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Music Review: Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups Vol. 1

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Real Gone Music has undertaken an ambitious reissue program and the Cameo-Parkway label has been an important part of their ongoing agenda. Artists such as the Dovells, Orlons, Chubby Checker, and others have been resurrected from their 1950s and 1960s obscurity. Real Gone has now dug a little deeper into the label’s catalogue for their latest reissue.

Cameo Parkway Vocal Groups Volume 1 is comprised of many obscure tracks by some of the artists who recorded for the label during the late 1950s and early 1960s. While many of the artists had experienced chart success before signing with Cameo-Parkway, the material found here is mostly failed single releases that undeservedly faded away. Many have been unavailable for years (in some cases decades) and will be a treat for anyone interested in the era.

The Turbans were a R&B vocal group formed in 1953 and are best remembered for their only top 40 hit, “When You Dance.” By the time they reached Cameo-Parkway in 1960, their career was in decline. They re-recorded their best material and “When You Dance” and “Golden Rings” were released as singles. These rare modernized versions now return in a very clean form.

The Rays issued Silhouettes during 1957 and it became a big hit. Their follow-up release, “Triangle,” is included here. It sounds very similar to their big hit but sold virtually no copies and is a rarity. For any collector of the do-wop and vocal group era, this is a gem.

The Dovells may be the best remembered group on the album having produced such hits as “Bristol Stomp,” and “You Can’t Sit Down.” “Short On Bread” was recorded during the summer of 1963 and was a high-energy track with handclaps, backing vocals, and various honking instruments providing the foundation for Len Barry’s powerful vocal.

The Skyliners of “Since I Don’t Have You” fame were trying to recover from Jimmy Beaumont departing for a solo career when they recorded the traditional “Three Coins In The Fountain” and “Everyone But You” for the Cameo label. While they may not be the equal of their classic material, any song that contains the voice of Janet Vogel is worth a listen.

The 24 tracks combine the sort of well known, The Roommates, The Tymes, and Lee Andrews with the obscure and forgotten, The Lydells, The Defenders, The Anglos, and The Sequins.

The Cameo-Parkway label made an impact upon the American music industry for over a decade (1956-1967). They had dozens of hit records and signed many well-known artists to the label. They also took chances by issuing music that had little chance of huge commercial success during the crowded music world of the 1950s and 1960s. Some of those rarities have returned on this latest Real Gone release. Since this is Volume 1, one can only hope that more of the same will follow. Essential for anyone who appreciates the early rock ‘n’ roll era.

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