Cameo Parkway 1957-1967

Track Listing:

Disc 1:
1. Butterfly - Charlie Gracie
2. Fabulous - Charlie Gracie
3. Race For Time - Jerry Arnold & The Rhythm Captains
4. Sing Sing Sing - Benie Lowe Orchestra
5. You're The Greatest - Billy Scott
6. Over The Weekend - The Playboys
7. Night Time - Pete Antell
8. Memory Lane - The Hippies
9. Silhouettes - The Rays
10. Daddy Cool - The Rays
11. Back To School Again - Timmie Rogers
12. The Class - Chubby Checker
13. Bad Motorcycle - The Storey Sisters
14. Shake A Hand - Mike Pedicin Quintet
15. Dinner With Drac Part 1 - John Zacherle
16. Mexican Hat Rock - The Applejacks
17. Nine More Miles - Georgie Young and The Rockin' Bocs
18. Birds And Bees - The Temptations
19. Two Weeks With Pay - Georgie Young and The Rockin' Bocs
20. Rocka-Conga - The Applejacks
21. Kissin' Time - Bobby Rydell
22. We've Got Love - Bobby Rydell
23. The Twist - Chubby Checker
24. Wild One - Bobby Rydell
25. Swingin' School - Bobby Rydell
26. Pony Time - Chubby Checker
27. Teach Me To Twist - Chubby Checker & Bobby Rydell
28. Let's Twist Again - Chubby Checker
29. Bristol Stomp - The Dovells
30. The Wah Watusi - The Orlons
31. Merry Christmas - The Cameos

Disc 2:
1. Slow Twistin' - Chubby Checker (with Dee Dee Sharp)
2. Mashed Potato Time - Dee Dee Sharp
3. Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes) - Dee Dee Sharp
4. Don't Hang Up - The Orlons
5. Ride - Dee Dee Sharp
6. Do The New Continental - The Dovells
7. The Popeye Waddle - Don Covay
8. Limbo Rock - Chubby Checker
9. The Cha Cha Cha - Bobby Rydell
10. Volare - Bobby Rydell
11. Sweet Georgia Brown - Carroll Bros.
12. Back To School One More Time - Jerry Blavat
13. (I'm The Girl From) Wolverton Mountain - Jo Ann Campbell
14. Rowdy - Clint Eastwood
15. Forget Him - Bobby Rydell
16. Mother Please! - Jo Ann Campbell
17. Come On And Dance With Me - Billy Abbott and The Jewels
18. Groovy Baby - Billy Abbott and The Jewels
19. The Jam Part 1 - Bobby Gregg and His Friends
20. You Can't Sit Down - The Dovells
21. South Street - The Orlons
22. Everybody South Street - The Taffys
23. Do The Bird - Dee Dee Sharp
24. Not Me - The Orlons
25. Cross Fire! - The Orlons
26. (Everybody Do) The Swim - The Marlins
27. The 81 - Candy and The Kisses
28. Daydreamin' Of You - The Dreamers
29. Swans
30. Jingle Bell Rock - Chubby Checker & Bobby Rydell

Disc 3:
1. So Much In Love - The Tymes
2. Wonderful! Wonderful! - The Tymes
3. Just One Chance - The Sparklettones
4. I'll Be True - Johnny Maestro
5. Hey Good Lookin' - Billy Abbott and The Jewels
6. Somewhere - The Tymes
7. You'll Never Walk Alone - Patti LaBelle and Her Blue Belles
8. Danny Boy - Patti LaBelle and Her Blue Belles
9. Cast Your Fate To The Wind - Sounds Orchstral
10. It Only Took A Minute - Joe Brown and The Bruvvers
11. Long Tall Sally - The Kinks
12. Boys - Pete Best
13. You Still Want Me - The Kinks
14. League
15. Tossing & Turning - The Ivy League
16. She's Fallen In Love With The Monster Man - Screamin' Lord Sutch
17. Wild Thing - Senator Bobby
18. Little White House - Len Barry
19. Fool, Fool, Fool - Joey and The Flips Listen
20. Gilr From New York City - The GTOs
21. Society Girl - The Rag Dolls
22. Soldier Baby Of Mine - Candy and The Kisses
23. S.O.S. (Heart In Distress) - Christine Cooper
24. Because of My Heart - Frankie Beverly and The Butlers
25. Heartaches Away My Boy - Christine Cooper
26. Got To Run - Vickie Baines
27. My Boy - The Stylettes
28. White Christmas (3 O'Clock Weather Report) - Bobby The Poet

Disc 4:
1. Agel Of The Morning - Evie Sands
2. The Love Of A Boy - Evie Sands
3. This Can't Be True - Eddie Holman
4. World Of Fantasy - The Five Stairsteps
5. Come Back - The Five Stairsteps
6. Am I A Loser - Eddie Holman
7. Danger! She's A Stranger - The Five Stairsteps
8. Meet Me In The Church - Bobby Marchan
9. You've Been Untrue - The Delfonics
10. Get A Hold Of Yourself - The Persians
11. He Don't Really Love You - The Delfonics
12. The Sweetest Thing This Side Of Heaven - Chris Bartley
13. The Grass Will Sing For You - Lonnie Youngblood
14. I (Who Have Nothing) - Terry Knight and The Pack
15. Beg, Borrow And Steal - Ohio Express
16. 96 Tears - ? & The Mysterians
17. I Need Somebody - ? & The Mysterians
18. East Side Story - Bob Seger and The Last Heard
19. Can't Get Enough Of You, Baby - ? & The Mysterians
20. Respect - The Rationals
21. Shake Your Tambourine - Bobby Marchan
22. Let The Good Times Roll & Feel So Good - Bunny Sigler
23. Heavy Music Part 1 - Bob Seger and The Last Heard
24. Lovey Dovey/You're So Fine - Bunny Sigler
25. Sock It To Me Santa - Bob Seger and The Last Heard

Album Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine,
Cameo Parkway was the one major record label of the rock & roll era to not see its material released on CD. The reason behind this is unclear. Allen Klein, best known as the manager of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the late '60s, has owned the label since 1968, turning it into ABKCO the following year. All throughout the big CD reissue boom of the late '80s and early '90s, Cameo Parkway sat in the vaults while other reissues flooded the marketplace. This meant that big, big hits by Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, the Orlons, Dee Dee Sharp, and the Dovells all remained unreleased, along with early recordings from Patti LaBelle and a bunch of Michigan garage rock, including Bob Seger's first singles and anything by the Rationals and the original recordings of ? & the Mysterians, including their classic "96 Tears." Years passed and Cameo Parkway stayed far away from CD, although collectors clamored for these sides, never forgetting that the label had never made it to digital disc. Just when it seemed like Cameo Parkway would never make it to CD, ABKCO suddenly and surprisingly released the four-disc, 115-song box set Cameo Parkway 1957-1967 in May of 2005. This was a full 15 years after the peak of CD reissues and a full 40 to 45 years since the label's heyday — a long, long wait to have this music reach CD. While there's an unquestionable sense of relief to finally have a Cameo Parkway set — better late than never and all — ABKCO's box does seem as if it's arriving too late, as if it would have been better off if it were released during the days that Specialty, Atlantic, Vee-Jay, Phil Spector, and the Brill Building all received comprehensive box sets in the late '80s and early '90s. Those labels and movements were captured in lavishly packaged sets — either record-sized 12x12 boxes or book-sized sets, both with CDs housed in separate jewel boxes and large books, filled with photos, discographical details, and extensive liner notes. As appropriate for a box set released in the waning days of the CD era, Cameo Parkway feels like a downsized set: four discs in cardboard sleeves crammed into a small CD-sized box. The cramped 43-page booklet has a good label history from Jeff Tamarkin as well as pretty good notes concerning the release and chart details for each single, but there's a lack of photos and the musician credits are all presented in alphabetical order over the course of two pages, with no indication of who played on what. Since ABKCO has done good work before, particularly on their Spector box, it's possible that the market constraints of 2005 have led to this underwhelming packaging — after all, big box sets just aren't made that often anymore, leaving lavish box sets as the province of specialty online outlets like Hip-O Select.

