Jazz Misrepresented As Surf?

The Australian All-Stars‘s 1959 album – Jazz for Beach-Niks – was originally released on Columbia Australia and picked up for US release four years later by King subsidiary label, Bethlehem (and reissued 2013 in Japan), subject of the previous history piece.  One can only presume Syd Nathan was trying to capitalize on the burgeoning surf sound via the misleading cover photo (strictly jazz – not a trace of surf).

Volume 1 = US release on Bethlehem in 1963

Billboard would deem Jazz for Beach-Niks “three stars” (indicating moderate sales potential) in the jazz section of the album reviews for its May 11, 1963 edition.

volume 2 = US release on Bethlehem in 1960

+Australian All-Stars = Beach-Nik Jazz LP

Vexingly, Bethlehem had already issued the Australian All-Stars sophomore album in 1960, three years prior to the US release of their first album.  Are you confused?

“Decidedly”     The Australian All-Stars     1960

Ruppli’s 2-volume King Labels recording sessions discography, sadly, is bereft of any information (“details not known”) about this release by The Australian All-Stars.  Fortunately, Discogs has the musician credits, with the following players listed on both albums:

Freddy Logan:   Bass
Ron Webber:      Drums
Terry Wilkinson: Piano
Don Burrows:     Saxes, Flutes & Clarinet
Dave Rutledge:   Tenor Sax & Flute

King Cash-In Surf LP #2

Zero to 180’s sprawling history trawl “Rare & Unreleased King” made passing reference to another surf-ploitation LP issued by King Records – 1963’s Surfin’ on Wave Nine – and even threatened to make that album the focus of a future history piece … whose time has come today.

Compared to Look Who’s Surfin’ Now (King LP previously celebrated hereSurfin’ on Wave Nine is a bit more of an organic affair, with only a modest amount of jiggery pokery involved.

Track Listing

  •                                 A1  The Vice-Roys – “Seagreen
  •                                 A2  The Nu-Trons – “Malibu Mal
  •                                 A3  The Tramps – “Maharadja
  •                                 A4  The Nu-Trons – “Tension
  •                                 A5  The Vice-Roys – “The Fox
  •                                 A6  Mickey Baker – “Gone
  •                                 B1  Mickey Baker – “Zanzie
  •                                 B2  The Vice-Roys – “Moasin’
  •                                 B3  The Nu-Trons – “Wild Side
  •                                 B4  The Wobblers – “The Wobble
  •                                 B5  The Nu-Trons – “Ninth Wave Out
  •                                 B6  The Vice-Roys – “Buzz Bomb

According to Ruppli’s 2-volume Kings recording sessionography, we can only be certain that two of these songs — “The Fox” and “Buzz Bomb” by The Vice-Roys — were recorded in Cincinnati.

The Vice-Roys would record their songs for King in three sessions:  c. Nov/Dec 1961 (“Moasin'”); c. September, 1962 (“Seagreen”); and April, 1963 (“The Fox” & “Buzz Bomb”).  Worth noting that King would issue a split single in 1963 with “Seagreen” by The Vice-Roys chosen as the flip side for “That Low Down Move” by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters.  But, as Discogs notes, “Seagreen” actually began life as an A-side issued on Bethlehem with the title “Seagram’s” – ostensibly a salute to the whiskey brand.  Both Sides Now Publications recounts the controversy:

In 1960, an instrumental rock band called the Viceroys brought Bethlehem an instrumental master they called “Seagrams,” apparently thinking the name of a hard liquor brand would be hip for teens.  Bethlehem liked the tune and released it. Unfortunately, Seagrams Corporation didn’t think it was funny and threatened to sue for trademark infringement, and some stations refused to play a song with the name of a commercial product without being paid for advertising time.  A sheepish notice in Billboard on March 23, 1960, said, “We Goofed!” and explained that “Seagrams” was now changed to “Seagreen.”

