Friday, March 23, 2012

Vinyl Obscurities 12 - Rivingtons v Trashmen

Sixties surf rock band The Trashmen are appearing in London next month on the back of the campaign in late 2010 to get their 1963 nonsense song Surfin' Bird to the Christmas number one download spot ahead of that year's X Factor effort. In the event it went to number 3 - a remarkable success for a record which went largely unnoticed in the UK when it first came out, despite its manic, aggressive early punk sound. At the time, The Trashmen were riding on the backs of another group, a doowop outfit called the Rivingtons, who had US hits with Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow and The Bird's The Word - both of which were shamelessly copied (or more accurately trashed) by The Trashmen (without writing credits at the time) in both Surfin' Bird and their follow up Bird Dance Beat. All of the original UK singles are now quite collectable so here are three of them that I have in my collection, which don't quite fall into the category of vinyl obscurities, but certainly count as classics of their kind.
1. The Rivingtons - Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow/ Deep Water. Released in 1962 on Liberty LIB 55427. Mint value - £50.
The Rivingtons were previously known as The Sharps and backed Thurston Harris on Little Bitty Pretty One in 1957. They also provided the 'rebel yells' on several Duane Eddy records including Rebel Rouser. Their follow up Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow flopped and was unissued in the UK at the time, but they came back strongly with the very similar The Bird's The Word in 1963.
2. The Trashmen - Surfin' Bird/ King Of The Surf. Released in 1963 on Stateside SS 255. Mint value - £35.
Despite the obvious steal from both Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow and The Bird's The Word, this original 45 by Minneapolis band The Trashmen is attributed to drummer and vocalist Steve Wahrer (now sadly deceased). Legal action was threatened by the Rivingtons, who were later credited with the song. The record reached number 4 in the US and was resurrected in 2008 when it was featured in Family Guy, before becoming the focus of the UK Christmas campaign in 2010.
3. The Trashmen - Bird Dance Beat/ A-Bone. Released in 1963 on Stateside SS 276. Mint value - £35.
The anarchic style of Surfin' Bird was followed up in almost identical style by Bird Dance Beat, with the phrase Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow repeated endlessly. This time the song was credited to record label owner George Garrett.


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