So, looking at Cameo Parkway, it's hard not to wish that it was released in 1990, when it would have gotten better packaging, and listening to the set provokes a similar desire: this is music that should have been reissued years ago. If it had been released during the boom years of CD reissues, it would not have arrived with the same set of expectations as it does in 2005. Because of the long delay, a sense of anticipation arrives with the set. There's an assumption that in addition to the big hits and classics that have never have seen release on CD, Cameo Parkway will deliver a cornucopia of lost treasures, revealing the label as having a legacy as vast, influential, and formidable as Specialty, Atlantic, and Vee-Jay. One listen to this four-disc set proves that not to be the case. Cameo Parkway was, first and foremost, a label of its time. It could even be said that it defined its time, namely the years after Elvis joined the Army and the years before the British Invasion. This was the time that rock & roll turned toward pop music and dance crazes, and Cameo Parkway provided the soundtrack, both out of design and good fortune.

The Philadelphia-based label shared a hometown with Dick Clark's American Bandstand, and when the television show went national, the label always had acts ready to appear on a weekly basis. Soon, Cameo Parkway had two giant stars in Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell. Chubby, of course, rode "The Twist" to number one not once but twice, helping to establish the label as a success. For a few years, Checker and Rydell had many hits, as did pop-soul singer Dee Dee Sharp and the vocal groups the Orlons and the Dovells. In addition to these hitmakers, the label churned out anything they thought would hit the charts — singles that sounded like other current trends (particularly Motown), songs by Hollywood stars (most notably Clint Eastwood's "Rowdy"), wannabe dance crazes, instrumentals, answer songs, and novelty records by the dozen. This fueled the label during their heyday, but they were knocked off track by the British Invasion. They tried to recover by doing the only thing they knew how: throwing everything at the wall and seeing what stuck. This included licensing the Kinks and releasing banished Beatle Pete Best's "Boys" (where he aped Ringo Starr's vocals), trying to compete with Motown on the pop-soul angle, and, of course, more novelty records, such as a Bobby Kennedy sound-alike reciting "Wild Thing." As the '60s passed the halfway mark, Cameo Parkway founder Bernie Lowe left, and the label carried on for a few years, recording such local soul groups as the Five Stairsteps and the Delfonics and picking up a bunch of garage rock out of Michigan, before folding at the end of the decade.

Cameo Parkway traces this entire history quite effectively, which might make it interesting as both nostalgia and a historical document, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's filled with great music. Surely, there is a bunch of great music here — of the earliest sides, the Dovells ("Bristol Stomp," "You Can't Sit Down"), the Orlons ("Don't Hang Up," "South Street"), and Dee Dee Sharp ("Mashed Potato Time") hold up very well and the last disc, which is basically divided between early Philly soul and rampaging Detroit rock, is by and large excellent (so good, it does raise the question of why the Rationals were given only one song and why Seger's terrific "Persecution Smith" and "Lookin' Back" were left behind in favor of the Last Heard novelty "Sock It to Me Santa") — but they're surrounded by singles that capture their time without transcending it. Some of this stuff is quite fun, but early into the first disc, the teenybopper pop, cash-in instrumentals, and parade of novelties starts to wear thin — and that's even before Chubby Checker comes along with his seemingly endless string of "Twist" knockoffs, none of which have improved with age.

Checker's twists were hits, as were Bobby Rydell's teenbeat tunes, but unlike the hit singles that came out on Sun, Atlantic, and Motown in the late '50s and early '60s, they are not timeless music. That's unfortunately true of most of the music on Cameo Parkway: it's music that is first and foremost music of its time. There are exceptions to the rule — some of the novelties are still fun, there are some good forgotten gems like the Rays' jiving doo wop tune "Daddy Cool," and the Michigan rock is fantastic, as are cuts by the Delfonics, the Five Stairsteps, and the aforementioned Dovells and Orlons sides — but for the most part, this set is of interest to listeners who either grew up with the music or to the most serious pop music archivist. For many listeners who waited patiently for these songs to come out on CD, it very well may be enough just to have this set out and on the market, but there will likely be just as many listeners who, given the long wait, expected something more musically substantial than what Cameo Parkway ultimately had to offer.

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