Teen Scene: Gems From The Fontana Vaults 1958-1962

Artist: Various Artists
Format: 3CD
Bar-code: 5060259820182
Cat No: DAY3CD018

£7.99

The Fontana record label, originally a subsidiary of Dutch company Philips, was founded in 1958. With the advent of the British Invasion of 1964, Fontana records were distributed in the United States by Vertigo. Several Fontana acts in the mid- and late-Sixties achieved considerable success on both sides of the Atlantic, including Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, the Troggs and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Incidentally, Wayne Fontana (born Glyn Ellis) did not borrow his stage name from the record label as might be supposed but from DJ Fontana, Elvis Presley’s drummer.

The first few releases on the Fontana label, each with an H prefix and starting with H100, consisted of a mixture of tracks specially recorded for the label and ones recorded several years earlier. ‘Go! Go! Go!’ by the Treniers, for instance, was recorded as early as 1951 and its B-side ‘Get Out Of The Car’ (a cover of a Richard Berry song) in 1954.

The Treniers were fronted by identical twins Cliff and Claude Trenier and were pioneers who blended elements of swing, R&B and jump blues to produce a style clearly recognisable today as rock’n’roll. Their other tracks include ‘Rocking On Sunday Night’ and ‘It Rocks! It Rolls! It Swings!’ and, as early as the Forties, were already playing ‘Rockin’ Is Our Bizness’, a reworded version of Jimmie Lunceford’s ‘Rhythm Is Our Business’ from the Thirties.

It is always refreshing to hear the original version of a song made famous by another artist. This is especially true of ‘I Put A Spell On You’ written and originally recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1956. Nina Simone’s cover became the big hit, but Hawkins’ original has a rawness not found in Simone’s smooth version. Hawkins admitted that ‘everyone was drunk’ when they recorded the track and he later capitalised on its ‘demented’ sound by wearing a long cape on-stage and appeared rising out of a coffin in the midst of smoke and fog.

The recording of Barry Cryer singing Sheb Wooley’s ‘Purple People Eater’ is an oddity, to say the least. Nowadays, Barry is best known as a stand-up comedian and phenomenally successful writer, having written for just about every comedy act in the business. Back in 1958, however, he appeared in the satirical West End musical Expresso Bongo along with Millicent Martin and Susan Hampshire and made a recording of this novelty song. For contractual reasons, Wooley’s US chart-topping original  was never released in Scandinavia, but Cryer’s was, and reached Number 1 in Finland.

Interestingly Marty Robbins’ country hit of 1958, ‘She Was Only Seventeen (He Was One Year More)’ predates Sam Cooke’s better-known ‘Only Sixteen’ by one year. Perhaps the Robbins song was Cooke’s inspiration, as it features prominent doowop-style backing harmonies with Robbins’ clear voice floating effortlessly over them. Incidentally, an Al Saxon cover of Cooke’s song also appears on this compilation.

Duffy Power was one of a stable of British rock singers groomed for stardom by impresario Larry Parnes along with Billy Fury, Vince Eager, Marty Wilde and Georgie Fame. His cover of Bobby Darin’s ‘Dream Lover’ was released in 1959 and his version of Jerry Lee Lewis’ ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’ in 1961. He was also a noted session musician, playing on the soundtrack of iconic film The Italian Job. Power’s real name is the rather more prosaic Raymond Howard. After he departed the Parnes stable, he became a much-respected blues singer and was associated with legendary bluesman Alexis Korner, although Power’s career has since been dogged with health problems.

The Allisons were a singing duo comprising Bernard ‘Bob’ Day and John Alford. Although they were marketed as being brothers with the surname Allison, they were no relation. They represented the United Kingdom in the 1961 Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Are You Sure’. The song achieved a respectable second place and completed a hat-trick of United Kingdom runners-up, Pearl Carr & Teddy Johnson and Bryan Johnson having achieved the same place in the previous two years. The Allisons’ song went on to reach Number 2 in the UK charts. The duo had a couple of minor hits with ‘Words’ and ‘Lessons In Love’ but disbanded in 1963, although they reformed in the Nineties for nostalgia package tours.

