Friday, August 17, 2012

Vinyl Obscurities - HMV label

The His Masters Voice (HMV) logo goes back to the very beginnings of recorded sound - a photograph of the dog Nipper listening to a phonograph cylinder. From the earliest days of rock and roll and through to the late sixties it was one of the major EMI labels, issuing both US and UK records by the likes of Elvis, Danny and the Juniors, Ray Charles, Lloyd Price, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Sam Cooke, Johnny Kidd, Tommy Roe, Manfred Mann and Fats Domino.
For my HMV Vinyl Obscurities I've ignored these bigger names in the main and am focussing on some of the more obscure artists that had 45s released on the label - with Youtube links as usual.
1. Joe Bennett & the Sparkletones - Rocket/ Penny Loafers And Bobby Socks. Mint value £200.
This rockabilly group from Spartanburg, South Carolina, had just two releases on HMV (the other was Black Slacks) and both are highly collectable. This double sider was their second and last hit and the band broke up in late 1958, although some further US releases were issued under the band's name the following year but only Joe and Wayne Arthur of the original Sparkletones were featured. Both sides are excellent and worth a listen.
 2. Mike Sagar & the Cresters - Deep Feeling/ You Know. Mint value £20.
This light pop number from 1960 was the first record by this Leeds-based group. Later there were a couple of 45s just attributed to the Cresters and one to group member Richard Harding. Mike is still performing today I believe.
 3. Jo Ann Campbell - Motorcycle Michael/ Puka Puka Pants. Mint value £20.
 Florida born Jo Ann was known as the Blonde Bombshell and had several US hits between 1958 and 1963, the biggest being The Girl From Wolverton Mountain - answer song to the Claude King hit. Motorcycle Michael, with appropriate sound effects, is a poppy number about a girl who is fed up with looking at the back of her boyfriend's head. God only knows what puka puka pants were.
 4. Bobby Angelo & the Tuxedos - Baby Sittin'/ Skinny Lizzie. Mint value £20.
This UK rocker still gets quite a few plays today. The band were from the Kingston on Thames area and this was quite a major hit across Europe. But they only had one further record released before breaking up.
 5. Philip Upchurch Combo - You Can't Sit Down parts 1 & 2. Mint value £35.
Later released on the Sue label, this driving instrumental is a classic, featuring jazz and R and B guitarist Phil Upchurch, who played with the likes of the Dells, Curtis Mayfield, Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Reed.
6. Barry Mann - Who Put The Bomp/ Love, True Love. Mint value £30.
This light hearted tribute to the doowop sound of groups like the Marcels and the Edsels was co-written with Geoff Goffin. But Barry enjoyed his greatest songwriting success with Cynthia Weil, on dozens of classics by the Crystals, Ronettes, Paul Revere, Jay and the Americans, the Drifters and the Righteous Brothers among others.

 7. The Impressions - Gypsy Woman/ As Long As You Love Me. Mint value £40.
OK, so this isn't particularly obscure, but this great record launched Curtis Mayfield's career after the break with Jerry Butler and the rest is history as they say. Later covers of the song were made by Major Lance, Brian Hyland and Bruce Springsteen to name a few.
 8. The Blue-Belles - I Sold My Heart To The Junkman/ Itty Bitty Twist. Mint value £25.
This song was written by Leon Rene (who also wrote Rockin' Robin) and first appeared in the 1940s, but there is debate over whether it really was Patti Labelle who sang lead. It was recorded by a group called the Starlets, but when it was released it was attribued to the Blue-Belles, possibly with Patti being added as lead vocal. Either way, Patti and her Belles went on to greatness but little more was heard of the Starlets. 
 9. The U.K.s - Your Love Is All I Want/ Ever Faithful, Ever True. Mint value £25.
Little seems to be known about this rather obscure freakbeat number from 1964, but from what I have gleaned the band came from the High Wycombe area and the lead singer was Tony Bailey. This was the official B side, but the A side is boring by comparison. Does anyone have any further info?
 10. The Marvels Five - Don't Play That Song (You Lied)/ Forgive. Mint value £15.
This one is equally obscure. It's a decent cover of the Ben E King song by a UK group produced by Don Charles of Joe Meek fame - but I haven't been able to find out much about the group. The B-side - a soulful number written by 'Edwards' - may relate to Wilfred 'Jackie' Edwards. But again, if anyone has any information, please leave a comment.


At 10:17 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

great line up; don't have any of them and have always wanted 'Rocket' by JB and the Sparkletones - I think it's even better than 'Black slacks'. 'deep feeling' is a great one too and I'm always on the look out for it in decent nick; it always seems to turn up in rough condition - likewise with 'baby sitting'.

I no nothing about the two black labels. Until I followed the youtube links I'd never even heard of them.

What's next - Columbia or Parlophone?
John S

At 3:47 pm , Blogger Nick said...

Yes it's hard to find some of these in decent nick as you say, and the black label 45s are obscure to say the least - there's very little info to be found via Google. I got the U.Ks single in a charity shop in Reading for 50p! Not sure what the next label will be - may have a go at Columbia or Parlophone now that I'm on an EMI kick.


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