Worth noting that in that same March 23, 1960 edition of Billboard along with the official industry notice from King Records saying “We Goofed!” was this wink-wink news item:

Just Call This a Real Loaded Idea

SAN FRANCISCO— A novel record promotion originated by Bob Earl, San Francisco branch manager for King Records, has been picked up by the national record distributor and will be repeated in Cincinnati, Chicago and New York.

Bethlehem’s new recording of “Seagram,” sung by the Vice-roys, prompted Earl to include a half pint of Seagram’s VO whiskey and a package of Vice-roy cigarettes when delivery the disk, all wrapped up in gay “Mardi Gras” gift paper. Uniformed messenger delivery personnel called upon local deejays in the four top r & b and rock and roll stations in San Francisco and Oakland — KSAN, KEWB, KDIA and KYA.

The Nu-Trons would record two sessions for King — the first (“Tension” and “Wild Side”) in May, 1963 (possibly in Cincinnati — Ruppli is uncertain) and the second (“Malibu Mal” and “Ninth Wave Out” in June, 1963.

The Tramps‘s sole contribution “Maharadja” is the earliest contribution to this various artists compilation (August, 1961), but alas — the recording is leased from another label.

Mickey Baker‘s guitar instrumental classic “Zanzie” (previously celebrated here) was recorded – along with “Gone” – June, 1962 in Paris.

Without a doubt, the song most likely to grab your attention is “The Wobbler” which likely was recorded late (November?) in 1961 by The Wobblers:

“The Wobble”     The Wobblers     1961

Listen to King Surf Albums on the Radio!

This Saturday – September 8, 2018 from 6-8 PM – there will be a King Surf Party!  In 1963, King Records released several surf albums, Surfin’ on Wave NineLook Who Surfin’ Now and Freddie King Goes Surfin’, in response to the California craze.  Join WAIF FM radio hosts, Rock-it Rick, Midwest Surf Guy and Handsome Dan, as they play tracks from these King compilations on the legendary “Rockin’ & Surfin’ Show.”  Those who live outside Cincinnati can tune in on the web – click on the link to WAIF 88.3 FM.

King Cash-In Surf LP #1

In the course of sleuthing, I stumbled upon a King surf cash-in compilation from 1964 that, upon closer inspection, revealed a trio of “mystery bands” — The Surf Jumpers, The Wild Kats and The King Surfers — that are mysteriously absent from Ruppli’s otherwise fairly comprehensive 2-volume discography of King Records and its associated labels.  Further examination revealed the curious fact that every song title can only be found on this one King album with the one exception being “Low Tide” by Freddy King.

Track Listing

  •                          A1  James Brown – “Surfin’ Along”
  •                          A2  The Surf Jumpers – “Surfin’ Party”
  •                          A3  Albert King – Surfin’ the Blues Away
  •                          A4  Gene Redd – Surfin’ Beat
  •                          A5  The King Surfers – Surfin’ in the Far East
  •                          A6  The Wild Kats – Wild Surfin’
  •                          B1  Freddy King – Low Tide
  •                          B2  Little Willie John – High Tide
  •                          B3  King Curtis – Surfin’ in Blue
  •                          B4  Hank Moore – Cool Feet
  •                          B5  Johnny Otis – Let’s Surf Awhile
  •                          B6  Tonni Kalash – The Surf

Given what we’ve learned from the Philip Paul history piece about Gene Redd‘s 1959 recording “Zeen Beat” getting re-branded as “Surfin’ Beat,” I suspect that Syd Nathan simply re-titled 9 instrumentals from the King catalog that might possibly be mistaken for “surf beat” to go with the three new spiffy original surf-flavored tracks hastily thrown together by The Surf Jumpers, The Wild Kats, and especially The King Surfers.  One Discogs contributor even entreats:  “If anyone knows the original track names of these tracks which were re-titled for this release .. it would be very helpful.”

For example, I would bet big money that “Joggin’ Along” – from 1962’s James Brown and His Famous Flames Tour the U.S.A. – is the recording used for “Surfin’ Along,” a James Brown song title found nowhere else but here.

