DEAR JERRY: As you know, Bernie Lowe was once the owner of Cameo-Parkway records. Soon I plan to marry Bernie's granddaughter, Joby.
Anyway, there is a song titled “You're the Greatest,” and I would love to find this and have it for our wedding song. It would also make for a nice tribute to Bernie.
Raymond Gendron (email@example.com)
DEAR RAYMOND: What load off my mind. I was wondering what to give you and Joby and now you've made it easy. I'll give you information.
“You're the Greatest,” a late 1957 issue that charted in early '58, is by Billy Scott.
You didn't say, but I assume you know that this is a Cameo (#121) release one of the great ballads issued during grandpa Bernie's reign.
I'd like to be able to refer you to an easily available CD, such as a lavish, multi-disc boxed set with a title along the lines of “The Cameo-Parkway Story,” but I cannot. The only way to get “You're the Greatest” is to find it on vinyl, either the original single or one of those compilation albums of Cameo-Parkway tracks. Two that come to mind are “Treasure Chest of Hits” (Swan 501), and “All the Hits with All the Stars, Vol. 4” (Wyncote 9082).
For the latest non-development on the Cameo-Parkway reissue issue, read on:
DEAR JERRY: Several years ago, your column provided some news about why the dozens and dozens of hits, and many great non-hits, on either Cameo or Parkway have never been issued on CD.
Since then, I have not seen any mention about this, and I do read you every week.
Likewise, I have yet to see any of those wonderful Philly tracks on CD. So it appears there is nothing new. Right?
Sandra Allman (Formerly of Philadelphia), York, Pa.
DEAR SANDRA: As they say, no news is … well, no news. We know no more now than five years ago when we wrote extensively about this topic.
Allen Klein, who has owned the Cameo-Parkway catalog since the late '60s, simply refuses to make his vault of music available on CD. Even more infuriating is that he offers no valid reason for holding them back.
A gentleman from your general area met with Charlie Gracie awhile back, and then sent us this informatory note:
“As you know, Cameo-Parkway's first big hit came with just their sixth single, Charlie Gracie's “Butterfly” (Cameo 105), which went all the way to No. 1 in 1957.
“Charlie Gracie is still performing at clubs and lounges in the Philadelphia area. Recently, I had a chance to meet him and we talked about the Cameo-Parkway reissue situation.
“He said that Allen Klein still refuses make CDs of his huge catalog of hits by Charlie Gracie, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Dee Dee Sharp, the Dovelles, the Tymes, the Applejacks, the Rays, and many others. He did reissue some tracks in the early '70s on his ABKCO (Allen B. Klein Co.) label, but those are on vinyl only.
“Gracie says he and others from the Cameo-Parkway stable have spoken to Klein about the situation, but no one seems to be able to get a straight answer. Klein reportedly has indicated to some that he is actually planning to make some CDs, but others say he has been saying this for a dozen years or so, and still there is nothing.
“Charlie knows that Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, and perhaps others have recently re-recorded some of their Cameo-Parkway hits for CD release. I guess they got tired of waiting for Klein to do something. However, Charlie does not feel he could ever duplicate the sound they got on those original Cameo records. I agree with him and it is best not to try.”
Arthur Donaldson, Parkersburg, Pa.
IZ ZAT SO? Here is yet one more interesting distinction claimed by Chubby Checker's “The Twist”: Of the 50 songs that remained on the Billboard charts the longest, only “The Twist” is from the 1960s.
There are but two “Honky Tonk” (Bill Doggett) and “Wonderful! Wonderful!” (Johnny Mathis) from the '50s, and three from the '70s “I Go Crazy” (Paul Davis), “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night)” (4 Seasons), and “We Are the Champions” (Queen).
All the rest came along in either the '80s or the '90s mostly the '90s.