American singer Tony Orlando has enjoyed a long career, most notably scoring three massive hits, ‘Candida’, ‘Knock Three Times’ and ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree’, with his group Dawn in the Seventies. However he started his recording career at the tender age of sixteen with the Goffin-King song ‘Halfway To Paradise’ and the Mann and Weil-penned ‘Bless You’, both of which are included here.

The Fontana label is still in existence today, but this compilation is a unique opportunity to hear some rare gems unearthed from its early years.

Sleeve notes by Brian Parks

SKU: DAY3CD018
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CD 1

1. Teen Scene – The Hunters
2. Halfway To Paradise – Tony Orlando
3. Jamie – Eddie Holland
4. Are You Sure? – The Allisons
5. El Paso – Marty Robbins
6. The White Rose Of Athens – Nana Mouskouri
7. Misty – Johnny Mathis
8. Rock A Bye Your Baby… – Aretha Franklin
9. This Old Heart – James Brown
10. Bless You – Tony Orlando
11. Baby Sittin’ Boogie – Buzz Clifford
12. Never On Sunday – Chaquito
13. Take Five – Dave Brubeck
14. I Put A Spell On You – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
15. You Threw A Dart – Ersel Hickey
16. (Seven Little Girls) Sitting In The… – The Lana Sisters
17. The Woman Who Loved A Swine – Old Timers…
18. You Can Have Her – Roy Hamilton
19. Cantina – The Tronics
20. The Story Of My Life – Marty Robbins
21. Little Pigeon – Sal Mineo
22. The Twelth of Never – Johnny Mathis
23. Go! Go! Go! – The Treniers
24. Only Sixteen – Al Saxon
25. Quarter To Four – Stomp The Stompers

CD 2

1. Please Mr. Postman – The Marvelettes
2. Summertime, Summertime – The Jamies
3. Big Iron – Marty Robbins
4. Three Little Fishes – Buzz Clifford
5. Tom Dooley – Rikki Price
6. Let’s Slip Away – Cleo Laine
7. A Certain Smile – Johnny Mathis
8. Wide, Wide World – Dave Sampson
9. I Want A Guy – The Marvelettes
10. Dream Lover – Duffy Power
11. Pledging My Love – Roy Hamilton
12. Words – The Allisons
13. Lost Love – HB Barnum
14. I’ll Never Have A Sweet… – Matt Monro
15. Golden Ear-rings – The Hunters
16. The Lady Is A Tramp – Buddy Greco
17. I Could Write A Book – Frank Sinatra
18. Buzzin’ – The Lana Sisters
19. What’s So…Goodbye – The Miracles
20. Stay – Little Joe & Her Thrillers
21. Careful Careful – Eileen Rodgers
22. Get Out Of The Car – The Treniers
23. Just Married – Marty Robbins
24. Teacher Teacher – Johnny Mathis
25. The Purple People Eater – Barry Cryer

CD3

1. Today I Sing The Blues – Aretha Franklin
2. Wonder When You’re Coming Home – James Brown
3. Gurney Slade – Max Harris
4. Twistin’ Postman – The Marvelettes
5. I’ll Step Down – Leo Diamond & The Cherokees
6. Dumplin’s – Doc Bagby
7. Seven Steps To LoveS – Sal Mineo
8. The Hanging Tree – Marty Robbins
9.My One Sin – The Four Coins
10. You’ll Answer to Me – Cleo Laine
11. You Are Beautiful – Johnny Mathis
12. If I Forget You – Frank Sinatra
13. The Storm – The Hunters
14. Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On – Duffy Power
15. Ring A My Phone – The Lana Sisters
16. Marshall Marshall – Gar Bacon
17. Crazy Feelin’ – Roy Hamilton
18. Baby Please Don’t Go – The Mose Allison Trio
19. I’ve Been Good To You – The Miracles
20. My Love for You – Johnny Mathis
21. She Was Only Seventeen – Marty Robbins
22. You’re The Top-Cha – Al Saxon
23. Treasure Of Your Love – Eileen Rodgers
24. Johnny Angel Patti Lynn
25. I Don’t Want To Set… – Somethin’ Smith