War Paint: The Gone Records Story 1957-1962 (3CD SET)

Artist: Various Artists
Format: 3CD
Bar-code: 5060259820410
Cat No: DAY3CD041


Few backroom boys in rock’n’roll make a name for themselves – so George Goldner’s impact on popular music can be gauged by the fact that in 2012, some four decades after his death, he became the subject of a stage musical. The Boy From New York City told the story of a man who worked with and discovered many of the Fifties’ great rock’n’roll names. And Gone Records was one of the labels he founded.

In the enthusiastic words of the musical’s advertising spiel, ‘George was early rock’n’roll’s most influential entrepreneur, one of the best mambo dancers in New York, rock‘n’roll’s first producer and the man who invented the $100 handshake.’

Born in 1918 in the Big Apple –¬ where else? – Goldner was of Polish-Austrian descent, having this immigrant background in common with fellow movers and shakers Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun and the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil.

He was inspired to form his first label, Tico (named after the popular Latin tune ‘Tico Tico’) because of his liking for dance music and his love for a Puerto-Rican dancer called Reina. The venture was soon successful, so in 1953 Goldner formed another label, Rama, to exploit black dance music or ‘race’ music, as it was then known.

He realised that you had to have different record labels to maximise the chances of crucial radio airplay. He also understood DJs needed incentives – hence ‘the $100 handshake’.

His next label, Gee, discovered Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (Goldner produced ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love), but gambling debts obliged him to sell a 50 per cent share in all three of his labels to one Joe Kolsky. He sold the remaining half, plus his stake in Roulette, which he founded with Kolsky and Morris Levy, in 1957, but was keen to remain in the business. With the help of Richard Barrett, lead singer of Gee recording artists the Valentines, he formed two more labels, End and Gone. That’s where this compilation begins.

The names on the label vary from well-known acts who were on their way down the popularity ladder, like Bill Haley and his Comets (whose ‘Spanish Twist’ from 1961 was his label debut), to those going the other way like the Isley Brothers. Richard Barrett features fronting the Chantels, an early girl group he discovered who did most of their recording for the End label, while the Dubs were an accomplished R&B vocal group from Harlem who made pop Number 23 in late 1957 with ‘Could This Be Magic’.

The Four Seasons’ first release under that name, ‘Bermuda’/‘Spanish Lace’, appeared on Gone at the end of 1961 thanks to a lease deal with producer Bob Crewe. ‘Spanish Lace’ in particular was delivered in the doo-wop style that would shortly bring success on the Vee-Jay label. ‘It was a minor hit out of Philadelphia,’ Crewe recalled in later years, ‘but nothing was really happening beyond Philly.’

‘Baby Come Back’ was the first single from another American entertainment institution, Johnny Rivers. And, as with the Four Seasons, his name was invented for the purpose. Born John Henry Ramistella, he came to New York from Baton Rouge, Louisiana during a school vacation in 1957. He met rock’n’roll DJ Alan Freed and, through him, was introduced to George Goldner, whose office was in the famous Brill Building.

It was suggested Johnny came up with ‘something a little more musical’ as his stage name. ‘We were talking about where I grew up on the Mississippi River and somehow Rivers came out of that.’ ‘Baby Come Back’/‘Long, Long Walk’ was released in March 1958; both sides are featured here.

Ral Donner was the Gone label’s greatest success, courtesy of his 1961 hit ‘You Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Until You Lose It)’. This made Number 4, and 25 in the UK, following up on the popularity of Donner’s US Top 20 cover of Elvis Presley’s ‘The Girl Of My Best Friend’. This was so faithful that, when the King himself heard it on a car radio, he initially thought it was him!

New York vocal quintet the Bobbettes had shot to fame on Atlantic in 1957 with ‘Mr Lee’. Their star was on the wane by the time Goldner signed them and released ‘Teach Me Tonight’ and ‘I Don’t Like It Like That’, an answer song to Chris Kenner’s ‘I Like It Like That’. But the result is still superior girl-group fare.

