COLLECTORS’ CHOICE TO REISSUE CAMEO-PARKWAY ALBUMS BY THE DOVELLS, DEE DEE SHARP AND JOHN ZACHERLE
Legendary Philadelphia label reflects on hitmaking vocal group, early soul star and horror novelty artist.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Collectors’ Choice Music in conjunction with ABKCO Music & Records continues their rollout of Cameo Parkway reissues on November 23, 2010 with the release of three CD double albums: The Dovells’ For Your Hully Gully Party/You Can’t Sit Down, Dee Dee Sharp’s It’s Mashed Potato Time/Do The Bird, John Zacherle’s Monster Mash/Scary Tales and the compilation Cameo-Parkway Holiday Hits.
In June 2010, Collectors’ Choice Music and ABKCO Music & Records began a rollout of reissues and compilations from the legendary Cameo and Parkway Records masters. For some time ABKCO had been looking for the right team with whom to delve into its vaults to create an ongoing Cameo Parkway reissue program. ABKCO found the right mix in Collectors’ Choice Music and the two have entered into an arrangement, ensuring that a flow of reissues and compilations will be available over the next few years. All releases are curated by Teri Landi, ABKCO’s resident engineer and catalog archivist, and annotated by respected music journalists.
The four new collections are as follows:
• The Dovells — For Your Hully Gully Party/You Can’t Sit Down: The Dovells (Jerry Summers, Len Barry, Mike Dennis, Danny Brooks and Arnie Satin) came together in Cameo Parkway’s back yard, Philadelphia, in 1959. After a pair of flop singles issued in 1960, the group topped the charts in the summer of 1961 with “Bristol Stomp”, inspired by a dance step taking Bristol, Pa. by storm. Cameo Parkway had become a leader in dance records with Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” and “Limbo Rock”, Bobby Rydell’s “The Cha-Cha-Cha”, the Orlons’ “The Wah- Watusi” and Dee Dee Sharp’s “Mashed Potato Time” (more on that release in a minute). On the heels of an earlier “Hully Gully” from L.A. group the Olympics, Cameo Parkway staff writers/producers Kal Mann and Dave Appell worked up a new arrangement for the Dovells. It went Top 30 and inspired the For Your Hully Gully Party album. The long-player also features “The Jitterbug”, “Stompin’ Everywhere” and “Time for the Madison” following the groove of the Ray Bryant and Al Brown “Madison” hits. The irresistible “You Can’t Sit Down” was originally an instrumental hit for session guitarist Phil Upchurch, which he’d play live going into breaks. Mann wrote lyrics, and the song became the Dovells’ second biggest hit — rescued from its destiny as B-side of “Wildwood Days”. Other songs on the You Can’t Sit Down album include Larry Williams’ “Short Fat Fannie”, Bobby Blue Bland’s “36-22-26” and Jackie Wilson’s “Baby Workout”. Following the Dovells’ run of hits, Len Barry went on to score with the 1965 hit “1-2-3”. Gene Scullatti wrote the liner notes on the Dovells twofer.
• Dee Dee Sharp — It’s Mashed Potato Time/Do The Bird: Dee Dee Sharp was born Dione LaRue in Philadelphia. But when the singer, who learned to sing in church, signed to Cameo Parkway and recorded her smash hit “Mashed Potato Time” she was re-named Dee Dee Sharp because of her tendency to sing in the key of D Sharp. Originally part of a gospel group that backed artists like Lloyd Price, Jackie Wilson and Ray Charles, Sharp suddenly was the star — and Cameo artists the Orlons backed her on her hit. Offered the song “The Loco-Motion” by Carole King, the Cameo Parkway producers declined as they didn’t own the publishing. But Sharp soon rebounded with “Gravy (for My Mashed Potatoes)”, which performed remarkably well for a side dish, peaking at #9. The It’s Mashed Potato Time album also featured “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman”, a 1948 ballad by the Basin Street Boys; “Gee” by the Crows; and “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” by Gene McDaniels. The album is coupled here with Do The Bird, which includes Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin”, Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petitie” and Clyde McPhatter’s “Just To Hold My Hand.” Given her gospel upbringing, Dee Dee hadn’t heard any of these songs until producer Appell displayed “the patience of Job” in presenting them. “But I was a quick study,” she told Ed Osborne in the liner notes, “and that’s how I made it.”
• John Zacherle — Monster Mash/Scary Tales: “John Zacherle’s mystery is intact” writes Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian in his liner notes for this ghoulish reissue. “I’ve been a fan for 50 years and I still know next to nothing about him.” The originally “y”-less Zacherle was a late ’50s Philadelphia TV host known as Roland (pronounced Ro-land) who’d appear in a death mask of clown white and black shadow, hosting horror movies. After his Philly stint he resurfaced on New York TV as “Zacherley” but would return to Philadelphia to record horror novelty hits for Cameo Parkway including “Dinner with Drac Part 1.” He also parodied several Cameo hits, with producers Appell and Mann using the original instrumental tracks. (Sebastian found himself marveling, “Boy, he really gets the band to sound like the real record.”) Other songs on this twofer include a cover of the Bobby “Boris” Pickett hit “Monster Mash” plus Cameo Parkway parodies “Let’s Twist Again (Mummy Time is Here)”, “Popeye (The Grave Digger)”, “Weird Watusi”, “Pistol Stomp” and “Limb from Limbo Rock”. Also included are bonus tracks “Dinner With Drac Part 2” plus alternate versions of “Scary Tales From Mother Goose” and “Igor”. Zacherle rises from the dead on the special street date of October 26, just in time for Halloween.
•Various Artists: Cameo-Parkway Holiday Hits: Like any self-respecting independent label of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, Cameo Parkway recorded its share of holiday-themed recordings, and this 18 track collection wraps ‘em into one tidy package. In that only four of the songs have been on CD, Christmas really has arrived for collectors. The compilation includes “Jingle Bell Rock” by Bobby Rydell & Chubby Checker; “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, “Winter Wonderland” and “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” by the Rudolph Statler Orchestra; “Joy to the World”, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, “The First Noel” and “Deck the Halls” by the International Pop Orchestra; “Merry Christmas” and “New Year’s Eve” by the Cameos; “Auld Lang Syne” by Beethoven Ben and “White Christmas (3 O’Clock Weather Report)” by Bobby the Poet; “I’ll Stay Home New Year’s Eve” by the Jaynells; “Twelve Days of Christmas” by the Mexicani Marimba Band and “Donde Este Santa Claus (Where Is Santa Claus)?” by Toni Stante; “Auld Lang Syne” by Bob Johnson And The Lonesome Travelers and “Sock It to Me Santa” by Bob Seger And The Last Heard. Plus, as a special bonus, Collectors’ Choice has unearthed an uproarious duet between Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell: “Jingle Bells Imitations”.