Long before the triumvirate of Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell immortalized “The Sound of Philadelphia” as silky, smooth soul, Cameo-Parkway Records supplied the soundtrack to the City of Brotherly Love. The label may be best known for dances like the 81, the Twist, the Hully Gully, the Wah-Watusi and the Mashed Potato, or for teenage icons like Bobby Rydell. But Cameo-Parkway’s roster was in fact much more diverse, from garage rockers ? and the Mysterians to doo-wop legend Johnny Maestro and even the Kinks.
Cameo Records was founded in 1956 by songwriters Bernie Lowe and Kal Mann, with Dave Appell by their side. In 1958, Parkway Records joined their budding empire. By late 1961, Cameo-Parkway had become the first independent record label to go public on the stock market, and they handily lived up to their slogan “The big ones are on Cameo-Parkway!” The hits dried up post-British Invasion, though, and controversial manager/ impresario Allen Klein acquired a controlling interest in the company in 1967. By 1969, Klein had renamed the company ABKCO Industries, and Cameo’s original recordings became scarce as Klein focused on higher-profile clients such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.
Cameo-Parkway’s vaults weren’t opened for the CD era until 2005 when ABKCO released Cameo-Parkway: 1957-1967 (ABKCO OX01-92232), a four-disc box set charting the company’s rise and fall. A series of seven individual artist compilations and a single disc distillation of the box set followed, but no further titles ever materialized, until now. ABKCO and Collectors’ Choice Music are joining forces to embark on an extensive Cameo-Parkway reissue campaign, and the first six CDs are scheduled for release on or about April 20 directly through Collectors’ Choice. A street date will be announced shortly for general retail. These titles range from the expected (Chubby Checker’s original, sought-after twist albums) to the wildly unexpected (Clint Eastwood sings!) and all boast new liner notes and extensive packaging. Which albums have gotten the deluxe treatment? Click to find out!
- Clint Eastwood – Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites, which has been expanded with both sides of a 1962 single;
- Terry Knight & The Pack – Terry Knight & The Pack and Reflections, a two-fer of the 1966 and 1967 albums by the garage band that introduced Grand Funk’s Mark Farner and Don Brewer;
- Bobby Rydell – Bobby Rydell Salutes the Great Ones and Rydell at the Copa, two 1961 efforts by Rydell to broaden his teenage fan base, a la contemporary Bobby Darin;
- Chubby Checker – It’s Pony Time and Let’s Twist Again, Checker’s 1961 dance floor stompers;
- The Orlons – The Wah-Watusi and South Street, the 1962 and 1963 albums by Cameo’s most popular vocal group; and
- Remember Me, Baby: Cameo-Parkway Vocal Groups Volume One, a 24-track compilation with only one track ever previously released on CD.
For those who are interested in purchasing all six titles in advance of their general retail street date, Collectors’ Choice is offering a special bonus sampler disc, containing selections from the six releases, plus songs from upcoming additions to the series and one unreleased track that will only appear on the sampler. Details can be found here. Get ready: it’s Mashed Potato Time again!