George Goldner sold End and Gone to Roulette Records in the early Sixties, but his musical activities continued with Red Bird. This was a joint venture in 1964 with songwriter-producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, but failed to fulfil its immense promise. In 1970 Goldner formed his last label, Firebird Records, but died in April that year aged just 52.

The catchline of The Boy From New York City musical is ‘The mind of Einstein, the ears of a teenager’. While George Goldner was no Nobel Prize-winning scientist, he certainly made his mark on Fifties and Sixties pop.

CD 1

1. War Paint – Bill Haley & His Comets
2. You Don’t Know What You’ve Got – Ral Donner
3. Bermuda – Four Seasons
4. Baby Come Back – Johnny Rivers
5. Could This Be Magic – The Dubs
6. The Spider – Doc Bagby
7. I’ll Never Cry – The Earls
8. Come Softly To Me – Richard Barrett
9. Angel Face – The Neons
10. Mine – Jimmy Stone
11. Can I Come Over Tonight – The Velours
12. Everybody’s Gonna Rock And Roll – The Isley Brothers
13. I Love You (Sherry) – Enchantments
14. Beachcomber – Jo Ann Campbell
15. 07-Nov – The Gone All Stars
16. Pretty Little Girl – The Shells
17. All Danced Out – Darryl Jenson
18. Branded – Richie Robin
19. Ding Dong Darling – Carter Rays
20. Angel In Disguise – The Inspirations
21. Cool, Cool Baby – Connie & Lee
22. The Beggar Became A Kin – Johnny Jack
23. A Lover’s Plea – Mack Vickery
24. Please Don’t Go – Ral Donner
25. Never Let Him Go – The Carousels

CD 2

1. The Drag – The Isley Brothers
2. Spanish Lace – Four Seasons
3. Pancake Hop – Doc Bagby
4. Mama (Can I Go Out) – Jo Ann Campbell
5. Lamplight – Deltas
6. School Of Heartbreakers – Ral Donner
7. Such Lovin’ – The Dubs
8. Goin’ Back To St. Louis – Mack Vickery
9. My Love – The Isley Brothers
10. King Of Fools – Sam Hawkins
11. Stool Pigeon – The Inspirations
12. Spanish Twist – Bill Haley & His Comets
13. I’m Confessin’ – The Uniques
14. How Much I Love You – Joe Antel
15. Long, Long Walk – Johnny Rivers
16. Maybe You’ll Be Mine – Connie & Lee
17. Mama’s Boy – The Kokomos
18. I Don’t Like It Like That (Pt. 1) – The Bobbettes
19. Mona, My Love – Wild Bill & The Blue Denims
20. If You Want To – The Carousels
21. How Will It End – Johnny Carl
22. Chapel Of Dreams – The Dubs
23. Let’s Fall In Love – Tony Middleton & The Willows
24. That’s My Desire – The Channels
25. Summer’s Love – Richard Barrett & The Chantels

CD 3

1. You’re Free To Go – The Dubs
2. My Secret Love – Carter Rays
3. Girl Of My Best Friend – Ral Donner
4. I’m In Love With You – Darryl Jenson
5. My Kind Of Woman – Bill Haley & His Comets
6. Come On Home – The Enchantments
7. Girls! – Joe Antel
8. I Wanna Know – The Isley Brothers
9. I Ain’t Got No Steady Date – Jo Ann Campbell
10. Meant To Be – Mack Vickery
11. Dirty Tricks – The Carousels
12. School Bells – Nicky & The Nobels
13. Long, Black Automobile – Don Elliott
14. All Is Forgiven – Richard Barrett & The Chantels
15. Sippin’ Soda – The Shells
16. The Chase – Wild Bill & The Blue Denims
17. Stay As You Are – The Channels
18. Touch Me – Johnny Jack
19. Never Bite Off More Than You Can Chew – Andrew Taylor
20. The Dance Is Over – Bonnie Lane
21. Devil In Disguise – Stan Mitchell
22. My Foolish Heart – The Excels
23. I’m So Unhappy – Uniques
24. Riviera – Bill Haley & His Comets
25. Pretty Little Thing – The Carousels