Every Crown LP featured in this week of Crown twist records is worth owning and playing loud. The music ranges from terrific recycled singles from the early Bihari era to newer recordings produced for the twist era.
First up is a collection of early Etta James classics including her hit Roll With Me Henry, renamed The Wallflower as a single and renamed here as Twist With Me Henry. Though nothing here was recorded for the twist era this collection does have a connection through Roll With Me Henry which is an answer song to Work With Me Annie by Hank Ballard, the writer/performer of the first twist single The Twist. Obscure note: besides seeing the usual LP # scratched in the vinyl around the label is the code: “Re6x” which I can’t decipher. Any ideas?
Day 55. Up next is a Joe Houston twist LP with cover photo of Joe twisting with his sax. It’s one of several Bihari Houston LPs in my closet Crown collection & all are worth owning. Twisting In Orbit, however, is a bit different as it features raw guitar as well as Houston’s usual honky R&B sax.
Joe Houston, who appears in my documentary on Crown Records, was a favorite artist of Jules who recorded him as early as 1950 and as late as 1978. Unlike the Etta James LP, it sounds as if several cuts are newer recordings with Joe & the band actually trying to play twist music.
The definitive story on Joe Houston’s recordings for the Biharis is included in Jim Dawson’s excellent liner notes for the Ace Records reissue of Joe Houston’s recordings.
Day 56 presents a twist on the twist — a Duane Eddy knock off twist LP from Crown. But Steve Douglas is not just some obscure or fake sax player who copied Duane Eddy’s sound and stole the title of one of the master’s hits for the name of his band, the Rebel Rousers. Douglas actually played on recordings by Duane Eddy, the Beach Boys, the Routers and other 60’s bands as part of the Wrecking Crew back up band. Phil Spector played guitar in Douglas’ first band and went on to hire Douglas to back the Ronettes and other Spector groups. His bio is on file at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Check it out.
How his Crown LPs came to be is anyone’s guess at this point but both Douglas twist LPs are actual twist recordings. The recordings sound great, Douglas’ sax playing soars (never schmaltzy) & the guitar work is surfy or twangy throughout. This LP is mostly singing with Douglas attempting to create a new dance step, the Popeye.
The second Douglas twist LP is instrumental and a better listen for those more interested in guitar/sax rock n roll.
On Day 57 we asked which came first? The Atlantic or the Crown? The Atlantic of course. By 1962, the Biharis had long given up any creativity in their releases and here they boldly copy the 1961 Atlantic Ray Charles LP design and concept released the year before. Interesting to consider that even the Ray Charles LP is a fake twist record, the same as this Jimmy McCracklin release. Neither LP contains any new music; both are collections of previous singles & hits. The McCracklin twist Crown is a collection of some of his best singles from the Bihari catalogue and is worth owning.
On Day 58, a Friday, I posted Raunchy Twist with Steve Douglas. This is the more interesting of the two Douglas LPs if you prefer surf & twang over cornball lyrics. Here’s a very Duane Eddy sounding track, complete with tremolo, handclaps & background yelps. Note that this stereo Crown is recorded in authentic two track stereo (vs many fake reprocessed Bihari stereo LPs).
Saturday night’s ( day 59) twist post is another Joe Houston twister, this one featuring dance steps on the back. This same back was used on the Douglas LP above.
There’s a bit of Honky Tonk in White House Twist, take a listen:
Jimmy Beasley closes a week of Crown Twist LPs, another Bihari twist record in cover name only. Jimmy Beasley is a Fats Domino/Smiley Lewis soundalike and this LP is all New Orleans R&B; nothing remotely twist here despite the efforts of the creative forces at Crown to twistify two of the song titles: Slow Twist & Rhumba Twist.