Aces High! “The London American Label: 1957,” “Mod Jazz Forever” and “Smash Boom Bang: Feldman-Goldstein-Gotteher” Available Now
The ace compilation experts at, well, Ace Records are offering up plenty of Smash, Boom and Bang (both in impact and in label name!) for your buck with their diverse slate of February releases. You’ll find top-drawer pop, rock and soul for connoisseurs and beginners alike among the label’s latest. Perhaps the most unexpected is the new entry in the label’s long-running Songwriters and Producers series. Smash Boom Bang! The Songs and Productions of Feldman-Goldstein-Gotteher (Ace CDCHD 1317) turns the spotlight on those three named gentlemen who supplied hits for The Strangeloves, The McCoys and The Angels, not to mention the young Ronnie James Dio.
Although the surnames of Bob, Jerry and Richard didn’t have the easy ring of “Mann and Weil” or “Goffin and King,” they travelled the same New York streets. Encouraged early on by Snuff Garrett and Wes Farrell, the F-G-G team hustled songs to a wide variety of artists across genre lines. If you don’t know the names of Messrs. Feldman, Goldstein and Gotteher, you’ll undoubtedly know “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Hang On, Sloopy” and “I Want Candy,” and you just might be surprised to find that all three songs were the work (either in songwriting, production or both) of the same team. Smash Boom Bang takes its name from three prominent labels, the last of which was founded by Bert Berns. As Berns’ tragically short-lived career has already been anthologized by Ace, this collection makes the perfect companion to those earlier two volumes.
Producers Rob Finnis and Mick Patrick have curated the set to include the most famous recordings by the team, but there are expectedly delicious rarities blended in, as well, including Dion DiMucci’s demo of “Swingin’ Street,” a F-G-G song with a barroom sing-along feel. Even “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Hang On, Sloopy” appear in their original, unedited versions, adding value for the collector.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are plenty of choice “sixties girls” sounds. Patty Lace and the Petticoats’ “Girl, Don’t Trust That Boy” is a quintessential, if largely unknown, girl group record from 1964, but it’s no surprise that the team had mastered the girl group genre, having written “My Boyfriend’s Back” the previous year. The story behind that masterwork is still one shrouded in mystery, but Finnis goes a long way in explaining the brouhaha in his copious notes. When The Angels fell out with F-G-G, they attempted to replicate the group’s sound on a variety of records such as The Pin-Ups’ delightful “Lookin’ for Boys,” though their mileage varied. One standout track is Debra Swisher’s 1965 take on The Beach Boys’ “You’re So Good to Me,” with Swisher’s recording tougher than the original. Her piercing lead vocals lend the song an entirely new dimension. The track was arranged by one “Bassett Hand,” proving that the F-G-G team couldn’t resist a good pun! F-G-G tried to combine the best of both worlds with The Powderpuffs’ rather humorous “You Can’t Take My Boyfriend’s Woody” (“It don’t look like much, but when he pops that clutch/You’ll think you’re in reverse!”) slyly aping the early Beach Boys style.
We continue with this hitmaking trio, plus lots more – including track listings and order links for Smash Boom Bang, Mod Jazz Forever and The London American Label 1957 – after the jump!
Did Feldman, Goldstein and Gotteher evinced too much versatility of style? The Chic-Lets’ “I Want You to Be My Boyfriend” beautifully apes Phil Spector, complete with honking saxophone, and Ray Pollard’s “The Drifter” is uptown soul with an arrangement and chords that might have made Burt Bacharach take notice! (The song was written for former Drifter Ben E. King.) In a similar vein is Jerry Butler’s superb “Giving Up On Love” on Vee-Jay (“I’m giving up on love/Before love gives up on me…”).
The McCoys’ 1965 “Sorrow,” later covered by David Bowie, has a folk-rock feel akin to the best work of the Beau Brummels, but the immortal “Hang On, Sloopy” immortalized the group. Their story is intertwined with that of The Strangeloves, and Ace’s release tells the tale both in music and words. The Strangeloves were the product of an elaborate hoax; the reportedly-Australian band behind the raucous garage rocker “I Want Candy” (later covered by Bow Wow Wow!) in fact counted as its members Feldman, Goldstein and Gotteher themselves! (Bob Feldman: “We’re not British, we’re Yiddish!”) The group’s name came from the Stanley Kubrick film Doctor Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
The Strangeloves had transformed Wes Farrell and Bert Berns’ “My Girl Sloopy” (originally recorded by The Vibrations in 1964) into “Hang On, Sloopy,” and were performing the song live when they found that a competing version by the Dave Clark Five was poised to climb up the charts. Not wishing to compete with the still on-the-rise “I Want Candy,” Feldman, Goldstein and Gotteher persuaded their Dayton, Ohio backing band, Rick (Derringer!) and the Raiders, to record the song. Though F-G-G never received writing credit for their work on the Farrell/Berns original, they were rewarded with a No. 1 anthem.
