Saturday, January 20, 2007

HIT RECORDS

I am a big fan of pop music from the 'sixties. Something that fascinates me from that era is a now-defunct genre of budget knock-off records.

You see, people used to buy music back then. The way it was bought was on things called "phonograph records." They generally came in two types:

1. The seven inch 45 rpm "single" (pictured, above)

2. The twelve inch 33-1/3 rpm "album" or LP.

When, say, Dee Dee Sharpe would have a big hit with a song called "The Mashed Potato" many, many copies of the 45 rpm single would be sold. A lot of people (though probably not Dee Dee) would get rich from the mega-sales of these sort of things.

One group who would make money is the group of record producers who would record their own versions of "The Mashed Potato" and then market them cheaply, in as confusing a manner as possible, so that folks would either buy them by mistake or because they were thirty cents cheaper than the original, hit version.

One such company was the HIT RECORDS label out of Nashville. Quite often many of the same session musicians that played on the original hit version would re-records their parts with session vocalists filling in for the original "stars."

The HIT RECORDS from the early sixties are really good! The producers were very apt at recreating the girl group sounds of the day. Their knock-off of the twist records were also top-notch! As might be expected the C & W hits were rendered very faithfully.

Then something happened. That something was The Beatles. (And to a lesser extent The Beach Boys.)

While these Nashville session players were able to nail just about every musical style under the sun, including frat classics like "Louie Louie', they couldn't reverse-engineer The Beatles' records. Or they didn't want to. I theorize that they were so grossed out by the long-haired lads that the top session guys didn't want anything to do with 'em. I can't prove my theory, but quite a few of their Beatles knock-offs sound like the B squad!

This is not to say I don't like them, or that all of them are bad. For instance, while their version of "Can't Buy Me Love" sounds like it was sung by four Dudley Doo-Right impersonators, their take on "Twist And Shout" is very good!

Another great bonus is that some of the B-sides were original compositions that really caught the "vibe of the day!" Songs like "Bless You Little Girl" and "Right Or Wrong" are gems! In fact, I put together a CD-R of such songs and it is one of my favorite compilations.

I managed to get up with a fellow who had done extensive research into the HIT RECORDS story and is working towards writing a book on the subject. I sure hope this comes to pass, as there are quite a few interesting facets to their story. For instance, one of their staff writers was Bobby Russell, who wrote the Bobby Goldsboro hit "Honey." He later married Vicky Lawrence and wrote her one hit, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia." That's just one tid-bit about one guy.

I could probably do a whole blog based on my love of budget knock-off records. Heck, maybe even a podcast series! (I wish someone would!)

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14 Comments:

Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

While I am old enough to remember records and even owned a few, I had no idea about this. When I think of compilation hit records I remember K-Tell (I think that's what they were called). Very interesting.

January 21, 2007 3:15 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

whimsical: K-Tel would license the masters of the actual hit records for their compilations. Dyna-Mite Power Hits!

There was an entire industry of "budget labels" that would simply re-record versions of the actual hit records. Used to be you could find these sort of LPs in the "budget bins" at department stores, grocery stores, drugs stores and even gas stations!

The HIT RECORDS guys would collect 10 or twelve tracks into an LP and then sell it on their MODERN SOUND label, though they did also release LPs using the HIT RECORDS imprint, as well.

(Obviously, I could go on and on about this not-very-interesting subject..!)

The weekend's shot - hope everyone has a good week!

January 21, 2007 9:25 PM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

Looking for laughter
Pun after pun splitting sides
Vinyl is no joke

But interesting nonetheless! So there have always been pirates... Veering off into "A Mighty Wind" must have caused me to miss out on these budget bootleg opportunities and the chance to hear lyrics like:

She was always young at heart, kinda dumb and kinda smart...
She wrecked the car and she was sad
And so afraid that I'd be mad
But what the heck...


Oh, man! And to think I was wasting my time singing along with junk like, The answer my friend, is blowin' in the wind, the answer is blowin' in the wind by some phony little Jewish guy folksinger.

