Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ask. Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have a very mysterious record, and would like to know what you make of it, especially after you just wrote about two Beatles records with some of the print missing.

Unlike those, being misprinted only on one side, my weirdo record has no song title or artist credited on either side. It says it's an RCA Victor Record Prevue of Coming Attractions.

Where the credits would normally be, all it has is “Release 50-49 47-3990.”

Making identification even more difficult is that both sides are unfamiliar instrumentals.

It's probably not as collectible as a Beatles misprint, but it would be nice to know what it is.
—Lavern Dewey, York, Pa.

DEAR LAVERN: Shortly after RCA Victor introduced the music world to the 45 rpm single (February 1949), they kicked off the Record Prevue of Coming Attractions series, specifically to make dee jays aware of their latest singles.

For the first three years, they used the two-digit year and sequential number in the series. In 1949, the numbers began at 49-1 and continued until the end of the year (approximately 49-60). The same format applied through 1951.

This makes your record (50-49) the 49th Prevue disc of 1950.

Along with the Prevue “Release” number, the RCA selection, or catalog, number of the commercial single is shown on each promotional issue.

In your example, the selection number is 47-3990, the “47” being one of RCA's prefixes for 45 rpm singles. The 78 rpm of the same two songs is 20-3990 (“20” indicating a 78).

Even without much of the printing on the labels, knowing the selection number, and with an RCA discography handy, makes identifying the artist and titles a snap.

“Release 50-49” is by Larry Green and His Orchestra, and those mysterious instrumentals are “I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)” and “Western Melody.”

Assuming the lack of essential details — artist and titles — is due to a printing mistake may be the real mistake.

Casting doubt is the recent discovery of “Release 50-50,” the very next number in the series. It is blank in the exact same places as 50-49. It seems unlikely the same error would appear on two separate releases.

For the record, Prevue 50-50 is Piano Red's “The Wrong Yoyo” and “My Gal Jo,” with a regular RCA selection number of 50-0106 . Here, the “50” indicates a 45, and a 78 would be 22-0106.

The Record Prevues by these colorfully named folks, Green and Red, both issued in December, were the last ones of 1950.

Since using two sets of numbers ultimately led to confusion, RCA Record Prevues made after 1951 retained only selection number.

Record Prevues, and a later series of “Dealer Prevues,” are either singles (two songs by the same artist) or extended plays (more than two tracks, by two or more different artists).

Some of the value of the Prevues is due to their being made in comparatively small quantities, but most of their worth is based on what's in the grooves — the style of music and collectability of the artist.

The Larry Green orchestral platter, in an easy listening style, is about $25, whereas Piano Red's blues entry is $100.

DEAR JERRY: Over 10 years ago, you listed the 10 top C&W artists with the most Top 10 hits.

One thing I noticed was that Dolly Parton was the only female on the list.

How has that list changed since then?
—Arthur Gibson, Cleveland, Tenn.

DEAR ARTHUR: Not as much as you might think, though Dolly is no longer the only dolly in the boy's club.

Here are the current Top 10 makers, with their number of Top 10 hits now/then:

1. Eddy Arnold ( 92/92)
2. George Strait (85/64)
3. George Jones (78/78)
4. Conway Twitty (75/75)
5. Merle Haggard (71/71)
6. Reba McEntire (59/52)
7. Ernest Tubb (58/58)
8. Red Foley (56/56)
9. Dolly Parton (55/55)
10. Waylon Jennings (54/53)
10. Webb Pierce (54/54)

IZ ZAT SO? Except for the top two slots on the above list — where Eddy and George will most likely flip-flop — very few changes are expected during this decade. We will update it when we reach the 2020s.

As for No. 1 Billboard C&W hits, George Strait leads the pack with 44, four more than runner-up Conway Twitty.

In this category, there doesn't seem to be anyone with a chance to catch Strait, whose 45th No. 1 hit (“Love's Gonna Make It Alright”) may be just weeks away. It's No. 8 and rising as of this writing.

Jerry Osborne answers as many questions as possible through this column. Write Jerry at: Box 255, Port Townsend, WA 98368 E-mail:   Visit his Web site:

All values quoted in this column are for near-mint condition.

Copyright 2011 Osborne Enterprises- Reprinted By Exclusive Permission