In addition to Derringer, F-G-G also worked with another star-to-be in the form of the young Ronald Padavona, or Ronnie Dio. With his band The Prophets, Dio recorded the team’s “Gonna Make It Alone,” co-written by Dion. With its handclaps and doo-wop overtones, it might be a surprise for fans of the late, great singer’s hard rock, but Dio’s strong vocals were already very much in evidence. Dean Parrish reinvented The Exciters’ “Tell Him” (a Bert Berns composition) in a hard-driving version for F-G-G, also heard here.
Rob Finnis’ lengthy liner notes over a snazzy 26 pages take essay form rather than track-by-track, but information is plentiful. There are many nuggets such as the story of F-G-G’s friendship with Neil Diamond, persuaded by the team to sign to their publishing firm, April/Blackwood Music. This, in turn, led to Diamond’s first signing with Columbia Records and an association with Tom Catalano, later the producer of his smash hits at Uni Records. The partnership of Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gotteher, alas, only lasted roughly four years beginning in 1962. Goldstein went on to produce War and manage Sly Stone (what a job that must have been!), while Gotteher founded Sire with Seymour Stein and later went on to produce the Go-Go’s and Blondie. All three men remain friends to this day.
While Feldman, Goldstein and Gotteher were blazing the pop charts, a very different musical movement was occurring. What is mod jazz? If you don’t know, Ace’s Mod Jazz Forever (Kent Dance CDKEND 368) will surely clue you in: “60s jazz grooves for the sharp-suited and soul-minded,” as the label reads. The compilation’s twenty-four tracks pick up where previous volumes left off, but knowledge of those Mod Jazz albums is hardly necessary to enjoy the goodies here. There are both instrumentals and vocals, and all occupy that rarefied place where soul meets jazz. And oh yeah, there’s plenty with a beat to which you can get up and dance! Jesse Davis’ 1967 “Night Bloomin’ Jasmin” has that infectious beat but also a hint of lounge and swing, while Little Bob’s “Look Out, Mr. Heartaches” (1965) recalls early James Brown in its funky track and pleading vocal.
One of Mod Jazz Forever’s six vintage tracks making their first-ever appearances, Floyd White’s “Finders Keepers” seduces with its soulful, wailing female vocals, driving piano riff weaving in and out, and plenty of drama. Another one of these previously-unissued tracks, “Double Love,” is a breakneck 1950s throwback from San Francisco’s The Cals (“To love two women may not be exactly right/But I love my pretty baby and I love my wife!”).
Ernie Freeman, whose C.V. ranges from Simon and Garfunkel to Frank Sinatra, arranged Clint Stacy’s dark 1965 version of Nat Adderley’s “Work Song,” and other familiar songs appear via the groovy, previously unreleased organ-driven “Sunshine Superman” performed by Bocking, Robinson and Morais as well as a screaming, live “Fever” courtesy of Buddy Guy in 1969. It’s as smoking as Peggy Lee’s rendition is cool and detached. Johnny “Hammond” Smith proffers a dizzying, driving organ take on Billy Page’s “The In Crowd.” You’ll want to be a part of this in crowd, for sure.
The musicianship on these 24 tracks is top-notch, from the sizzling piano of George Stone’s “My Beat” to the vibes of the Johnny Lytle Trio’s gentle and exotic “Village Caller.” The inimitable Mark Murphy, a true jazz vocal legend, even makes an appearance with the jazzy bossa of 1962’s “It’s Like Love.” Dean Rudland co-produces the set with Ady Croasdell, and supplies liner notes in the 12-page booklet.
Turning the clock back to the 1950s, The London American Label continues the successful series chronicling the beloved label that brought many of the best U.S. singles to British shores. The London American Label: 1957 (Ace CDCHD 1318) is similar to these other sets as it seamlessly blends the familiar and the rare, but believe me, there are plenty of famous songs here: Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday,” Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” (his first British 45!), and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” among them. As with the best of Ace’s releases, the London American Label discs are comprehensive enough to form the backbone of a serious musical education, but, goodness, gracious! They’re also a helluva good time, and every track is presented in its original mono single form as it might have been blaring from your phonograph in 1957!
It should be noted, too, that every track has been fully licensed by the copyright owner, even though Ace is under no obligation to do so in the United Kingdom, where those tracks are (for the time being, at least) in the public domain. This speaks volumes about the high quality of this ongoing series; every track on this volume has been remastered by Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering Ltd. Beware of imitations!
