- Number of Discs: 4
- Released: May 17, 2005
- Originally Released: 2005
- Label: Abkco
Description by OLDIES.com:
If you want to find Cameo-Parkway, don't bother looking at a street map. Instead, time warp yourself back to the late 1950s and the '60s and take a peek at the record collection of any American teenager. There you'll see them, those dazzling, ultra cool logos adorning hundreds of hits by the likes of Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, the Orlons, the Tymes, the Dovells, Charlie Gracie and, of course, ? and the Mysterians.
Cameo-Parkway was the name collectively bestowed upon a pair of record labels that dominated the independent music market for several years during that golden era of pop music. For more than a decade, a constant stream of exciting hit singles and albums emanated from the Philadelphia-based company. Cameo and Parkway recordings were ubiquitous, and treasured, wherever the latest sounds were heard. The reign of Cameo-Parkway - which ultimately became the leading independent record company in America of its time - began in 1956 when Bernie Lowe, a talented musician and songwriter, launched Cameo Records. Bernie and his writing partner, Kal Mann, had already enjoyed some measure of success, having placed their tunes with Nat "King" Cole and others. Their composition "Teddy Bear" would later become a smash for Elvis Presley.
But Bernie wasn't content to work for others so he set out to make his mark as an entrepreneur. It didn't take long - one of the first releases on Cameo, "Butterfly," by the whiz-kid guitarist/singer Charlie Gracie, vaulted all the way to the top of the charts. After that, there was no stopping the Cameo-Parkway team. Lowe and Mann, along with the arranger, songwriter and bandleader/musician Dave Appell, unleashed a barrage of inventive recordings that clicked with teens over the next several years. With the invaluable promotional assistance of Dick Clark, whose Philadelphia-based American Bandstand TV dance program often booked local acts, Cameo and, before long, Parkway artists became national sensations. But it took Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker to truly put Cameo-Parkway on the music industry map. Both were ambitious South Philly kids looking for a break; they found their dreams realized when they hooked up with Lowe, Mann and Appell. Rydell was a multitalented musician who had started out as a drummer before putting his rich vocal skills to work for him. The squeaky-clean Rydell's string of hit singles - "Kissin' Time," "We Got Love," "Wild One," "Wildwood Days," "Swingin' School" and "Volare" among them - established him as one of the most beloved teen idols in the country.
Chubby Checker, meanwhile, had been a poultry shop employee with a knack for impersonations when he was called upon by Lowe and Mann to cut a musical Christmas card for Dick Clark. It was Clark's wife who gave young Ernie Evans his new name, and Clark himself who suggested that Bernie Lowe have the singer re-record an obscure dance tune called "The Twist." History was made when Chubby's recording of the song rose to number one in the nation on two different occasions, first in 1960 and then again in '62, sparking a cultural phenomenon that permanently rewrote the rules of dancing. Chubby continued to assault the charts with such Parkway hits as "Pony Time," "Let's Twist Again," "The Fly," "Limbo Rock" and "Slow Twistin'," the latter a duet with the lovely Dee Dee Sharp.
Dee Dee was Cameo-Parkway's most successful female solo artist. Only 16 at the time of her first recording, she quickly rose to national prominence when she placed two records in the top 5 simultaneously in 1962. First was the collaboration with Chubby; the second was the song that would forever be associated with her name, the good-time dance smash "Mashed Potato Time." Dee Dee visited the upper reaches of the charts three subsequent times in 1962-63 alone, with "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes),""Ride!" and "Do The Bird."
Cameo-Parkway was home to many fabulous singing groups, but three Philly based groups in particular have remained among the all-time favorites of oldies fans. The Orlons were the quartet that contributed such raucously rockin' hits as "The Wah Watusi," "South Street" and "Don't Hang Up" to the popular music lexicon. Their three wailing, soulful female voices, led by the dynamic Rosetta Hightower, were met by the deep throat of "frog-voiced" Steve Caldwell to create of the most distinctive vocal mixes around.
The Dovells were a dance floor monster. The quintet was responsible for such timeless, foot-flapping jukebox favorites as "Bristol Stomp," "Hully Gully Baby" and "You Can't Sit Down." Lead singer Len Barry took his inspiration from the great R&B shouters and together with the others in the group gave Cameo-Parkway a run of riotous showpiece releases.
Then there was the Tymes. The smooth ballad style of this quintet resulted in oneof the most fondly remembered classics of the era, the stunning "So Much In Love. "With its minimal instrumentation, authentic seashore sound effects and the silky lead vocal of George Williams, this 1963 chart-topper has remained one of the most oft-played songs on oldies radio stations for decades.
In addition to its stable of regular hitmakers, Cameo-Parkway was also the label behind a tremendous number of one-hit wonders and novelty tunes. The TV horror-show host John Zacherle, for example, frightened the heck out of the populace with his "Dinner With Drac," and the Rays' memorable doo-wop ballad "Silhouettes" was a Cameo side in the late '50s. Several years later, Candy and the Kisses' single "The 81" provided an "in" for the young producers/songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who would go on to revolutionize black music in the '70s. Cameo-Parkway was the first home to future giants like Patti Labelle, the Kinks and Bob Seger as well.
