Ed Chalpin (right) with Curtis Knight and an unknown lady…
The tunes I bring to you today are very likely not performed by the people credited with performing them, mosty because those people probably didn’t exist.
The tracks I bring you today, versions of the Who’s ‘I Can See For Miles’ and Billy Joe Royal’s ‘Hush’ (written by Joe South, natch, but a copy of BJR’s arrangement), credited to “Mike Landers”, and a cover of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s ‘Incense and Peppermints’ by “Bobby Sty” come to you from an exploit/budget album, so obscure, so ultimately disposable, that it doesn’t even turn up in Google or any of the major record databases.
I’m a sucker for albums like this, and though most of them are utter crap, lazily recorded/produced cash-ins meant to fool unsuspecting consumers back in the day, every once in a while you stumble upon something pretty cool.
What little I have been able to find out about these recordings exists only in the periphery, and steeped in circumstantial evidence.
Taking the material covered on the record ’12 Top Hits of Today’ (where the artists are listed on the back but not on the label), and the fact that some of the tracks were released in other countries on 45, my best guess is that this record came out in 1967.
The circumstantial evidence I mentioned earlier seems to tie these recordings to the exploitation factory of Ed Chalpin, who worked out of New York City and is also tied to the long string of recycled Curtis Knight/Jimi Hendrix bootlegs that have come out over the years.
That said, I would guess that ‘Mike Landers’ and ‘Bobby Sty’ are pseudonyms for whatever gang of longhairs that Chalpin gathered in the studio to churn out covers of other people’s hits.
The version of ‘I Can See For Miles’ is actually pretty cool in a garage 45 kind of way, as is the cover of ‘Hush’ (though in a more subdued way). Both of these tracks were released on 45 in South America under the ‘Mike Landers’ name.
The version of ‘Incense and Peppermints’, credited to ‘Bobby Sty’ is a tiny bit more inept, but also interesting in a way that would have landed it on a comp. That track, and another one of the covers from the same album (a version of the Sunshine Company’s ‘Back On the Street Again’ by ‘The Pendants’ found their way onto a 45 in Africa. That 45 bears the PPX Productions credit that ties the whole mess back into Ed Chalpin.
There were a lot of labels cranking out stuff like this in the 50s and 60s, often for the jukebox market (thus a grip of 45s on labels like Tops, Curio, Peak, Power, Diplomat, Guest Star , Spin-O-Rama etc), and the phenomenon continues today in iTunes with tons of soundalike versions (sometimes modern re-recordings by current versions of old groups) of songs showing up in their catalog.
Certainly the story/scene in the background is more interesting than the music, but sometimes it just bes that way.
I hope you dig the tracks, and I’ll see you next week.