“Joggin’ [i.e., Surfin’] Along”     James Brown & His Famous Flames     1962

Ruppli’s discography indicates the Albert King recording to have taken place in St. Louis sometime in 1961 and even notes the song title as “Surfin’ the Blues Away.”  Nevertheless, I feel burned by Ruppli having titled the 1959 Gene Redd track as “Surfin’ Beat,” plus I’m highly dubious that Albert King was moved by the earliest surf strains of 1961 while located in the Midwest.

Ace UK, meanwhile, helped me figure out that 1961’s “Let’s Rock” by Johnny Otis (recorded in Los Angeles, with Johnny Guitar Watson) is the original recording used for “Let’s Surf Awhile” (which Ruppli notes as the title, not “Let’s Rock”).

I’m just guessing that “The Boss” by Tonni Kalash is plausibly surf sounding to pass as “The Surf” to less discerning ears.

Ruppli’s discography indicates the King Curtis track (“Surfin’ in Blue”) to be a 1957 blues instrumental recorded in NYC that originally bore the title “Wicky Wacky” (and, alternatively, “King Curtis Stomp”).

Dying to know whether “Katanga” – an instrumental attributed to Little Willie John from December, 1961 that was laid down in King’s Cincinnati studios – is the recording that was renamed “High Tide” for this album.  Can’t imagine King included many instrumentals (if any) on a Little Willie John LP or 45.

Tenor saxophonist session player Hank Moore stepped out as bandleader on a few tracks that were recorded in Cincinnati.  “Cool Feet” is one such track from March 9, 1961 that appears, miraculously, to have retained its original title – although, it figures that this instrumental would appear on Look Who’s Surfin’ Now and nowhere else.

Listen to King Surf Albums on the Radio!

This Saturday – September 8, 2018 from 6-8 PM – there will be a King Surf Party!  In 1963, King Records released several surf albums, Surfin’ on Wave Nine, Look Who Surfin’ Now and Freddie King Goes Surfin’, in response to the California craze.  Join WAIF FM radio hosts, Rock-it Rick, Midwest Surf Guy and Handsome Dan, as they play tracks from these King compilations on the legendary “Rockin’ & Surfin’ Show.”  Those who live outside Cincinnati can tune in on the web – click on the link to WAIF 88.3 FM.

Rolling Stones Soundalike Albums

In the inevitable Beatles vs. Stones (straw man) debate, I intensely resent having to pick sides, since the very idea of one without the other is laughable at best.  Nevertheless, this lifelong Beatles fan takes a certain fiendish thrill in devoting an entire blog post to those albums in which non-Stones groups play nothing but Rolling Stones tunes.

Kicking off this Stones-ploitation trend, appropriately enough, is their manager and svengali, Andrew Loog Oldham, who would arrange “polite” instrumental versions of early Stones songs for 1965’s The Rolling Stones Songbook under the name Andrew Oldham Orchestra. The Verve, you may recall, sampled the album’s final cut – “The Last Time” – for use in the dramatic opening strains of their huge 1997 hit “Bitter Sweet Symphony” but would not get to enjoy any of the royalties generated (sales, Nike ads, sporting event performances) due to the hardball tactics of the composition’s holder of copyright, ABKCO’s Allen Klein — as this exclusive excerpt from Fred Goodman’s new biography makes clear.

Rolling Stone imposter-Andrew Oldham OrchJoe Pass – as noted early in this blog’s existence – would release his seminal survey of mid-60s Stones, Stones Jazz, the following year in 1966.  But a couple of other notable ‘Stones-centric’ albums would hit the marketplace that same year:  (a) Baroque ‘n’ Stones by The New Renaissance Society and (b) A Tribute to The Rolling Stones by The Pupils.

BAROQUE ‘N’ STONES:  hanna-Barbera Records  +  THE PUPILS:  Tribute to the Rolling Stones

Rolling Stone imposter-a1Rolling Stone imposter-b1

How fascinating to discover that ‘The Pupils’ were, in actual fact, cult “mod” band The Eyes, whose 1966 (UK-only) EP sells for hundreds of pounds/dollars at auction (and would include their cheeky retort to The Who — “My Degeneration“).