By 1964, Bernie Lowe had begun to tire of running a record company and sold the outfit. Cameo-Parkway shifted its operations away from Philadelphia at that point but continued to make its presence felt, most notably with the 1966 number one garage-band landmark "96 Tears," by the eye-poppingly hip Michigan-based group called ? and the Mysterians.
Remarkably, none of these recordings have been available in their original form for many years. But that is all about to end. ABKCO Records has mined the C-P vaults and painstakingly compiled a stunning, historical 4-CD collection that places back into circulation all of the original legendary - and never forgotten - Cameo-Parkway hits and dozens more. It would not be a stretch to say that this is one of the most eagerly awaited record label anthologies in a very long time. The Cameo-Parkway Story fills one of the most sizable gaps in many a collection and restores this innovative label to its rightful place.
Uncut - p.1223 stars out of 5
-- "Mindless teen pop, some of the era's very best....Early rockers and late flukes sit either side of the golden era....Fitfully fascinating."
Uncut - p.1093 stars out of 5
- "[T]he Philadelphia label colluded with American Bandstand, burning up the charts with assorted limbos, watusis and twists, along with street-corner R&B, faux Motown and novelty songs."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.1214 stars out of 5
-- "[The label] achieved massive success with acts that ranged from rockabilly singer Charlie Gracie and '50s teen idol, Bobby Rydell, to dance-craze doyen Chubby Checker..."
Song previews provided courtesy of iTunes
Personnel: Aldo Mauro (vocals, drums); The Velvettes (vocals); Marlena Davis (soprano, background vocals); Eddie Hinton (guitar, electric guitar); Dave Appell, Kenny Gamble (guitar, background vocals); Chip Taylor, Al Gorgoni, Vinnie Bell, Harry W. Polk, Pete Carroll, Joe Sgro, Bob DiNardo, Joe Renzetti , Steve Baron, Jimmy Page, Norman Harris, Roland Chambers, Roy Buchanan, Steve Gaines , Trade Martin, Bobby Eli (guitar); Billy LaPatta (ukulele); Dick Noble, Bob Schwartz, Kenny Dorn, Jack Faith (saxophone); Mike Pedicin (alto saxophone); Dan Dailey, Fred Nuzzullio (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, percussion, background vocals); Ed Etkins, Georgie Young & the Rockin 'Bocs, Buddy Savitt, Buddy Lucas (tenor saxophone); Artie Kaplan (baritone saxophone); Clark Terry, Robert Hartzell, Mike Natale, Wilmer Wise (trumpet); Larry Fogel, Richard Genovese (trombone); Clarence H. Watson (bass trombone); Roy Stragis (piano, celesta, organ, background vocals); Jimmy Wisner (piano, celesta, organ); Thom Bell (piano, harpsichord, background vocals); Fred Bender, Luther Randolph, Leon Huff (piano, organ); Bobby Martin (piano, vibraphone); Bill Shimmin (piano, background vocals); Rick Kellis, Ugene Dozier, Walter Gates, Dave Stephens , Leroy Glover, Johnny Pearson, Leroy Lovett, Richard Rome, Artie Butler, Bernie Lowe, Frank Owens (piano); Ron Feuer (organ); Nick d'Amico (vibraphone, percussion); Vince Montana (vibraphone); David Levin (drums, percussion); Karl Chambers, Pete Cozzi, Jimmy Cicchini, Earl Young, Joe Sher, Al Rogers, Jerry Gilgor, Ronny DiStefano, Chester Slim, Ellis Tollin, Jerry Kilgore, Bobby Durham , Bobby Gregg (drums); Billy Jackson, Billy Jackson (percussion, background vocals); Joseph Wissert (percussion); Victoria Jackson, George Hilliard, Dee Dee Sharp, Blanche Norton, Helen Hutchinson, Donald Banks, Catherine Nichols, Vivian Dix, Vivian McDougal, Charlotte Butler, Charlotte Walker, Vera Carey, Delores "Honey" Wylie, Willa Ward, Jeanne Grant, Rosalind Waters, Cliff Dunn, Audrey Brickley, Dinell Cook, Al Berry, Raun McKinnon, The Applejacks , Delphine Cook, Jeannie Thomas, Jean Thomas, Doris Gibson, Calvin Nichols, Norma Mendoza, Jim Meeley, Weldon McDougal III, Lucille Dunbar, Shirley Brickley, Leslie Miller, Ray Dunn, The Larks , Tommy Ricks, Cleveland Hammock, Norman Burnett, Morris Gardner, Nick Ashford, Ron Dante, The Dreamlovers, The Tymes , Toni Wine, Valerie Simpson, Hilda Harris, Joe Macho, Rosetta Hightower (background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Jeff Tamarkin.