This series even debunks revisionist attitudes; Eric Dunsdon’s opening note asserts that pre-1960s Britain was far from “dull and grey.” There’s ample evidence on this disc’s 28 tracks that the era was, indeed, “exciting and colourful.” By the numbers, there were 178 releases on the London American label in 1957; 35 (or roughly, 20%) charted, with 13 making the Top 10 and three going all the way to No. 1. The 28 tracks here are the crème de la crème.
What makes this series so irresistible is the sheer variety of performers represented. Rockin’ and rollin’ hellraisers from Jerry Lee Lewis to Little Richard and Chuck Berry (whose “You Can’t Catch Me,” heard here, provided the germ of John Lennon’s “Come Together”) are feature alongside the rather more staid Pat Boone, Tab Hunter and Second Disc favorite Andy Williams. Boone’s “Why Baby Why” is actually an early Luther Dixon song, and not one of the cover records for which he’s somewhat notoriously known, although African-American Roy Brown does a Pat Boone-in-reverse with his fine cover of Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll.” Patience and Prudence’s “We Can’t Sing Rhythm and Blues” is a fascinating curio from the young sisters, aged 12 and 15, and George Hamilton IV is responsible for the compilation’s most bizarre track…sort of. It seems that mention of a trade name in a song was forbidden on the BBC circa 1957, so the licensor of “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” delivered to London a re-recorded version, poorly and unbelievably overdubbed by a Hamilton imitator to “A Rose and a Candy Bar,” natch.
Many tracks on this volume come from Hollywood’s embrace of the burgeoning rock and roll scene, including a handful from The Girl Can’t Help It and other selections from Mister Rock and Roll, Rock, Rock, Rock! and Shake, Rattle and Rock. Among the songs from The Girl Can’t Help It is Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” in its original film soundtrack version, minus the Johnny Mann Singers’ somewhat somnambulant backing vocals. Nino Tempo offers a honking slice of saxophonic fun with “Tempo’s Tempo” from the same film.
There’s unbridled joy of a new discovery in so much of this music, including Bill Haley and His Comets’ “Rock This Joint.” No, it isn’t a sound-alike of “Rock Around the Clock,” but rather an earlier song on which the later, more famous one was based, right down to the near-identical guitar solo! There are, of course, lightweight moments, too, like Merle (“Ring of Fire”) Kilgore’s “Ernie” (“That dirty, dirty Ernie stole my gal!”) and the bizarrely absurd “Bullfrog Hop” from Nervous Norvus.
Tony Rounce has supplied the frankly awesome track-by-track notes for The London American Label 1957. Watch this space for our upcoming review and feature of two more recent Ace offerings, The Apollas’ Absolutely Right! The Complete Tiger, Loma and Warner Bros. Recordings, and Eddie Holland’s bountiful It Moves Me: The Complete Recordings 1958-1964!
Below, you’ll find the full track listings and order links for each title!
Various Artists, The London American Label: 1957 (Ace CDCHD 1318, 2012)
- Blue Monday – Fats Domino (HLP 8377)
- You Can’t Catch Me – Chuck Berry (HLN 8375)
- I Walk the Line – Johnny Cash (HL 8358)
- Keep A Knockin’ – Little Richard (HLO 8509)
- Why Baby Why – Pat Boone (HLD 8404)
- Twenty Flight Rock – Eddie Cochran (HLU 8386)
- Wandering Eyes – Charlie Gracie (HL 8467)
- A Rose and a Candy Bar – George Hamilton IV (HL 8361)
- I Like Your Kind of Love – Andy Williams (HLA 8437)
- My Idea of Love – Johnny Olenn and His Band (HLU 8388)
- Rock the Joint – Bill Haley and His Comets (HLF 8371)
- Step It Up and Go – Mac Wiseman (HLD 8412)
- White Silver Sands – Don Rondo (HLJ 8466)
- Ernie – Merle Kilgore (HLP 8392)
- Party Doll – Roy Brown (HLP 8398)
- Your True Love – Carl Perkins (HLS 8408)
- Ninety Nine Ways – Tab Hunter (HLD 8410)
- Rock and Cry – Clyde McPhatter (HLE 8525)
- I Knew From the Start – The Moonglows (HLN 8374)
- We Can’t Sing Rhythm and Blues – Patience and Prudence (HLU 8425)
- Rakin’ and Scrapin’ – Dean Beard with the Crew Cats (HLE 8463)
- That Train Has Gone – Chuck Willis (HLE 8489)
- Lipstick, Powder and Paint – Joe Turner (HLE 8357)
- The Bullfrog Hop – Nervous Norvus (HLD 8383)
- One More Time – Ruth Brown (HLE 8483)
- Feelin’ Low – Ernie Chaffin (HLS 8409)
- Tempo’s Tempo – Nino Tempo and His Band (HLU 8387)
- Great Balls of Fire – Jerry Lee Lewis (HLS 8529)
All tracks originally released 1957 on the London American label.