“19th Nervous Breakdown”     The Pupils/The Eyes     1966

Four years hence,The Winstons would record their unabashed tribute to the Rolling Stones, notable primarily for its provocative “jail bait” cover, while two years later, The Collection would issue the only album of their career — a musical salute to the Stones, naturally — with a similarly risque front cover image.

     The Winstons     1970                                   The Collection     1972

Rolling Stone imposter-c1Rolling Stone imposter-d1

1972 would also bear witness to one more cash-in effort, Rolling Stones Vol. 2 (unclear whether Vol. 1 was ever issued), by the confusingly-possessive Monkey’s Pop Group, whose only known LP was issued on French label, Les Tréteaux.Rolling Stone imposter-dd11973 would bring five (count ’em) Rolling Stone tribute albums, including —

(1) a pair of delightfully kitschy covers from the “group” Rockery:Rolling Stone imposter-e1Rolling Stone imposter-ee1

(2) the one and only recording from The HotShockers released on German label, Auditon:Rolling Stone imposter-g1(3) the stylish and slyly misleading cover for Rockin’ Stones Party from France’s (not Jamaica’s) Fabulous Five:Rolling Stone imposter-f1(4) Million Copy Hits Made Famous by the Rolling Stones by The Flash (Starring Denny Jones):

magnification not included

Rolling Stone imposter-i1(5) a tribute album by a group of Dutch musicians who departed at recording’s end with such frenzied haste, history never had a chance to record their identity:Rolling Stone imposter-h1By the 1980s, unfortunately, it was clear that Stones-ploitation’s Golden Age had passed.  Flash would issue Keep on Rolling in 1981 – impressively on CBS imprint, Epic – while that same year would see the release of Rolling Hits’ one and only album, Rolling Hits Medley, incredibly on major labels (Mercury, Polydor, Philips) in at least 10 countries, including Peru.

Rolling Stone imposter-k1Rolling Stone imposter-j1

I was perhaps five when I encountered my first soundalike cash-in album in the form of a Beatle knockoff group, The Liverpools (as previously recounted), and then again not long after when I got suckered by one of those TV ads for 18 Golden Hits of 1971, as rendered by The Sound Effects (though it is possible I fell for the previous year’s 18 Golden Hits of 1970, which does not even bear the name of the artist-for-hire).

Golden Hits of 1971UDiscoverMusic, similarly, writes of a curious and confounding time “when cut-price soundalike recordings ruled the British charts” — 45 years ago, to be precise, when there was a brief change in the chart eligibility rules, and before you knew it, Top of the Pops 18 was dislodging The Moody Blues’ Every Good Boy Deserves Favour from the #1 spot!

Baroque & Stones-x

“Uh Oh”: Jet Age Moderne

ABC once broadcast a 4-part television special in 1960 called The Frank Sinatra Timex Show:  Welcome Home Elvis.  This was to be the hip-swiveler’s first television appearance in three years since being discharged from military service.

Poster Art by Al Hirschfeld?

Frank Sinatra TimexAt one point, Elvis threatens to get upstaged by a fresh, jazzy near-instrumental but for the phrase, “uh oh” that sounds as if voiced by a pair of “nutty squirrels” (i.e., poor man’s Alvin & the Chipmunks):

“Uh Oh”     The Nutty Squirrels     1959

Uh Oh” – the debut single by The Nutty Squirrels, a creation of Sascha Burland and Don Elliott – would enjoy release in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia & New Zealand.  The duo would follow “Uh Oh” with “Uh Huh” (a 4-song EP) and a third single, “Eager Beaver” b/w “Zowee” — all tracks from their debut Hanover album — before making the leap in 1960 to almighty Columbia, who issued an LP and Christmas 45.

Nutty Squirrels LPIn 1963, The Nutty Squirrels would issue a 45 on RCA and one final LP (A Hard Day’s Night) on MGM the following year.

