Ask "Mr. Music"
Jerry Osborne

In syndication since 1986, and now in our 31st year — Over 3,100 questions answered
Most recent column here — 19 years of archived ones are linked below


FOR THE WEEK OF APRIL 24, 2017

DEAR JERRY: Whether by Dion or the Cleftones, "Can't We Be Sweethearts" has always been "our song."

Also, our two favorite doo-wop groups are the Platters (when featuring Tony Williams) and the Harptones (when featuring Willie Winfield).

Imagine my surprise when I recently read that the Harptones recorded "Can't We Be Sweethearts," reportedly on the Gee label.

I'd love to have that record, but just can't find it. It's not even on YouTube.

We need it for our jukebox. How do we get it?
—Mitch and Darlene McHugh, St. Paul, Minn.

DEAR SWEETHEARTS: You can't, because the Harptones never recorded "Can't We Be Sweethearts."

In 1957, they made their only single for Gee, "Cry Like I Cried" coupled with "So Good, So Fine" (G-1045).

As you likely know, the Cleftones' 1956 hit, "Can't We Be Sweethearts" was also on Gee (G-1016).

The Gee label was a division of Roulette Records, founded in 1957 by George Goldner. Now you know who came up with a Gee label, "Golden Goodies" LPs, and all those "GG" prefixes.

For three years, beginning in 1963, Roulette issued at least 30 various artists compilation albums with titles such as "Golden Goodies"; "Golden Goodies of 1963"; "Instrumental Golden Goodies"; "Your Favorite Groups and Their Golden Goodies"; "20 Original Winners"; "Good Guy Jack Spector Presents 22 Original Winners"; "20 All Time No. 1 Hits"; and "20 Big Boss Favorites."

To promote these albums, Roulette/Gee issued promotional and commercial singles with music from the hundreds of tracks on the LPs.

One such single in 1964 is the magnificent "Cry Like I Cried," by the Harptones — yes, with Willie Winfield — backed with the Cleftones' "Can't We Be Sweethearts" (Gee GG-41).

About seven years later, the same single came out as Roulette (GG-41).

Coincidentally, that Roulette single is one I have on my 1962 Seeburg Select-O-Matic DS-160.

DEAR JERRY: While researching small Arizona labels, I found a tiny discrepancy in the Mascot discography.

It indicates they began in 1961 with #100, and numbered consecutively to #121 in 1968.

So far, so good, but their next release was not until 1973, and is also #121.

Is this just a typo? Shouldn't the 1973 release be #122?
—Danny Mendoza, Sierra Vista, Ariz.

DEAR DANNY: You would think. But the discography is correct, even if slightly incomplete.

Due to gross negligence by the layout or design department of the pressing plant used by Mascot, there are three different versions of #121.

Fortunately, no one knows more about Mascot Records than the current owner of the Mascot catalog, Dwayne Witten.

Dwayne, also an Arizonan, explains the mysterious Mascot 121, and its many complexities:

"My band, for which I was the drummer, was named George Washington Bridge, but also known as GWB. We recorded two sides for Mascot in 1967, 'Butterball' backed with 'Train Ride' (Mascot 120).

"Mascot's next planned release was #121, 'What Is the Reason,' by Motion, another Phoenix group.

"But instead of Motion, the labels for 'What Is the Reason,' and the B-side, 'One Afternoon,' both credit 'GWB.' This was in 1968.

"The printer must have used the label art from #120 as a template, correctly changing the Mascot selection number from 120 to 121, and both song titles with proper writing credits, but forgot to change the name of the group from GWB to Motion.

"When the shipment arrived from the pressing plant and the first box was opened, the mistake was immediately noticed and the entire inventory was returned to the plant — that is except for one copy I kept as a bizarre GWB souvenir. Since I have never heard of another copy of the misprint, I believe mine is the only one that survived.

"The plant printed new labels properly crediting Motion, with one peculiar difference. Instead of 'One Afternoon,' the new batch shows the B-side as 'Warm Afternoon.'"

Inexplicably, Mascot was not through using the selection number 121.

In 1973, Mascot 121 was assigned to 'Trying to Understand a Woman,' backed with "Can't Keep Foolin,'" by a Latin funk band named Pango.

IZ ZAT SO? Speaking of Pango, of the two dozen or so Mascot singles, theirs is the second most valuable.

Here are recent Mascot sales that we have verified (rounded off):

$2,000: The Spiders - "Why Don't You Love Me"/"Hitch Hike" 1965 (Mascot 112)
 (This is Alice Cooper's first record)
$150: Pango - "Trying to Understand a Woman"/"Can't Keep Foolin'" 1973 (Mascot 121)
 (Value is because the B-side is coveted by Northern Soul collectors)
$80: Frank Fafara - "Golden One"/"I'm So Sorry Now" 1961 (Mascot 102)
$50: Nick Landers - "Angel of Mine"/"You'll Never Wear a Halo" 1961 (Mascot 101)
$50: Roosevelt Nettles - "Mathilda"/"Drifting Heart" 1962 (Mascot 104)
$50: The Playthings - "Mrs. Brown You've Got a Lovely Daughter"/"Whirlaway" 1965 (Mascot 109)
$50: P-Nut Butter - "What Am I Doing Here With You"/"Still in Love With You Baby" 1966 (Mascot 114)
$40: Judy Lunn - "Once It Was Mine"/"Old Enough" 1961 (Mascot 100)
$40: Motion - "What Is the Reason"/"Warm Afternoon" 1968 (Mascot 121)

As for "What Is the Reason"/"One Afternoon" 1967 (Mascot 121) credited to GWB, there are no known sales or offers. If Dwayne's near-mint copy were on the auction block, I would expect it to move into the number two spot on this list — possibly realizing $200 to $400.

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