In regard to all the cheap labels I stuck up during Xmas, RobGems68 asked if I've ever given blog space to the major label cheapies like Camden/RCA Camden, Harmony, and (I suppose) Lion--and forgive me if I'm incorrectly paraphrasing you, Rob. But the answer is, I haven't given them enough of a spotlight, with some exceptions, like this post. Today's offering should make up for this to some degree--it features the Blazers, which Discogs identifies as "Studio group including American musicians active in France," including lead singer Frankie Tucker. The label is the Columbia budget label Harmony, and, as we might expect, the tracks are very professionally done--maybe too much so. Which might explain my problem with them--I find them a bit lacking in spirit; a bit boring (Get a Job, in particular, a tune which should practically propel itself). I guess I'm too used to the superbly arranged, not-quite-rock-and-roll rock and roll covers on Enoch Light's Waldorf labels, as well as the often sloppy but fun SPC fakes (which usually showed up on the Promenade label), not to mention the stuff that showed up on Broadway and Value Hit Parade Tunes (which ran the gamut from fine to pretty bad). These performances lack a certain edge; they're almost phoned in. But, of course, that's simply my impression. It's what's known as a subjective truth, which is a fancy term for an opinion. Just my take--neither factually right nor wrong.
Just, I guess, to remind the buyer that he or she is getting a budget product, Columbia only included ten tracks--so there. And, I just can't pinpoint why these tracks miss the mark with me, because on a purely technical level, they're superior, save maybe for some weak vocals. None of the collision of tempi one hears on SPC cheapies, for example, and overall a sound very much like the originals. Well, except for the absence of female voices on Short Shorts, which sort of hurts the effect. Lovers of authentic Short Shorts covers (you know who you are) won't be happy with this one, I don't think. One track that almost rocks a lot: Don't Let Go, a superior Jesse Stone number. Again, though, something's missing. The Stroll almost makes it, too. Maybe it's simply that the genuine cheapies--Promenade, Broadway, 18 Top Hits, etc.--were simply better at being cheap. Studio musicians assigned to the Harmony label may have wondered what they did to tick off their bosses. They may not have been giving their best.
Eager to hear feedback on this. For some, these tracks may work beautifully. The album might rock the house. Me, I give this a C+. I was expecting more drive and excitement, I guess.
In the years to come, Columbia would put out some very fun record club fake-hit collections, including at least one reissue of a U.K. Invasion-era budget gem.
Oh, and cover photographer Fons Ianelli is known for being part of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit during WWII. Check out his outstanding wartime photos in Google Images.
DOWNLOAD: Rock and Roll by the Blazers (Harmony HL-7103; 1958)
Get a Job
"7-11" (Mambo No. 5)
Walkin' With Mr Lee
Don't Let Go (J. Stone)