Nutty Squirrels MGM LPWikipedia claims that [1] “The Squirrels actually preceded the Chipmunks on television in an animated cartoon, but with much less success”; [2] “Uh Oh (pt. 1)” just about grazed the Top-40 (#45), while “Uh Oh (pt. 2)” climbed to #14 Pop and #9 R&B in 1959; and [3] The Squirrels would have one last fling with commercial success in 1976 as “Shirley & Squirrely” via a CB-radio novelty single, “Hey Shirley (This is Squirrely),” that reached #48 Pop and #28 Country.

Felix & His (Cash-in) Guitar

“Cerveza” by Boots Brown (see previous post about rock/pop’s Latin roots) was only one of the more obvious attempts to cash in on the runaway success of “Tequila” by The Champs in 1958.  “Chili Beans” by Felix & His Guitar also does a great job of appropriating that familiar riff while at the same time adding a melodic counterpart that might possibly have kept the legal wolves at bay:

“Chili Beans” b/w “puerto rican riot”     Felix & His Guitar     1958

Felix & His Guitar (backed by The Hot Peppers) released one other recording in 1958, “Two Tacos” b/w “Summer Love” — and then nothing more.

Two Tacos 45

“Beatle Crazy”: Will Somebody Pass the DDT?

Thanks to the research staff at Ace Records for the great story behind Bill Clifton’s attempt to cash-in on the initial Beatles hysteria, 1963’s “Beatle Crazy” – probably the only Beatle tribute song done in a talking blues style.

Beatle Crazy 45

Clifton, who was born into a wealthy family in Baltimore County, Maryland, defied family expectations about his professional aspirations and chose to pursue his passion for bluegrass music, leaving West Virginia University to sign with Blue Ridge Records as part of the Dixie Mountain Boys and perform live on WWVA’s “Wheeling Jamboree” radio program in the 1950s.  Clifton later gained distinction for having organized the first bluegrass festival in 1961 at Oak Leaf Park in Luray, Virginia.

Ace takes the story from here:

In 1963, Clifton left the States and re-located in England, settling in Sevenoaks, just outside of London with his wife and four children.  Under the stewardship of a talent manager named Pat Robinson, he began securing radio and TV spots and, with the field virtually to himself, bought a Stetson hat in a London store to add a touch of authenticity to his cod Western image.

In November 1963, Robinson took Clifton into Regent Sound, a low-budget studio in London’s Denmark Street favoured by the Rolling Stones, to record “Beatle Crazy”, a song penned by Geoff Stephens, a schoolteacher from Southend striving to make it as a songwriter.  Though somewhat overshadowed by Dora Bryan’s “All I Want for Christmas Is a Beatle” (the first known Beatle tribute), “Beatle Crazy” notched up steady and substantial sales well into the New Year and went on to become Clifton’s calling card during his three-year English sojourn (it was released in the States in April 1964).

Clifton eventually returned to America where he continued to perform at bluegrass and folk festivals in his role as roving ambassador for the bluegrass cause.  Geoff Stephens would go on to to pen many hits including “The Crying Game” and “Winchester Cathedral.”

“Beatle Crazy” does feature a few great lines – such as, “These guys between them, they sure got some hair.  I’m losing mine, don’t seem fair” – but the knockout punch comes at the end of the song, literally, when chemical weapons become involved:

The Buggs: Low-Budget Beatles

Upon playing the debut (and only) album by The Buggs, once discovers that the band – in their particularly mercenary bid to piggyback off The Beatles’ success – utilized song titles as simple vessels for parking exotic English place names and popular dance moves, with no consideration whatsoever for the song’s actual lyrics.  For example, you will find not a single reference to the Tower of Parliament in the song “Big Ben Hop” — but you will find references galore to a spunky lass nicknamed “Sassy Sue.”   Similarly, you won’t find any mention of England’s capital city in “London Town Swing” but rather a tale of unrequited love that is underscored by the singer’s anguished refrain, “Why won’t you love the boy who loves you?”:

Love the Boy Who Loves You – The Buggs

[Pssst:  Click the triangle above to play “Love the Boy Who Loves You” by The Buggs.]

