Saturday, October 17, 2009

You Heard it Here First (Original Versions of Famous Songs)

Another ace from ACE. Excellent CD. It's hard to fathom why some of these weren't hits first time around. In many cases, some of the originals on this CD are better than the latter hit versions e.g. 'This Diamond Ring', 'California Sun', 'Go Now' & 'I just don't know what to do with myself'. The jewel in the crown here is 'Rock Arouind the Clock', while not exactly 'a great record', it is a 'must have' for any genuine record collector of the 'pop era'. Ace Records of London has come up with yet another winner in this volume which chronicles the origins of some of the biggest hit singles of the 1950s and 1960s, and in the 28-page booklet, Rob Finnis and Tony Rounce provide detailed track-by-track background information that reads like a history lesson on the development of popular music. Throughout the 28 pages are 45 rpm and poster reproductions related to the cuts, along with photographs of many of the artists. On the reverse, as is their norm, Ace shows the full label details and year of release for each track.

Understandably, without having had the luck which often make the difference between an also-ran and a hit (some were also handicapped by the "small label" curse - no funds for proper promotion or "payola" when that was rampant), most are so obscure that photos likely are just not available. But there are some that Ace was able to dig up which likely would never have come to light again but for their unmatched efforts in providing us with the unusual.

One such is Sunny Dae & The Knights, a four-piece Philadelphia group who actually recorded Max Freedman's now immortal Rock Around The Clock in the year preceding the Bill Haley version, which initially charted in 1954 (not "three years before" as intimated in the above blurb) and also released it in 1954 on the small Arcade label. It isn't surprising that this didn't make any charts. First, Arcade didn't have the resources to get it heard and besides, Sunny (real name Paschal Vennitti and actually an acquaintance of Bill's) had neither the voice nor the arrangement designed to grab anyone's attention, unlike the Haley version, released as (We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock. Still, it's great to see it available on disc and you won't want to miss the full tale behind the recording as told by Rob Finnis.

Other extremely interesting stories lie behind Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go? by The Leaves (they recorded it twice - this is the initial rendition), Barbie Gaye's My Boy Lollipop (shown on the actual record as "Lollypop"), which she recorded 7 years before Millie Small for the tiny Darl label, and Richard Berry & The Pharaoh's Louie, Louie, a 1957 recording that came out in 1957 on Ember E.P. 4527 Volume 3 and was promptly forgotten until a group from Portland, Oregon calling themselves The Kingsmen recorded it and launched a legend.

And when you hear songs like Something Stupid by Carson & Gaile, Ain't That Loving You Baby by Eddie Riff, Go Now by Bessie Banks, A Rockin' Good Way by Priscilla Bowman & The Spaniels, and I Fought The Law by The Crickets you will realize that these could just as easily have been as big as the later versions to come - if not better in a few cases.

1. Tainted Love - GLORIA JONES 2. Suspicious Minds - MARK JAMES 3. Wild Thing - THE WILD ONES 4. I Fought The Law - THE CRICKETS 5. The Red Rooster - HOWLIN' WOLF 6. Hanky Panky - THE RAINDROPS 7. Go Now - BESSIE BANKS 8. A Rockin' Good Way - PRISCILLA BOWMAN & THE SPANIELS 9. This Diamond Ring - SAMMY AMBROSE 10. Tobacco Road - JOHN D. LOUDERMILK 11. I Found You - YVONNE FAIR 12. Ain't That Loving You Baby - EDDIE RIFF 13. Louie Louie - RICHARD BERRY & THE PHARAOHS 14. My Boy Lollipop - BARBIE GAYE 15. Little Bit O' Soul - THE LITTLE DARLINGS 16. Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town - JOHNNY DARRELL 17. Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand - HOAGY LANDS 18. You Need Love - MUDDY WATERS 19. A Groovy Kind Of Love - DIANE AND ANNITA 20. You Were On My Mind - IAN & SYLVIA 21. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself - TOMMY HUNT 22. Let's Get Together (Live) - THE KINGSTON TRIO 23. California Sun - JOE JONES 24. Something Stupid - CARSON & GAILE 25. Hey Joe, Where You Gonna Go - THE LEAVES 26. Rock Around The Clock - SUNNY DAE & THE KNIGHTS


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