1964 will forever be remembered on American shores as the year of Beatlemania, when those four moptops from Liverpool led the British Invasion to the top of the pop charts. That tale has been chronicled many times, but one of the most recent releases from U.K.-based label Ace tells the story of the year’s American Invasion – via the American records imported to London on the London American label. This latest volume in the long-running series (which now features an entry for each year between 1956 and 1964) may be the most exciting and most eclectic yet. The London American Label: 1964 takes in an array of artists both familiar (Jerry Lee Lewis, Ben E. King, The Ronettes) and less-heralded (David Box, Ned Miller, Jimmy Holiday) and everybody in between in chronicling this exciting and musically diverse time.
In his liner notes, Tony Rounce sets the scene for the music, detailing the United Kingdom’s seismic shifts that year in politics, sports, architecture and culture. The London American label issued 111 singles in 1964, and 28 sides appear on the new compilation. These were drawn from U.S. labels including Philles, Atlantic, Hi, Dot, Stax and Kapp. By 1964, Pye and EMI both had their own dedicated labels for releasing American repertoire in the U.K., and by mid-year, Atlantic and Dot would cease supplying singles for release on London, too. Cadence also departed the London roster by the end of the year. In many respects, this crucial volume in the London American Label series points the way towards the end of an era. 1965 would be the final year that London’s release tally would total a three-digit number.
What will you find on this transatlantic showcase? Hit the jump for more details plus a full track listing with discography and order link!
Many of the best London American singles from 1964 were prime slabs of American R&B. You’ll hear Solomon Burke (“Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)”, The Drifters (“One Way Love”), The Coasters (“T’ain’t Nothin’ to Me”) and Ben E. King (“Around the Corner”) all originally from the Atlantic/Atco label. More vintage soul came courtesy of Lou Johnson, with Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “A Message to Martha (Kentucky Bluebird,” and future Al Green producer Willie Mitchell with “20-75.” The anthology also finds room for the Stax/Volt southern soul of Otis Redding (“Come to Me”) and Rufus Thomas (“Somebody Stole My Dog”). A smoother soul sound was delivered by Ruby and the Romantics with “Baby Come Home,” from the same team that wrote their smash “Our Day Will Come,” Bob Hilliard and Mort Garson.
Naturally, there’s plenty of inspired pop. Phil Spector’s Philles productions represented here include The Crystals’ “Uptown” and The Ronettes’ “Do I Love You.” Nino Tempo and April Stevens later followed the Spector template with such immaculate productions as “The Habit of Lovin’ You Baby” on White Whale, but here they’re heard on their Atco single revival of Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar’s 1925 “Tea for Two.” A more recent Broadway tune heard here is Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly!” It only made No. 4 in the U.K. despite bumping The Beatles off the top spot across the pond. And while the Fabs themselves didn’t appear on the London American label, Rounce and co-compiler Peter Gibbon have found room for The Chartbusters’ blatantly Beatle-aping “She’s the One.” Another delightfully off-kilter inclusion is an early single by Julius Wechter’s Baja Marimba Band. The A&M mainstays appear with “Comin’ in the Back Door,” originally released on A&M’s Almo International imprint. Pop crooner Jimmie Rodgers’ version of Rod McKuen’s “The World I Used to Know” makes a welcome appearance. The song was scheduled for a London-Dot single but was never actually issued. Those who paid attention to the songwriting credits knew that Jimmy Holiday co-wrote “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” with Jackie DeShannon and Randy Myers; here, he’s heard on a solo single, “I Lied,” which he didn’t write.
Rock and roll is duly represented with Jerry Lee Lewis’ storming “Lewis Boogie,” originally on Sun, and Del Shannon’s lesser-known “That’s the Way Love Is.” Terry Stafford, who capitalized on a vocal similarity to Elvis Presley with a hit cover of The King’s “Suspicion,” builds on the success of that song with a sound-alike arrangement on “I’ll Touch a Star.” David Box (“Little Lonely Summer Girl”) and Ray Ruff and the Checkmates (“I Took a Liking to You”) reminded record buyers of Buddy Holly’s guitar-slinging style with their high-energy singles. (Tragically, Box followed in Holly’s footsteps and perished in a plane crash at the age of 21 the very same week London issued “Little Lonely Summer Girl.”) Beyond rockabilly, there are some full-on country-and-western songs here, too, such as Jerry Wallace’s “Even the Bad Times Are Good” and Ned Miler’s “Do What You Do Well.”
Duncan Cowell has remastered all 28 tracks, and as always, Ace has utilized the original London master tapes wherever available. The 24-page booklet features copious illustrations and label scans, as well as Rounce’s introductory essay and detailed track-by-track notes. The London American Label: 1964 is available now in the U.K., and is due in the U.S. next Tuesday, June 25. It can be ordered at the link below!
- Lewis Boogie – Jerry Lee Lewis (HLS 9867)
- Uptown – The Crystals (HLU 9837)
- Little Lonely Summer Girl – David Box (HLU 9924)
- One Way Love – The Drifters (London-Atlantic HLK 9886)
- Oh! What a Feeling – Tommy Tucker (HLU 9932)
- Comin’ in the Back Door – The Baja Marimba Band (HL 9828)
- Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye) – Solomon Burke (London-Atlantic HLK 9887)
- Tea for Two – Nino Tempo and April Stevens (London-Atlantic HLK 9890)
- I’ll Touch a Star – Terry Stafford (HLU 9902)
- She’s the One – The Chartbusters (HLU 9906)
- Get Your Hat – Don & Dewey (HL 9897)
- That’s the Way Love Is – Del Shannon (HLU 9800)
- Tequila – Bill Black’s Combo (HLU 9903)
- I Took a Liking to You – Ray Ruff & The Checkmates (HLU 9889)
- A Message to Martha (Kentucky Bluebird) – Lou Johnson (HLX 9929)
- T’aint Nothin’ to Me – The Coasters (London-Atlantic HLK 9863)
- The World I Used to Know – Jimmie Rodgers (London-Dot HLD 9904, unissued)
- Somebody Stole My Dog – Rufus Thomas (HLK 9884)
- I Lied – Jimmy Holiday (HLY 9868)
- I Wish You Love – Gloria Lynne (HLY 9846)
- Around the Corner – Ben E. King (London-American HLK 9840)
- 20-75 – Willie Mitchell (HLU 9926)
- Even the Bad Times Are Good – Jerry Wallace (HLH 9914)
- Do I Love You? – The Ronettes (HLU 9922)
- Come to Me – Otis Redding (London-Atlantic HLK 9876)
- Baby Come Home -Ruby and the Romantics (HLR 9916)
- Do What You Do So Well – Ned Miller (HL 9937)
- Hello, Dolly! – Louis Armstrong & The All-Stars (HLR 9878)
All tracks originally released on London American unless otherwise indicated.