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
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)
I Will Follow Him
Another Saturday Night
Speedy Gonzalez Top 30 Tunes 10
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
Green Onions Top 30 Tunes 6
Dear One Top Tunes 3-45
When My Little Girl Is Smiling (King-Goffin)