lost, too. Workupload was down for "maintenance" on Sunday, and apparently the site messed up its program(s). Oh, well...