Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just Some ...

... plain, clean fun for a working day. Today with the hottest album from the sum- mer of '62, Dee Dee Sharp's It's Mashed Potato Time (Cameo LP # C 1018, mono issues only).

Dee Dee Sharp in May 1963
The Philly girl Dee Dee Sharp (real name Dione LaRue but »everybody called her "D" and she sang in D sharp«), aged 17, was called in the studio to add her vocals to Chubby Checker's »Slow Twistin'«. Chubby wasn't convinced at first and wouldn't have a female voice on his record. He was convinced after he had heard her, anyhow, and the song ended finally up as a true duet, with Dee Dee's vocals as prominent, or even more so, as those of her male counterpart. But among those convinced was also Kal Mann, founder of Cameo Records, who had brought Dee Dee into the studio in the first place (and had written »Slow Twistin'« under his pseudonym Jon Sheldon). Next Day, Dee Dee recorded her immortal hit »Mashed Potato Time«. Together with that song (#1 r&b in spring '62) went the usual album, released in May 1962.

Not the usual hit-plus-filler album, though. You have three chartbreakers on that LP - »Slow Twistin'«, »Mashed Potato Time« and »Gravy! (For My Mashed Potatoes)« - and besides that a number of other nice songs, and varied in style, too. Two ballads, »Two Loves« and »Remember You're Mine«; a number of cover versions (»Splish Splash«, »Be My Girl«, »I Sold My Heart To The Junkman«) and ... quite astonishingly, the jazzy remake of an old r&b smash, »Hurry On Down«, Nellie Lutcher's song from 1948 (released on Capitol # Cl 13013 in Dec. '48). The cover of my LP is the one shown here, with the Cameo-label in the upper right corner. However, there are many copies of that LP around that show the Camel-label in the lower left corner, whereas in the upper right corner we find a round sticker, in blue, saying »This album con- tains the hit song GRAVY«. Now, »Gravy« was one of those few tunes who got much radio play without being available on a single, that is, it got exposure from the LP version. Until the beginning of June »it received so much reaction that Cameo put it out as a single« (quoted from Billboard, June 2, 1962, p. 24). This leads me to think that the cover without the Gravy-sticker was the first, original edition, because an- nouncing the song on the cover only makes sense after it had unexpectedly stirred up some noise. So the cover shown above seems to be very first one.

And another thing: The label of Cameo 1018 shows, at the bottom, »© 1960 CAMEO Records« (see label scan). This is, at first sight, obviously wrong since we know for sure that the LP was released in May 1962. But we find the same indication on several other Cameo LPs and singles that were released in 1961 or 1962. The mystery behind this can be resolved easily: the date doesn't give the pro- duction or release date (which, in any case, should have been indicated by ℗, not ©). What it really does indicate is that the label design was introduced and copyrighted by Cameo in 1960. That's it. (Any of you sellers of this LP on the net offering it as a 1960 release, amend your info!)

So on to the songs, first the jazziest number on the LP, second the song that started Dee Dee's career. If anything, Dee Dee's version of »Hurry On Down« shows that her LP was not only a »teen item« as most critics of the day had it. And »Slow Twistin'« is simply a wonderfully groovin' duet, is all. However, the LP-version of that song is different from the previous 45-version (see Postscript). Shimmy!

Dee Dee Sharp (*with Chubby Checker): »Hurry On Down« / *»Slow Twistin'« from Cameo LP # C 1018 (1962):

POSTSCRIPT, some days later ...
Per chance, I discovered that among my CDs I actually have the re-issue of Dee Dee Sharp's LP from 2010, released on Ace / ABKCO (CDCHD 1295). It contains fine liner notes by Ed Osborne, providing information I couldn't find anywhere else. Thus, to complete this post, let me add the following here from Osborne's booklet: »Hurry On Down« was recorded between April 7 and 18, 1962, in Philadelphia's Cameo Parkway & Reco-Art Sound. »Slow Twistin'« was recorded during the same time, and this is precious information: The LP-version of that song is, therefore, not identical to the 45 version recorded originally on January 23 (I didn't check that). The instrumental track is different and the vocals were recorded anew; only the backing group, The Dreamlovers, remained the same.

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