To borrow from Dr. Seuss:
“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

So... G'mornin' You. (And thanks for broadening my knowledge of pop music). Really.

January 22, 2007 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Nikki Webster said...

My boy lollypop
You make my heart go giddy up
You are as sweet as candy
You're my little sugar dandy
Wo ooh

My boy lollypop
Never never leave me
Because it will grieve me
My heart told me so

I love you, I love you, I love you so
But I dont want to know
I need you, I need you, I need you so
I'll never let you go ooooooohhhhhh

My boy lollypop
You make my heart go giddy up
You set the world on fire
You are my one desire
Wo ooh

January 22, 2007 9:19 AM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

Do yourself a favor and visit North Country Public Radio from 3 - 4:45 on Wednesdays for "The Radio Bob Show." He plays all these great old hits. Just click on the "Listen Live" link. Where else could you hear The Ramones?

January 22, 2007 9:29 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

nikki: Ah! MY BOY LOLLIPOP is one of my favorite records. It is also one of my wife's least favorites, and that's putting it mildly! (And, yes, HIT RECORDS also released a version of THAT song as well!)

wizard; Limericks! I need limericks! Thanks for the tip on the NCPR show. Office policy prohibits me from listening in though. Ramones? One of my li'l daughter's faves is "Blizkrieg Bop" owing to the "A-O-Let's Go" chant. In fact, this was getting a spin chez Davison just last night. She calls them "Baby Ramonies!"

Dare I post more about this subject? Time will tell...

January 22, 2007 9:59 AM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

There once was a fellow named Chuck
Who said expensive music sure sucks
So he purchased a knock-off
That blew both his socks off
And now he has tunes for few bucks!

January 22, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout, yo!

(And, yes, HIT RECORDS also had their own "folk music" releases as well. The ones I've heard were pretty good!)

What's next, iambec pentameter..?

January 22, 2007 10:22 AM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

I am becpentameter? But iamblank verse... and iambehind schedule feeding the horses... and my iambic feet are already cold...

This poetry stuff is getting too hard,
Maybe I should leave it to Craig the bard.

January 22, 2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger Craig D said...

Didn't the aforementioned Dr. Seuss write in sam-iambec pentameter?

(Gosh, am I even spelling this correctly?)

January 22, 2007 10:56 AM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

Touchet! Yes, I am sure that he penned in some ameter or other, and no doubt it was sam-iambic. Green eggs and ham would go very well with our poetry.

Isn't is a huge shame that our wit is being enjoyed by so few (when there are countless sad souls out there in Bloggerville who could use a good laugh)?

And now my time is gone. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one. Every day, from here to there, funny poems are everywhere.

January 22, 2007 11:04 AM  
Blogger The Wizened Wizard said...

One amusing after-thought: I just came back to my desk with intentions of making order out of chaos. There's the usual mountain of bills and papers and my little shelf of reference books: Webster's Dictionary, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Webster's Synonyms-Antonyms-Homonyms, Roget's Thesaurus, "A Pocket Guide to Correct Grammar", Strunk & White' "Elements of Style"... and Dr. Seuss's "One Fish Two Fish." Oh man! Look out world! I am writin' now!

January 22, 2007 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow! I'd LOVE to hear that CD on HIT Records 45's. Hard to find the info, as I've tried for many a label. www.bobkoenigmusic.com

August 07, 2007 9:17 PM  
Blogger Corrina Brown said...

Hi , I have an old Hit record label Album from Nashville
Title is
Current Hits Volume Nine
HLP 1009
Hit record label
side 1
sugar shack
then he kissed me
surfer girl
you can never stop loving me
sally, goes round the roses
be my baby
side 2
blue velvet
cry baby
mickey's monkey
hello heartache, goodbye love
wonderful! wonderful!
I can't stay mad at you

looking to sell

March 23, 2014 8:02 PM  

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