Ask "Mr. Music"
Jerry Osborne

In syndication since 1986, and now in our 30th year — Over 3,000 questions answered
Most recent column here — 18 years of archived ones are linked below


FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 30, 2016

DEAR JERRY: I found your story and review of 1957 to 1960 EPs very interesting.

Did Billboard stop charting EPs in 1960 because the record companies stopped making them?

Were there EPs before 1957? If so, how did the charts deal with those?
—Charles Frodsham, Beloit, Kan.

DEAR CHARLES: First let's correct the widely told tale that RCA Victor introduced the extended play 45 format in 1952.

The first four-track EPs featured Vaughn Monroe and His Orchestra, and came out in the summer of 1950, with selection numbers in RCA Victor's 47-3800 series.

Many EPs, reflecting most mainstream genres, pre-date Billboard's Best Selling Pop EPs chart (debuted September 28, 1957), but none showed up on the national charts — that is until nearly six years after their birth.

But it was the popularity of nine Elvis songs on six different EPs during the previous year-and-a-half (April 1956 - September 1957), that generated the need for a separate EP chart.

Rather than listing those EPs by their title, the charts assigned a position to each qualifying track, thus treating each song like a run-of-the-mill single.

Here are the tunes that appeared on one or more of the music surveys (pre-EP chart), with its peak position, month and year, official EP title and selection number:

"Blue Suede Shoes" (No. 20), April 1956, "Elvis Presley" (RCA Victor EPA-747)
"Money Honey" (No. 76), May 1956, "Heartbreak Hotel" (RCA Victor EPA-821)
"Love Me" (No. 2), November 1956, "Elvis" (RCA Victor EPA-992)
"When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again" (No. 19), December 1957, "Elvis" (RCA Victor EPA-992)
"Paralyzed" (No. 59), November 1956, "Elvis" (RCA Victor EPA-992)
Three of the four tracks on this EP charted individually, and the one that didn't is "Rip It Up."
"Old Shep" (No. 47), December 1956, "Elvis, Volume II" (RCA Victor EPA-993)
"Poor Boy" (No. 24), December 1956, "Love Me Tender" (RCA Victor EPA-4006)
"(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley (For Me)" (No. 25) April 1957, "Peace in the Valley" (RCA Victor EPA-4054)
"Mean Woman Blues" (No. 14), September 21, 1957 "Loving You, Volume II" (RCA Victor EPA 2-1515)

All six of the above EPs were selling well enough a year or more later to rank among the Top 10 listed in last week's column, but as an EP with a title, the same as if it were an LP.

In the October 10, 1960 issue of Billboard, they bid farewell to the Top 10 EP chart. Instrumental in its demise was the 20 percent decline of EP sales over the past year, just as all other vinyl formats nearly doubled.

Even without a separate chart for EPs, most labels continued on a smaller scale to produce the traditional monaural 45rpm EP throughout the '60s.

To rekindle consumer interest in EPs, and provide product for stereo juke box operators, many of the 1960s extended plays were Compact 33 Stereo, with an LP-size spindle hole.

Without a national EP chart, the music trade publications mostly returned to charting individual tracks as if they were singles, as in 1956 and much of '57. The three exceptions are noted below with "EP" in the title.

Leading the pack again was RCA Victor, with six more hit EPs by Mr. E.P.:

"Flaming Star" (No. 14), April 1961, "Elvis By Request" (RCA Victor LPC-128)
"Follow That Dream" (No. 15), May 1962, "Follow That Dream" (RCA Victor EPA-4368)
"Kid Galahad EP" (No. 26), September 1962, "Kid Galahad" (RCA Victor EPA-4371)
"King of the Whole Wide World" (No. 30), September 1962, "Kid Galahad" (RCA Victor EPA-4368)
"Viva Las Vegas EP" (No. 92), July 1964, "Viva Las Vegas" (RCA Victor EPA-4371)
"Tickle Me EP" (No. 70), July 1965, "Tickle Me" (RCA Victor EPA-4383)

For anyone not named Elvis, charting with an EP in the 1960s was about as difficult as puttin' socks on a rooster.

Still, two of our favorite "B" groups managed to beat the odds and chart with EPs, albeit not nearly as high as their singles at the time:

"4-By the Beach Boys" (Picture sleeve title is "Four By the Beach Boys") (No. 57), October 1964, Beach Boys (Capitol R-5267)

Also charted are two tracks from this EP: "Wendy" (No. 44) and "Little Honda" (No. 65)

"Souvenir of Their Visit to America" (No. 130), March 1964, Beatles (Vee-Jay EP 1-903) "Souvenir, etc." title is only on cover. Other than "The Beatles," the record label is untitled.
"Four By the Beatles" (No. 86), May 1964, Beatles (Capitol EAP-1-2121)

IZ ZAT SO? What with "Blue Suede Shoes" being the first recording from an extended play single to hit the pop charts, it seems like the perfect time to review the many versions of Carl Perkins' signature song (Sun 234).

In just a few months in 1956, we know of at least 13 others:

Capitol 3373 - Bob Roubian with Cliffie Stone and His Orchestra
Columbia 21505 - Sid King & the Five Strings (The King Bros.)
Decca 29880 - Roy Hall
Dixie 502 - Thumper Jones (George Jones)
Dot 15456 - Jim Lowe with Orchestra Conducted by Norman Leyden
Gateway Parade of Hits 1162 - Delbert Barker and the Gateway All Stars
King 4903 - Boyd Bennett And His Rockets
MGM 12197 - Sam (The Man) Taylor And His Orchestra
Mercury 70805 - Jerry Mercer and His Orchestra
RCA Victor 6450 Pee Wee King and his Band (Vocal by Walter Hayes)
RCA Victor 6636 - Elvis Presley
Tops 280 - Hank Smith (George Jones) & the Nashville Playboys
Worthmore 185 - Buzz Williams

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