Monday, July 15, 2013

Ask Mr. Music by Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: In 1963, I bought a 45 titled "Dance, Romeo, Dance," by an unknown group called the Romeos. It is somewhat like the style of music the Drifters did at the time.

I heard it a few times on the radio that summer, and though it was soon gone, I still have my copy.

Backed with "A Lucky Guy," it is on the Vee-Jay label (VJ-494).

Flash forward 50 years, and I was scanning the Vee-Jay discography on, when I spotted release number 494 with the same two sides, but credited to the King-Pins.

Is this a mistake, or did Vee-Jay really change the name of the group? I know this can happen when somebody uses a name that someone else claims to own.
—Raymond Belker, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR RAYMOND: Global Dog is not mistaken, merely incomplete.

Vee-Jay did indeed issue the exact same recordings on both sides, using the same selection and identification numbers along with identical songwriting and production credits. Only the group name changed, not just twice but three times! They went from the King-Pins, to the Romeos, to the Winners.

Without any explanation to the media or the trades, Vee-Jay pressed this record three separate times, one right after the other, each time with a different group shown on the label.

The rarity and value factor matches that same order: King-Pins ($40), to the Romeos ($50), to the Winners ($65).

Not that another version was needed that year, but Alan Lorber, the arranger and conductor of the Vee-Jay 494 sessions, recorded an instrumental version (Kapp 523) of "Dance Romeo Dance" (without commas), creating a fourth possibility for those who want to "collect 'em all!"

A somewhat similar situation happened with "Memory Lane," first issued by the Stereos (1959), then by the Tams (1959), then again by the Tams (1963), and finally by the Hippies (1963) — and they're all the exact same recording.

DEAR JERRY: Last year, for the first time, I heard "Curtain Time" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, and I had to have it. I found it on the 1957 Columbia LP, "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A.," and for $50 it was mine. Is that a fair price?

The record shop manager said this was Brubeck's first album on the Billboard chart, which kind of surprised me since he started recording several years earlier.

How many albums did Dave and his group make before finally making the best-seller list?
—Bruce Welk, Salem, Ore.

DEAR BRUCE: You don't indicate the condition of "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A.," but if it is even close to near-mint you did not overpay.

The answer to your second question comes with some fine-print, so let's get that out of the way.

Not until March 1967 did Billboard publish a separate chart for jazz albums. Coincidentally, ranked at No. 20 on that debut list of the 20 "Best Selling Jazz LPs" is "Dave Brubeck's Greatest Hits."

In earlier years, including when "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A.," came out, jazz albums had to compete with ones by the top pop and rock performers, as well as the wildly popular original cast and soundtrack LPs.

Making the going even rougher for other formats is that the chart at that time listed the Top 15, plus four "Pop Albums Coming Up Strong." The latter list is similar to the Bubbling Under section for singles knocking at the door of the Hot 100, that began about two years later.

In the July 8, 1957 issue, "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A." was in the Coming Up Strong group rather than the Top 15, putting it somewhere between 16 and 19. The following week, the quartet — Dave Brubeck (piano); Paul Desmond (sax); Norman Bates (bass) Joe Morelllo (drums) — and "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A." simply disappeared.

Among the stars with a tight grip on the Top 15 that week are: Harry Belafonte; Pat Boone; Nat King Cole; Tennessee Ernie Ford; Elvis Presley; Tommy Sands; and Frank Sinatra. Joining them are albums of successful show tunes from "Around the World in 80 Days"; "My Fair Lady"; and "The King and I."

Before "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A." (Columbia 984), Dave and the gang had 21 LPs on Fantasy (1951-1957) and seven for Columbia (1954-1957).

Over the next 10 years, in addition to adding more specialty surveys, the total number of chart spots for LPs gradually increased to 200, providing a more level playing field.

IZ ZAT SO? "Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A." may not have gone platinum or gold, like "Time Out Featuring Take Five" and "Dave Brubeck's Greatest Hits," but its catchy title made enough of an impression to inspire three more LPs in the series: 1958: "Jazz Impressions of Eurasia" (Columbia 8058); 1964: "Jazz Impressions of Japan" (Columbia 9012); and 1965: "Jazz Impressions of New York" (Columbia 9075).

Again, another opportunity to to "collect 'em all!"

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 2013 Osborne Enterprises - Reprinted By Exclusive Permission  


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