Dee Dee Sharp, It’s Mashed Potato Time, Cameo 1018, 1962
It’s Thanksgiving week here, and I’m thankful for finding so many original, but affordable Cameo Records as I have this year. This Dee Dee Sharp record was huge in 1962, and the Mashed Potato dance crazy resulting from this album lasted a few years. What’s the best way to top mashed potatoes? Gravy, of course, and that top ten hit is also included.
Chubby Checker wrote the liner notes (probably just like he “wrote The Twist). Cameo was smart to put the two of them together of Slow Twisting’, yet another top ten hit. Things were so good for Cameo at the time, that they wrote Mashed Potato Time based around the other hits of the day. When The Marvelettes’ Please Mister Postman got a mention, the Cameo producer turns the echo way up on the same line (“deliver the letter”) as Motown did on the original version.
If you find a record like this, buy it. Even if it’s not your kind of music, it’s still a great addition to any collection. Original albums featuring important hits will always have value, and this one is no exception.
Cost: $5, $624 Remaining
Chubby Checker, Twist With Chubby Checker, Parkway 7001, 1960
This is the record that started it all. It’s easy to see why it was a hit. A brand new artist on a brand new label from a red hot record company, with plenty of promotion on the hottest teen tv program, American Bandstand…it almost couldn’t fail. That it caused an avalanche of copies, both good and bad, and set the tone for American Pop until the arrival of The Beatles doesn’t mean that on it’s own, this is a great record.
There’s no Twist lesson on the back, just a big picture of an 19 year old starlted by his sudden success. The music is all dance related, perfect for what people bought albums for in 1960. It really is all you need for a party, and it’s the perfect way to end Twist week.
It’s not in perfect shape, but it is the best copy I’ve ever seen. Parkway was the brand new subsidiary of Philadelphia based Cameo Records. Knowing that the label one was on would define you as an artist, it would be interesting to know if Parkway was started to keep Chubby Checker away from the teen idols Bobby Rydell and Fabian clean, ahem, white image. Either way, this is a record that stands up today unlike virtually anything else the company released. And it’s a record I’m glad I found.
Cost: $2, $781 Remaining
Chubby Checker, Twistin’ Round The World, Parkway 7008, 1962
It’s usually good to be the king, but Chubby Checker doesn’t agree. Perhaps being The King Of The Twist isn’t the same as being The King of England, or even The King of Rock & Roll. Chubby feels so trapped by his twist typecast that he actually staged a one man protest outside the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. It probably doesn’t help though, that records like this are out there as evidence against his case for admission.
Naturally, there is the obligatory twist lesson on the back, this time with Chubby himself confusing things with solitary images of a fluid motion. The Twist doesn’t really cry out for a Lasso Step. But at least they did try a different approach with the music here. It’s just that Chubby Checker clearly doesn’t speak Hebrew, German, French, Italian, Greek or Spanish. And that is painfully obvious, beyond the fact that Let’s Twist Again doesn’t sound good auf Deutsch, especially off tempo.
I really do feel bad for the guy. No one likes to be the biggest thing in music one day, and then unheard of for the rest of his life. And peaking before age 25 has got to be hard. It’s just that it’s really hard to find a record of his that passes the creative test. Well, beyond the one, anyway.
Cost: $2, $783 Remaining
Bobby Rydell, Bobby Sings, Bobby Swings, Cameo 1007, 1960
At first glance, my reaction to this record was “duh”. Of course Bobby Sings, it would be a terrible album if Bobby Danced. But I snagged it anyway because of it’s age and condition, but mostly because I know I’d never find another one. Again, I collect records not music, so it’s not at all strange for me to buy a record that I have only a small chance to ever listen to.
When I got home, I flipped it over and that’s when that Bobby doesn’t only sing, but Bobby Swings as well! While I think Cameo Records put the wrong picture with the wrong side of this proto-concept album, it was maybe a pretty smart move to show that this teen idol could sing about more than his Swingin’ School.
And it worked too. Even though Domenico Modugno’s Nel Blu Di Pinto Di Blu had hit #1 18 months prior, Bobby’s swinging version of a watered down Volare beat out Dean Martin’s version to peak at #4. And that led to 18 year old Bobby Rydell to becoming the youngest performer to headline the famous Copacabana Nightclub. So while the side where Bobby sings is pretty awful (!), the side where Bobby swings is pretty darned ok!
Cost: $2, $813 Remaining