The music scene during the pre-Beatles era was inhabited by what were known as teen idols. Elvis was the king and Ricky Nelson was the crown prince. Singers such as Bobby Rydell, Fabian, Pat Boone, Tab Hunter, and of course Frankie Avalon, sold tens of millions of records and produced dozens of hits.
Frankie Avalon still tours consistently down to the present day. Many people, however, associate him with the series of Beach Party movies he made with Annette Funicello during the mid-1960s. This led him to sign a recording contract with the United Artists label for which he never had a hit.
Real Gone Music has now released his United Artists Label output under the title Muscle Beach Party: The United Artists Sessions. It brings back to life the material from a period of his career that has been unavailable for decades.
The centerpiece of the compilation is his album, Muscle Beach Party And Other Movie Songs. Annette had cashed in on the Beach Party Music with a hit album titled Annette's Beach Party. Frankie now recorded his versions of songs from the films. While the album was filled with orchestration, his went in a more stripped-down direction. His take on such beach classics as “Muscle Beach Party,” “Beach Party,” “Runnin’ Wild,” and “Surfer’s Holiday” were interpreted for the small lounge. The other movie songs fare less well as he tries to interpret such classics as “More,” “Days Of Wine And Roses,” “Moon River,” and “Again” and just can’t make them unique.
His series of stand-alone singles are also included. “Don’t Make Fun Of Me” was a nice mid-tempo ballad. “Here To Stay” was a nice slow track that was representative of the era. “New-Fangled Jingle-Jangle Swimming Suit From Paris” is antiquated by today’s standards, but it was a witty dig at Walt Disney not wanting Annette to wear a revealing bathing suit in any of the films.