Such a natural cover pose, no? And, sorry, these are not "all the latest hit recordings," needless to say. They're copies of the latest hit recordings, to be precise--but Allegro was purposely avoiding the option of being precise. These delightful jobber rack relics were, after all, designed to work as con jobs. Though, I'm not sure who would look at this LP at the supermarket and seriously think it contained the genuine articles.
That said, and lousy engineering aside, this is a fun set, with Whole Lot of Shaking Going On (could they have meant Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On?) the standout track, to my ears--an out of control cover with far too much low end, and a singer who loses the meter about midpoint. But it's raw and rocking, and in some ways it's even funner than the original. (I've been listening to these things too long, possibly.) And, speaking of inflated bass response, I had to re-EQ Chances Are and Fascination just to get those tracks to the point of listenability. And I'm talking about two levels of EQ'ing. The engineer must have fallen asleep at the console, knocking one of the knobs to max setting. However, I kept Shaking as is, since the bad engineering, oddly enough, only helps the track. It makes a wild take sound even moreso.
Wake up Little Susie is competent by cheap-knockoff standards, while Jailhouse Rock (which I suspect must exist on Broadway, credited to Jack Richards) is quite good. Meanwhile, its highs are quite broken up--again, the engineer goofed up. It doesn't help that this collection was pressed on brittle styrene, and I suppose the awfulness of the Jailhouse fidelity could be blamed on that fact--however, it's the only track with "scritchy" highs, so it's likely not the pressing but indifferent mastering.
I like the way these "latest hit" LPs feature all the then-current hits, even the "adult pop" type, which means that we get to hear My Heart Reminds Me and Melodie D'Amour in the same set as Be-Bop Baby and That'll Be the Day. That's why these albums are such good intros to their particular eras. And a possibly little-known fact about Honeycomb is that it was penned by none other than Bob (How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?) Merrill. True. Personally, I prefer the 1954 Georgie Shaw Honeycomb version to the 1957 Jimmie Rodgers hit, but that's just me.
Mr. Lee--a hit for the R&B girl group, the Bobbettes--is another track I had to unmuffle from its poor EQ'ing, but I got it sounding perfectly fine. And it's cool to have an R&B number in the mix, and one done in an authentic (i.e., non-"pop cover") fashion. For all its engineering faults, this is one cool, zero-budget Record Corp. of America offering. And I wouldn't pay any mind to the 1956 copyright on the back jacket, given the 1957 hits we're hearing here. (Hearing here?)
Oh, and for once the jacket listing conforms to the label order. That's odd. Also, note the "M" suffix which follows the standard Tops in Pops 1670 catalog number, likely designating the edition. To the fun, guilty or otherwise:
DOWNLOAD: Tops in Pops--All the Latest Hit Recordings (Allegro 1670M)
Wake up Little Susie
My Heart Reminds Me
Whole Lot of Shaking Going On
That'll Be the Day
Oh, and here's the Value Hit Parade Tunes (Broadway) co-release, sitting right there in my record rows: