DEAR JERRY: I have always been nuts about “Caribbean,” by Michael Torok. I bought it when it was a big hit, in the late '50s or early '60s.
Much to my surprise, another collector recently told me that the record I have is actually a reissue, and that the original release came out many years earlier.
This story shocked me and I desperately need to know if it is true. Please help!
Renaldo Amador, Madison, Wisc.
DEAR RENALDO: Questions about the bouncy “Caribbean” abound in the Badger state. David DuBord, of Mequon, also writes with questions about this hit tune.
Since you are nuts about “Caribbean,” let's get the singer's name right; it is Mitchell Torok, not Michael.
Your pal is correct. The release you have is a 1959 issue (Guyden 2018); however the original version came out in 1953 (Abbott 140).
That recording not only reached No. 1, but went on to be one of the biggest hits of '53, remaining on the charts for about six months.
As an obsessed collector as are all of us you may want to track down the Abbott single, but I'll bet you will still prefer the remake. It is more pop than the country-styled original.
Mitchell Torok is also remembered for his outstanding “Pledge of Love,” a Top 25 hit from 1957.
At the time, the only way to obtain any of their tracks was on the very expensive Rick Nelson boxed CD set, “An American Dream.” At around $200, I had to wait and hope for a more economical alternative.
My patience has finally paid off, and I want to share the news with you and your readers.
I found a 2003 CD issue that includes all of the songs by this trio, not just the few samples found on the Nelson boxed set.
It is titled “The Lost '60s Recordings” (Varese Sarabande 302 066 447 1).
Kip Waterford, Hartford, Conn.
DEAR KIP: Upon receiving your note, I ordered this CD, and I thank you for the Kip Tip.
Along with the 18 fascinating tracks we are treated to some very informative liner notes and session notes. This one is a must-have!
DEAR JERRY: Possibly 30 years ago, on a country music station, I heard a song that has haunted me ever since. But I only heard it once, and didn't catch who did it. After 30 years, I'm not even sure what the chorus really was, but it is something like: “I never had trouble finding a bored, lonely housewife, until I had to go looking for mine.”
I do recall it was a waltz, if that helps.
Mike Gregory, Banjo Picker-Banjo Maker, via e-mail
DEAR MIKE: Honestly, knowing it is a waltz is of no help. However, you have provided enough other details to bring this haunting case to closure.
The housewife in this situation may or may not be bored and lonely, but she is definitely unhappy about something.
Thus the exact title is “It Was Always So Easy (To Find an Unhappy Woman),” followed in the lyrics by “'til I started looking for mine.”
Your estimate of 30 years is very close. This is a 1974, Top 10 C&W hit (GRC 2036), by Moe Bandy.
IZ ZAT SO? From the background information provided with “The Lost '60s Recordings,” we now learn of the involvement in these secret sessions of Dave Burgess, of the Champs.
It is amazing that before 2001 even those of us in the industry had no knowledge of the famous musicians responsible for these tunes.