Budget Long Plays and 45’s – Index
Following are the primary budget record companies
Synthetic Plastics Company Budget Record Labels
The Bihari Family Budget Record Labels
Pickwick Budget Record Labels
Premier Budget Record Labels
Masterseal Budget Record Labels
Mount Vernon Budget Record Labels
Sutton Budget Record Labels
Beasley Budget Record Labels
More Budget Record Labels
Brian McFadden Budget Records Books Review
This Blog Post is based upon my completion of reading the great new collector’s book, “Rare Rhythm and Blues On Budget LP’s” which just hit the book market in August, 2017 – Brian McFadden author. (His second book researching the world of Budget Long Plays).
Budget Long Plays on a Budget
“Rare Rhythm and Blues On Budget LPs” – like the first book – covers the entire Budget LP family of record companies and all of their associated labels including Crown Records, the Synthetic Plastics Company, Pickwick International, Premier Albums Inc., Masterseal, Sutton Enterprises, Mount Vernon Music, Hollywood Records, Halo, Strand, Almor, Waldorf-Music Hall and Wyncote.
While not an attempt to list an entire discography for these record labels, the book extracts many of the intriguing and – for my part – very enlightening and entertaining stories behind the musicians, the producers, composers and so many more who were involved in bringing – what turns out – to be some precious gems from the world of blues and rhythm and blues.
And just to think, so many of the these treasures were just sitting there right in front of me in those thousands of record store visits, thrift shop ventures, record shows attendances, department stores trip, flea markets and gosh knows how many garage sales!
I suppose I had always just assumed that these long plays were the doings of some faceless commercial concern, not in any way affiliated with true music. But just wait until you read about the industrious and imaginative Bihari family out of Los Angeles, the family behind the Crown budget group – a team of six siblings who were business oriented – but had great musical instincts – Who did their own recordings and founded the Modern, RPM first – labels which (I quote McFadden) “featured a who’s who of the blues and rhythm and blues world.”
And there’s the good old Synthetic Plastics Company – a company that formed in the 1920’s making plastic buttons! SPC was headquartered in New Jersey created by the brothers Daniel and Paul Kasen. What a story! From children’s records (think Peter Pan) to their Prom (then Promenade) label guided by Enoch Light and then onto the amazing SPC budget line (Guest Star, Diplomat).
So many great stories here so little time. Oh, and for you lovers of 45’s, please do not ignore this wonderful book (you will need to go back and obtain the first book as well). There are many little side trips relating to the sometimes obscure and the sometimes hit-bound 45’s that made their way into the budget long play stories presented here.
Well, you get the idea – so onto my Post today – but then tonight at day’s end back to my two McFadden’s to pour over the wonderful stories that for so long have remained hidden but were always sitting right there in plain sight – In the Bargain Bins! (and they were often only 99 cents!)
Brian McFadden in the 1960’s with Beach Boy Dennis Wilson
“One day I came across a song I liked on one of (Chuck) Berry’s albums and noticed it was written by a man named B.B. King. A short time later encountered the name again at a grocery store in Union, New Jersey. There was a rack at the checkout counter filled with 99 cent records, and one of them – an LP entitled “Blues Oldies and Goodies” – caught my eye.”
And so the journey into the rich and satisfying discoveries on budget LP’s began for Brian McFadden
The Story Behind the Covers
I love the McFadden research into the world of budget vinyl and all the little side tales which result. Following are just a few of them:
To Ray Charles or To Not Ray Charles
“We’ll solve many of those classic mysteries in this book, including the curious story of the “Ray Charles Recorded Live On Stage at the Palladium” LP that wasn’t recorded live, wasn’t recorded on stage and wasn’t recorded at the Palladium! However it did feature eight dynamic tracks by the great Muddy Waters sideman Mo Jo Buford, making it a real collector’s item.”
Fazzio’s Fuzzy Background…..
The cover designer “Fazzio” more than intrigues me – an artist who designed nearly 60 LP covers mostly for Crown Records:
“The Great John Lee Hooker” was released in 1963, during a period when an artist named Fazzio was creating many of Crown’s covers, Albums with his artwork, which appeared only until mid-1964, are prized for their unusual technique.
“Fazzio would base his covers on black and white promotional photos, touching them up in color and making plentiful use of airbrushing to give the covers the look of expensive oil paintings….
“The Fazzio covers were unique and we’ll come across them again as we continue to look at Crown’s R&B output. But it is well to remember that they’re the icing on the cake when it comes to the historic performances that this budget label saved for future generation.”
In the example below Fazzio worked from the cover photo which appeared on the Hopkins long play entitled “The Blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins” (Prestige Bluesville BV 1019).
Never the Tokens….
And one more fun mystery example – based on the appearance of a tune by ‘The Tokens” on the Guest Star LP entitled “Shake a Hand” (Guest Star 1904):
“Warwick (record label) was also the source for “Never Til Now” allegedly by ‘The Tokens’. The only minor problem is, this is not an R&B song and these are not ‘The Tokens’.
“When the real Tokens left Warwick Records, label chief Morty Craft, thinking he owned rights to the name, simply brought in another group of guys and called them ‘The Tokens’. A legal dispute followed and he was forced to change the name to “Johnny and the Tokens”, a distinction that was lost on budget record producers.”
McFadden further explains in his first budget LP book “Rock Rarities for a Song – Budget LPs that Saved the Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll”, that in short order, “Johnny and the Tokens name was changed to “Johnny & the Kings”. This was followed by the bankruptcy of Warwick records – but as McFadden sums up in his first book …..”somewhere along the line, whoever was looking for masters that could be leased, must have confused the groups. It was a lucky mistake, though, because otherwise the “Johnny and the Tokens” sides would have almost certainly been lost to collectors, and they really are excellent.”
From the 45 Catalog (“45 Cat”) a little info on “Johnny and the Tokens”:
“Lead singer is John Giuffre with backups by Jimmie Sims, Jerry Vance & John Truscelli. Warwick Records included the two songs in a compilation LP (see below Crown 366) with Neil Sedaka’s face on the cover. Recorded at Bell Sound Recording Studio in June 1961. John & Jimmie from Brooklyn wrote Taste of a Tear & Howard Epstein wrote Never Till Now. Johnny & The Tokens was changed to Johnny & the Kings due to not owning the name.”
And just to keep everybody hopping – a “Collectibles” CD was produced in 1995 entitled “Spotlite on Warwick Records, Volume 2” which contains “Never Til Now” by – oh boy – “Johnny and the Fashions” and a track called “Dearest One” which by gosh also showed up on a Warwick single in 1961 (Warwick 646) by “The Fashions” along with “All I Want” (see below).
There are so many of these stories packed into both books – all I can say is – get your hands on both of these fine publications – and then head out for the nearest used vinyl store! If you have any information for Brian on budget LP’s – their history – mysterious tales – you can contact him direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.