Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Latest In Rock 'N' Roll: The Earliest in Counterfeit Music

It's not always easy to tell a counterfeit. But sometimes you come across something that just screams it's fake. Even if you have to turn it around for it to start making noise. And this album's gonna get loud. Oh, it's a real record, and there's real music on it...just not the exact music '50s kids were clamoring for. And as you'll find out later, the music's not all that's loud on this album - one of the earliest from a genre I call "rocksploitation."

You've probably seen it on TV innumerable times: Now That's What I Call Music has done over 50 albums of repackaged hits. K-Tel, Ronco and Adam-VII used to do the same thing. They were pretty top-tier since they were all from the "Original Hits, Original Artists" school. Lesser labels like QMO and Pickwick had in-house bands to re-record popular songs, and occasionally rewrite a few lyrics to avoid having to pay royalties.

Then you had the bottom of the barrel: the strictly no-name bands on strictly no-name labels trying their damnedest to cash in on whatever was popular at the time, artistic integrity or even ethics  notwithstanding.

OK, let's dissect all this:

That's the first clue you've got something a little bit special. They're bragging that you get to hear 100% of every song!  They recorded every note. In fairness, I point out that that didn't always happen with albums like these.

"OK, uh...Let's Go? The crystal ball lady said that won't be a hit for a few years yet. Round Robin? I don't remember the words exactly, but that doesn't sound right. Low Man? Stampede? Blazing Home? Well, now it sounds like I bought a country-and-western album! What's going on here? And I've never heard Moon Dream and Sky Rocket on my transistor radio before. I must have the wrong station on. Where are those 'top hits and current favorites' I thought I was getting?"

I know I didn't ask for any of these songs, but yes, I guess you can dance to them, so technically they may have been honest about that.

And speaking of "technically:" I cleaned this record before I dubbed the two tracks you're about to hear. These budget labels were not well known for sound quality, despite what some of them would have you believe. I've even heard of some labels recycling their vinyl, melting it down to be pressed into other records. I can't help but wonder if this happened here...or whether people who bought this record wished they could do.

Here's that little-known gem, Jump The Gun. How many defenseless sax reeds had to die for this one?

I think someone deserves a Time Out: