DEAR JERRY: Why would any recording artist put out a record without their name anywhere on it?
We know some made records for a company other than the one they were under contract with, and used phony names. At least those credit someone, but what chance is there to get played or be a success when no name at all is used?
In my modest collection I have two such singles:
One is “Cupids' Corner” (Crookshank CR-9100), a very sweet soul ballad.
The other has only “Blue My Mind” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” on the label. No artist or label name is shown.
What do you know about these?
Earl Liston, Milwaukee
DEAR EARL: Even though an uncredited record has virtually no chance of being played on the radio, some have found an audience on juke boxes, where an unidentified performer can be less important than the music itself. When patrons dropped their coins to hear a tune, the juke operators paid no mind to who is or isn't credited.
One explanation for an uncredited recording is if a song contains lyrics that could be offensive or unacceptable to a wide audience (such as the many "coon" tunes of the early 1900s). This of course does not apply to post-1970s releases, especially the last 20 years, where seemingly anything goes.
Another reason for missing artist credits is that the label production department simply flubbed, and forgot to add it.
“Cupids' Corner” (sic) is probably by Michael Washington (a.k.a., “The Young Root”), who is also the writer of this strangely punctuated tune. (Does the corner belong to more than one cupid?)
Washington, is a high-voice singer in the Eddie Holman (“Hey There Lonely Girl”) and Donnie Elbert (“What Can I Do”) mold.
This record is a coveted soul rarity, and usually sells in the $150 range.
That “Blue My Mind” credits no one is anything but a mistake. They wanted to arouse curiosity.
Produced by Campus Media and MGM for dee jays at college radio stations, everything they wanted to reveal about this release is stated in this three-paragraph cover letter, shipped with the disc:
“Enclosed you will find “Blue My Mind,” the first 45 rpm record ever released exclusively to campus radio stations.
“The record is based on the music from Stanley Kubrick's extraordinary movie '2001: A Space Odyssey' and was produced by Campus Media in cooperation with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
“We encourage you to include this collector's item (only 100 copies have been cut and none are for sale) in your programming, and we would be interested in your reactions.
Campus Media Inc., Thomas H. Pierce, Advertising and Marketing Consultant.”
Being a groundbreaker of sorts, along with a short print run, makes this about a $25 item.
Hoping to learn more about this interesting record, I called the New York number on Campus Media's letterhead. Much to my surprise, what was once their number is now answered by Carnegie Hall, and they know nothing about Campus Media.
DEAR JERRY: As innovative as they were in some ways (inventing the LP), Columbia Records seemed, for many years, blind to the success of rock and roll.
How long was it before they had their first Top 10 rock hit?
Nancy Bell, Pasadena, Calif.
DEAR NANCY: Columbia did not reach the Top 10 with a rock release until March 1961, thanks to the teen-oriented “Baby Sittin' Boogie,” by Buzz Clifford.
Their first No. 1 rock hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man,” by the Byrds, came in June 1965, over 10 years after other labels started flooding the charts with rock hits.
IZ ZAT SO? There are a couple of signings in the 1950s that fly in the face of Columbia's specifically A&R chief Mitch Miller's preference for non-rock artists.
In a nod to the sweeping new trend, they signed Sid King and the Five Strings in 1955. Between then and 1957, Columbia released nine singles by King and his band, but did nothing to promote them. Ironically, 30 years later their anthology, “Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight” (Bear Family), became one of the best selling albums of all time by an uncharted rock artist.
Just before Columbia parted ways with Sid King, they signed 19-year-old Ronnie Self.
Five Self singles were issued, only one of which, “Bop-A-Lena” (Columbia 41101), made the pop charts. It did give Columbia their first hit of the R&R variety.
As a singer, Ronnie never again charted. He did, however, write several memorable hits for Brenda Lee: “Sweet Nothin's”; “I'm Sorry”; “Everybody Loves Me But You”; “Anybody But Me”; “Eventually”; and “Sweet Impossible You.”
Ronnie Self also had one four-track EP, “Ain't I'm a Dog” (Columbia B-2149), a 1957 release that can now sell for $600 to $800.