Recording information: A & R Recording, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); A&R Studios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Allegro Sound Studios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Audio Recording Studio, Cleveland, OH (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Bell Sound Studios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Cameo Parkway Studio, Philadelphia, PA (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Capitol Recording Studios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Columbia Recording Studios, Nashville, TN (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Dick Charles Recording Service, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Harold B. Robinson's Broad Street Studio, Philadelphia, (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Ivan Ballin's Federal Street Studio, Philadelphia, PA (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Master Tones, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Mira Sound Studios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Olmstead Sound Studios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Paul Jameson's Studio, Tyler, TX (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Philadelphia, PA (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Pye Recording Studios, London, England (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Reco-Art Sound Recording, Philadelphia, PA (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Regent Sound STudios, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); RGM Sound, London, England (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Shields Recording Studio, Bay City, MI (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Stea-Phillips Recording Studio, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Talent Masters, New York, NY (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); United Sound Studios, Detroit, MI (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Universal Studios, Chicago, IL (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Virtue Recording Studio, Philadelphia, PA (12/30/1956-??/??/1967); Western Recorders, Hollywood, CA (12/30/1956-??/??/1967).
Arrangers: Chip Taylor; Al Gorgoni; Dave Appell; Mike Pedicin; Ray DAgostino; Jeep Holland; Tommy Kaye; Frank Slay; Joe Renzetti ; Doug Brown; Obie Massingill; Tommy Baker; Ugene Dozier; Bobby Martin ; Luther Randolph; Bob Mersey; Leroy Glover; Jimmy Wisner; Johnny Pate; Johnny Pearson; Richard Rome; Artie Butler; Tony Hatch; Trade Martin; Van McCoy; Thom Bell; Bert de Coteaux; Bob Seger; Roy Stragis; Buddy Killen; Charles Calello.
The 25-track CAMEO PARKWAY: THE GREATEST is the culmination of an extensive reissue campaign that took place over the course of 2005 and 2006 and reintroduced to the public almost the entirety of the Philadelphia label's sterling back catalog. While many of the individual artist reissues are essential in their own right, this single-disc overview of the label's biggest hits will suit the casual fan just fine. Among the early R&B and rock-&-roll classics included here are "The Twist" by Chubby Checkers, "Bristol Stomp" by the Dovells, Dee Dee Sharp's "Mashed Potato Time," and perhaps the most essential of all, ? & the Mysterians' seminal and long-out-of-print garage nugget "96 Tears."
Music Lovers' Ratings & Reviews:
Based on 65 ratings.
Write an online review to share your thoughts with other customers.
Music Lover: Frank Holmes
Huntsville, TX US
-- August, 5, 2005
This box set is a must for any collector and lover of rock and pop CDs. The brochure included with the CDs is interesting and enjoyable. I had not heard some of these songs in what seemed like a hundred years. And, before this box set, I couldn't find them. Sure, like all efforts of this size and scope, you can argue about things not included or songs that should have been left out. When I unwrapped the CD, I immediately put it in the player, and it brought an instant smile to my wife's face and mine. We just couldn't help but dance. Great fun!
Music Lover: T. Polston
-- June, 17, 2005
I read the review below, and promptly put on my 45 RPM version of Slow Twistin'. I will say this, the version that is on the CD may be the original, but it is not the version that is on my Cameo/Parkway 45 RPM. However, I can barely listen to my 45...so, there you have it! This collection is incredible, and the sound is awe-inspiring. The Bobby Rydell material and The Dovells material alone are worth twice what I paid for this collection.
This, as they say, is a no-brainer...an absolute must-have...you will thank me.
Not Original Version
Music Lover: David Fisher
N. Hollywood, CA
-- May, 31, 2005
I just A/B'd disc 2 of the set with the original 45s and found Slow Twistin' was not the original. The vinyl had a sax bridge in the middle and from then on it's completely different. For such a large and long anticipated project it is a little disappointing.
An Excellent Sound History!
Music Lover: J. Jackson
East Orange, New Jersey
-- May, 29, 2005
The Cameo-Parkway 4-cd box set is a true testimony to musical greatness! Every record collector (like myself) should have it! I have it!!! The sound quality is great. The reading pamphlet is great! The many different artists are simply incredible!
Ladies and gentlemen----this is history at its best!
----Dee Jay J.J., East Orange, NJ, USA.
Cameo Parkway 1957-1967
Music Lover: John Gardner
West Hartford, CT US
-- May, 25, 2005
C'mon you know you want this box set! It is totally awesome!
Just for the Chubby Checker original stuff (not the stereo re-records) it is worth it! Also the Bobby Rydell stuff in it's original form is fantastic...there are some real gems in this set like "Bad Motorcycle" by the Storey Sisters...Wanna hear Clint Eastwood sing?
"Rowdy" is also included in this box set...in short It's about time!
Some of this stuff has been missing for almost 35 years! A great
addition to any music collection! A+!
Cameo Parkway 1957-1967
Music Lover: Andrew Potoski
Pittsburgh, PA US
-- May, 19, 2005
Excellant mastering, however some songs missing.
I really love You (Dee Dee Sharp)
I'm Sorry Pillow (Lee Andrews)
Heart Darling Angel (Orlons)
Wildwood Days (Bobby Rydell)
Just A Few To name, there are others.
Overall very pleased.
- Sales Rank: 68,796
- UPC: 018771922322
- Shipping Weight: 0.40/lbs (approx)
- International Shipping: 2 items