Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vinyl Obscurities - blue Top Rank

This time for my Vinyl Obscurities I'm featuring some early 45s on the independent Top Rank label, which released some of the more obscure US (and UK) singles from the late 50s. Top Rank later changed to a red and white label and was taken over by EMI, before being scrapped in 1961 and its releases transferred to HMV and, later, the Stateside labels.
1. The Bell-Notes - I've had it/ Be mine. Mint value - £12.
The Bell-Notes were a New York rock and roll group who had three UK releases on Top Rank. A pretty raw sound but effective.
2. Wilbert Harrison - Kansas City/ Listen, my darling. Mint value - £20.
Wilbert Harrison hit it big with this Leiber/Stoller song first recorded by Little Willie Littlefield and recorded for Bobby Robinson's Fury label. Ten years later he had success with Let's Stick Together. He died in 1994.
3. The Crests - Flower of love/ Molly Mae. Mint value - £25.
Doowop group The Crests featured the voice of Johnny Maestro and had a major hit with Sixteen Candles. This follow up was less successful but they continued to produce a string of classics including Six Nights A Week, The Angels Listened In, Step By Step and Trouble In Paradise.
4. Skip and Flip - It Was I/ Lunch Hour. Mint value £10.
The duo comprised Skip Battin and Gary Paxton, who had a major US hit with It Was I and a couple of successful follow ups - Fancy Nancy and Cherry Pie. Gary Paxton went on to success with Alley Oop (Hollywood Argylls) and Monster Mash ( Bobby 'Boris' Pickett.
5. Billie and Lillie - Bells Bells Bells/ Honeymoonin'. Mint value £10.
Billy (Ford) and Lillie (Bryant) had a number of US hits on Swan, starting with La Dee Dah. Most were written by Bob Crewe and produced by Frank Slay who later had huge success with Freddy Cannon and the Four Seasons.
6. Little Bill & The Bluenotes - I Love an angel/ Bye Bye Baby. Mint value £25.
'Little Bill' Engelhart led this Tacoma, Washington, based white R and B band and this, their first record, was produced by Bonnie Guitar. The band is still around today and, I would think  well worth seeing should you ever get their way.
7. Big Bob - Your line was busy/ What Am I. Mint value £30.
This is a great rock and roll record by Bob Komegay, formerly bass singer with the doowop group the Du Droppers. A one off UK release which is much more popular now than back in the day.
8. Frankie Ford - Alimony/ Can't Tell My heart. Mint value £12.
New Orleans legend Frankie Ford released this as the follow up to Sea Cruise, and it's very nearly as good, with fantastic backing from Huey 'Piano' Smith's band once more. Frankie was on the bill at the Ponderosa Stomp last year, and long may be last.
9. Johnny Adams - Come On/ Nowhere To Go. Mint value £10.
Here's another New Orleans legend - the Tan Canary Johnny Adams, who had one of the most beautiful voices of all time. Here he is with New Orleans group The Gondoliers on a one off release in the UK. Sadly he died in 1998. Watch out for a Vinyl Word feature on Johnny coming soon.
10. Bobby Hendricks - Sincerely Your Lover/ Little John Green. Mint value £20.
Another great voice was that of Bobby Hendricks, who sang lead on The Drifters' Drip Drop and who had a big solo hit with Itchy Twitchy Feeling. I can't find Sincerely Your Lover on YouTube so here is what may well have been the official A side, the equally good Little John Green.
11. Five Satins - Wonderful Girl/ Weeping Willow. Mint value £50.
The Five Satins were one of the foremost doowop groups of the fifties and their smash hit In The Still Of The Night is the archetypal doowop song. This later release shows that despite personnel changes they retained their high standards.


At 9:35 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nick

Great list mate. Hadn't heard the Bobby hendricks or the 5 satins before and both enjoyable. Coudln't resist anohter play of the Big Bob and Frankie Ford tracks - both classics. Do you have a copy of the Penny Candy 45 'Come On Over' think it is a little later so likely to be an EMI pressing? I've not got a copy but have always liked it.
John S

At 7:46 am , Blogger Nick said...

No I don't have that one. Will have to look out for it. It would be a red and white pressing, but possibly pre EMI. I will have a look at later Top Rank 45s some time soon.


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