Various Artists, Mod Jazz Forever (Kent Dance CDKEND 368, 2012)
- The Real Thing –Troy Dodds (El Camino 701, 1966)
- Finders Keepers – Floyd White (previously unreleased)
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf Part 2 – The Nightbeats (previously unreleased)
- Rod Run – The Reuben Wilson Quartet (Flodavieur 603, 1961)
- Night Bloomin’ Jasmin’ – Jesse Davis (Era 3187, 1967)
- Return of the Prodigal Son – Byrdie Green (Prestige LP 7574, 1968)
- Look Out Mr. Heartaches – Little Bob (La Louisianne 8091, 1965)
- Talkin’ About Love – Tobi Lark (Topper 1011, 1965)
- D.H. Boogaloo – The Dave Hamilton Set (previously unreleased)
- Screamin’ – Jack McDuff (Prestige 246, 1962)
- Because I Love You – The Dave Hamilton Voices (BGP CD CDBGPD 177, 2006)
- Looking- Billy Larkin and His Orchestra (Flodavieur 702, 1961)
- Double Love – The Cals (previously unreleased)
- Sunshine Superman – Bocking, Robinson, Morais (previously unreleased0
- A Message to Regina – Hank Jacobs (Call Me 5386, 1967)
- Tricky Too – Gus Jenkins (previously unreleased)
- Fever – Buddy Guy (Vanguard 35080, 1969)
- John Henry – Bobby Jenkins and His Quartet (Vistone 2030, 1962)
- Work Song – Clint Stacy (Musicor 1088/Gaslight 777, 1965)
- My Beat – George Stone (Musicor 1122, 1965)
- The In Crowd – Johnny “Hammond” Smith (Prestige LP 7494, 1967)
- Burgher’s Beat – John Hart with Li’l Bob and the Lollipops (A La Louisianne Recording, 1993)
- The Village Caller – Johnny Lytle Trio (Riverside LP 9480, 1963)
- It’s Like Love – Mark Murphy (Riverside 4537, 1962)HKLPH
Various Artists, Smash Boom Bang! The Songs and Productions of Feldman – Goldstein – Gotteher (Ace CDCHD 1317, 2012)
- Night Time – The Strangeloves (Bang 514, 1966)
- Let’s Stomp – Bobby Comstock (Lawn 202, 1963)
- My Boyfriend’s Back (Unedited Version) – The Angels (Smash LP SRS 67039, 1963)
- Hang On Sloopy (Unedited Version) – The McCoys (Bang LP 220, 1970)
- Hide and Seek – The Sheep (Boom 60.000, 1966)
- Girls, Don’t Trust That Boy – Patty Lace and the Petticoats (Kapp 585, 1965)
- You’re So Good to Me – Debra Swisher (Boom 60.001, 1965)
- Sorrow – The McCoys (Bang 511, 1965)
- Gonna Make It Alone – Ronnie Dio and the Prophets (Lawn 218, 1963)
- Back in the U.S.A. – Ron Winters with the Patriots (Dimension 1029, 1964)
- I Want You To Be My Boyfriend – The Chic-Lets (Josie 919, 1964)
- Don’t Monkey with Tarzan – The Pygmies (Liberty 55624, 1963)
- The Drifter – Ray Pollard (UA 916, 1965)
- I Want Candy – The Strangeloves (Bang 501, 1965)
- I’m a Man – Bobby Comstock (Ascot 2175, 1965)
- Out in the Sun (Hey-O) – The Beach-Nuts (Bang 504, 1965)
- Tell Her – Dean Parrish (Boom 60.012, 1966)
- You’re Going Up to the Bottom – Giles Strange (Boom 60.002, 1966)
- Swingin’ Street (Demo) – Dion (previously unreleased)
- Lookin’ for Boys – The Pin-Ups (Stork 1, 1964)
- Giving Up on Love – Jerry Butler (Vee-Jay 588, 1964)
- Wonderful Guy – Diane Christian (previously unissued stereo underdub of Bell 610, 1964)
- (You Can’t Take) My Boyfriend’s Woody – The Powder Puffs (Imperial 66014, 1964)
- Snow Girl – Ron Winters (Dimension 1022, 1963)
- (At The) Discotheque – Chubby Checker (Parkway 949, 1965)
- What Time is It? – The Jive Five with Eugene Pitt (Belton 2024, 1962)