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
Various Artists, All The Hits By All The Stars, Parkway 7013, 1962
The Cameo-Parkway record company was on fire in 1962. Their stable of artists were on average the hottest recording acts that produced the best selling records of the era. They had the cutest teen idols, the sassiest girl groups, some above average doo-wop groups, plus the king and queen of the dance record in Chubby Checker and Dee Dee Sharp. Sure, the New York producers working out of the Brill Building wrote more sophisticated songs, Phil Spector in Los Angeles was perfecting the pop single, and a small Detroit based company called Motown was building a massive creative assembly line, but for a few shining months, Cameo-Parkway ruled the airwaves.
So why not take a bit of a victory lap and run up some sales with a company wide greatest hits package? Far from doing any damage creatively that a greatest hits package usually implies, this little album has Chubby Checker’s two #1 hits, four #2 hits, a few other top tens, and three top 20 songs. All were less than four years old at the time, so this was very much a contemporary hits package. Of course, all of these songs became pretty much obsolete once I Want To Hold Your Hand came along, but this was a big seller in it’s day.
And it also became a really huge collector’s item for a while. When the bubble burst on the teen dance hit sound, Cameo-Parkway collapsed like yesterday’s mashed potatoes into the usual story of corruption, bankruptcy and legal battles. Their entire catalogue of music was tied up for years until Alan Klein ended up with it somehow. He refused to release any of the music on CD for decades, insisting on only issuing cheaply remade 45s of Cameo artists with no money going to the artists. That’s why there are so many bad versions of these songs out there. Even by the “original artists”, no one really wants to listen to a 1974 Dutch recording of Pony Time. As a result, mint copies of this record were worth a lot in the 1990s because it was the only way to hear these records on LP. Now of course, with Alan Klein dead and the music out on CD and digital downloads, my patience was rewarded by finding this VG cope for $2.
Cost:$2, $644 Remaining