Foolin’ Around: Gems From The Capitol UK Vaults 1960-1962

Artist: Various Artists
Format: 3CD
Bar-code: 5060259820496
Cat No: DAY3CD049


Capitol Records was formed in April 1942 in Los Angeles by record-shop owner Glenn Wallichs, songwriter Johnny Mercer and Buddy DeSylva, an executive producer at Paramount Records. Capitol was the first label to be based on the US West Coast and, with Mercer the talent scout and Wallichs running the financial side (DeSylva, nominally president, had little day-to-day involvement), they hit the ground running.


Their first recordings appeared in July 1942, and when two of their first half-dozen releases turned into hits they were in business. They launched on the stock exchange four years later and signed the likes of Nat ‘King’ Cole and Peggy Lee. In the Fifties, by which time DeSylva and Mercer had left, leaving Wallichs in full control, they picked up Dean Martin, Les Paul and, crucially, Frank Sinatra.

The famous circular Capitol Tower, built on Hollywood and Vine in 1955-56, fully reflected the status of the label it housed. But as soon as it was complete, Wallichs sold out to EMI for $8.5 million. Soon afterwards, a new studio was built to match EMI’s state-of-the-art Abbey Road Studios in London. New ownership would later give the label access to the Beatles, but the music we are concentrating on here is UK releases of American acts that flourished in the years immediately before the Fab Four’s breakthrough.


The opening duo of Buck Owens and Nat ‘King’ Cole came from very different backgrounds but were very much old-school Capitol. Owens, who was named the Most Promising Country and Western Singer of 1960 by Billboard, was based locally in Bakersfield, California, rather than Nashville. His Beatles connection came later when they covered his ‘Act Naturally’ in 1965, with Ringo Starr singing.


As previously mentioned, jazz giant Cole had been one of Capitol Records’ first signings, and revenue from his record sales had helped finance the label’s tower, which some called ‘The House that Nat Built’. ‘Let There Be Love’ and ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ were trademark early-Sixties hits. He died in 1965, aged just 45,but his transition from jazz pianist to much-loved singer ensured his legend would live on.


Vocal quartet the Four Preps were students at Hollywood High School and were signed after one of Capitol’s executives saw them at a local talent show in 1956. The Kingston Trio were hipper, and were in at the start of the folk boom with the three-million-selling single ‘Tom Dooley’.


Leather-clad Gene Vincent was one of the major rock names of the new decade. He won a recording contract with Capitol on the recommendation of Johnny Burnette, who sang his praises to the heavens. ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’, the opening track of CD2, was the first Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps single. It sold three million copies, opening the door to national fame, but in 1960, at the end of a British tour, the car crash that took the life of close friend Eddie Cochran further aggravated injuries sustained in a motorbike crash. Ironically it had been while convalescing from these that Gene had written his breakthrough song. He continued to perform for another decade.


The Beach Boys signed with Capitol after first release ‘Surfin’’/’Luau’ made Number 75 in midwinter 1961 on the tiny Candix label. By the summer of ‘62 the Wilson brothers were on the crest of a wave with their ‘Surfin’ Safari’. They made a career out of celebrating sun, surf and the opposite sex, and, despite the loss of original members Dennis and Carl Wilson, remain active half a century later. The Americans, of course, have the best and longest summers – especially in Capitol’s home state of California!


Glen Campbell was a session guitarist with strong connections with the Beach Boys, playing with them in the studio and, on one tour, standing in for Brian Wilson. In 1962, ‘Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry’ became his first single for the label. His first song to chart in the United States, hitting Number 62 on the Billboard Hot 100, had been ‘Turn Around, Look At Me’ on Crest Records. The Lettermen present their version here, while the young Bee Gees also covered it.


The previously mentioned Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra need no introduction, but would soon be on their way. After seven years with Capitol, Sinatra was chafing against the restrictions of a major label and was dissatisfied at ‘miserly’ royalty rates. The foundation of Reprise, using $200,000 of his own money, was officially announced in December 1960, and Martin was among the friends and associates who joined him on the new label.


The Capitol name still appears on records today. It is part of the Universal Music Group, with whom EMI merged in 2012, and the circular Capitol Tower remains its headquarters. Enjoy some of its memorable hits and highlights from half a century ago.