Beetle Beat - The Buggs

Given the wild disparity between song titles and actual lyrical content, Zero to 180 – as a public service – has created this song title conversion chart to help guide the listener toward greater truth and accuracy:

   Nominal Song Title                  Actual Song Title

           “Liverpool drag”                                            “Why won’t you leave that man?”

           “Swingin’ Thames”                                           “We belong together”

           “East end”                                                       “since you went away”

           “mersey mercy”                                              “you got me bugged”

           “teddy boy stomp”                                         “i’ll never leave you”

           “soho mash”                                                    “just one look”

           “big ben hop”                                                   “sassy sue”

           “london town swing”                                     “love the boy who loves you”

 

Beatle Buddies: Not Actually Pals

Of all the records released in the wake of Beatlemania (click here for a comprehensive illustrated list of Beatles covers & cash-in albums) the one-and-only album by The Beatle Buddies easily wins the award for best cover, with its menacing take on Meet the Beatles:Beatle Buddies LP

Fortunately, mixed in with the Beatle covers, there are a few originals – such as,”I Waited“:

I Waited – The Beatle Buddies

[Pssst:  Click on the triangle above to hear ”I Waited” by The Beatle Buddies.]

Did the four young ladies enjoy a close personal relationship with the lads from Liverpool?   That’s a puzzle that might not ever get solved, as little to no information exists on the web about these four (unnamed) artists  – which only makes the back cover liner notes that much more hilarious in retrospect:

“The Beatles created one of the most phenomenal musical events since Elvis, and the whole world is infected with Beatle sounds.  Our contribution is unique in that we are offering the Beatle Buddies, a group of young gals that have their own sound, in the true Beatle tradition.  They have a distinct and definite originality in their presentation.  The girls are cute and very talented.  We think that their names and sound will last long after the Beatles are gone.  Listen to their harmony and style and we think you will agree that these girls are a real find in the recording business of today.  A single record is being prepared from this album which should be heard nationwide very soon.  So here we go — Beatle Buddies.

Perhaps the record label’s emphasis on quantity and affordability [“Diplomat Records – your best buy in entertainment”; “fine records need not be expensive”; “Diplomat recordings offer many additional hours of listening pleasure”] explains why Diplomat, with its limited finances, might resort to legally artistic marketing strategies.

And no doubt these strategies worked, as I can affirm firsthand as a tot when a close (and unsuspecting) family friend visited one day and brought with her a new “Beetles” album as an offering of joy for the youngest Beatlemaniac in the household – only to receive this:

Beatle Mania - The Liverpools

“Chained to Your Heart”: Cycle Soothes the Savage Beast

The soundtrack album to 1969’s notorious biker film, Cycle Savages (starring Bruce Dern) remained out-of-print until reissued on CD in 2012.  This album contains rare cuts by cult psych bands Orphan Egg and The Boston Tea Party – with the latter contributing standout track, “Chained to Your Heart”:

Cycle Savages LP

“They’re the ungrateful, the uninhibited, the undisciplined and the never-challenged!  Their power – the grinding roar of their cycles and the stench of burning rubber in their wake as this breed of savages journeys from area to area searching for trouble – their cry is  ‘rev-up-and-ride’ — in short, it’s their warning to beware!  This wild group of the 70’s is known around the country as the CYCLE SAVAGES.  They steal women, initiate them into their pack, and then sell them on the black market of crime.

“What does the ‘chopper,’ as it is often referred to, represent to this segment of today’s youth?  Is it merely an inexpensive mode of transportation, or is it a means to some sort of common identity?  The motorcycle is a symbol of individuality, independence and freedom.  Jerry Styner’s original musical score, composed specially for Cycle Savages, genuinely expresses the feeling behind the story – the uncertainty of today’s youth in their search for identity, power and an unknown future.”

Soundtrack album executive producers:  Mike Curb & Casey Kasem.

Released 1970 on American International Records.