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CD 1

1. Foolin’ Around – Buck Owens
2. Ramblin’ Rose – Nat “King” Cole
3. If A Man Answers – Bobby Darin
4. She She Little Sheila – Gene Vincent
5. Surfin Safari – The Beach Boys
6. It’s Nice To Go Trav’ling – Frank Sinatra
7. Steps 1 And 2 – Jack Scott
8. My Foolish Heart – Nancy Wilson
9. More Money For You And Me-Medley – The Four Preps
10. Where Have All The Flowers Gone – The Kingston Trio
11. Sparklin’ Eyes – Dean Martin
12. Too Late To Worry, Too Blue To Cry – Glen Campbell
13. Sh-Boom – Stan Freberg
14. I’m A Woman – Peggy Lee
15. ‘Naked City’ Theme – Nelson Riddle
16. Hello Walls – Faron Young
17. Riders In The Sky – Kay Starr
18. Brontosaurus Stomp – The Piltdown Men
19. I’ll Remember April – Frank Sinatra
20. Mumblin’ Mosie – Johnny Otis Show
21. Because You’re Mine – Al Martino
22. Right Or Wrong – Wanda Jackson
23. Enormity In Motion – Simon Crum
24. Tender Is The Night – Vic Damone
25. Unchained Melody – Gene Vincent

CD 2

1. Be Bop A Lula – Gene Vincent
2. Turn Around, Look At Me – The Lettermen
3. Wheel Of Fortune – Kay Starr
4. Nice ‘N’ Easy – Frank Sinatra
5. Let’s Have A Party – Wanda Jackson
6. When Johnny Comes Slidin’ Home – The Hollywood Vines
7. What Kind Of Fool Am I? – Vic Damone
8. Love In A Goldfish Bowl – Tommy Sands
9. Is She All You Thought She’d Be? – Faron Young
10. It’s Love – Robin Clark
11. I Can’t Hold Your Letters (In My Arms) – Jack Scott
12. Bella, Bella, Bambina – Dean Martin
13. Let There Be Love – Nat “King” Cole
14. He’ll Have To Stay – Jeanne Black
15. Little Red Rockin’ Hood – Tennessee Ernie Ford
16. The Big Triangle – The Galaxies
17. Piltdown Rides Again – The Piltdown Men
18. Lucky Star – Gene Vincent
19. Everglades – The Kingston Trio
20. Turn The Page – The Twisters
21. Hidden Persuasion – Frank Sinatra
22. (If You Cry) True Love, True Love – The Derringers
23. Tell All The World About You – Peggy Lee
24. Excuse Me (I Think I’ve Got A Heartache) – Buck Owens
25. My Mother’s Eyes – Nellie Lutcher

CD 3

1. Here I Am – Glen Campbell
2. Linda Lee – Johnny Rose
3. Love Theme (From “From The Terrace”) – Elmer Bernstein
4. My Blue Heaven – Frank Sinatra
5. Pistol Packin’ Mama – Gene Vincent
6. My Dream Come True – Jack Scott
7. 409 – The Beach Boys
8. Arrivederci Roma – Nat “King” Cole
9. Cruisin’ – The Hollywood Vines
10. When I Fall In Love – The Lettermen
11. I’m A Lover, Not A Fighter – Dwayne Hickman
12. Sentimental Journey – Frank Sinatra
13. Above And Beyond – Buck Owens
14. Mean Mean Man – Wanda Jackson
15. I’ll Never Be Free – Kay Starr
16. Como Se Viene, Se Va – The Kingston Trio
17. Love Me, My Love – Dean Martin
18. Teach Me Tonight – The Four Freshmen
19. Route 66 Theme – Nelson Riddle
20. I’m Going Home (To See My Baby) – Gene Vincent
21. Hey! Look Me Over – Peggy Lee
22. Old Rugged Cross – Jo Stafford & Gordon MacRae
23. Wreck Of The Old ’97 – Tommy Collins
24. Goodnight, Mrs Flintstone – The Piltdown Men
25. Dear Lonely Hearts – Nat “King” Cole