Cameo Parkway Holiday Hits
Real Gone Music, 2011
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/22/2011
The Cameo-Parkway label was a major force within the American music industry from 1956 to 1967. Located in Philadelphia, it issued hundreds of singles and albums, which sold tens of millions of copies. Its roster included such artists as Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, The Dovells, Dee Dee Sharp, ? & The Mysterians, Ronnie Dio and The Prophets, and a young Bob Seger.
If there was one thing the label was known for, it was the eclectic nature of its artist roster and the types of music it released. Rock, pop, doo-wop, big band & orchestra, rhythm & blues, bluegrass, and even some Latin marimba music all graced its catalogue of releases.
The new reissue label, Real Gone Music, has just reached into the old Cameo-Parkway archives to gather together 18 hits of the holiday season. Cameo Parkway Holiday Hits is an unusual but fun-filled ride through this or any Christmas season. The famous and the unknown combine for a different type of holiday celebration.
The best known tracks are the two by the combination of Bobby Rydell and Chubby Checker, who issued a number of duet-type songs together for the label. “Jingle Bell Rock,” issued during 1961, was a top 30 single for the duo. It was a rocking version of this often recorded holiday classic. “Jingle Bell Imitations” was a song that forces you to enjoy it despite its goofy nature of imitating such stars as Elvis, Fats Domino, Bobby Darin, and even The Chipmunks, among others.
There are several doo-wop classics included. The Cameos’ “Merry Christmas” and “New Year’s Eve,” plus the Jaynells “I’ll Stay Home (New Year’s Eve),” with piano work by future superstar Curtis Mayfield, represented the style of music well.
The odd is best represented by “White Christmas (3 O’Clock Weather Report)” by Bobby The Poet, who would go on to have a hit as Senator Bobby with the classic rock song, “Wild Thing.” Here he sings in a Bob Dylan drone as he makes fun of Simon & Garfunkel’s too serious “7 O’Clock News/Silent Night.”
“Auld Lang Syne” is given a unique bluegrass treatment by Bob Johnson And The Lonesome Travelers. Bob Seger and The Last Heard recorded for the label before he was famous. His “Sock It To Me Santa” is the track that rocks the most and was a good way to close the album.
It may not be music that is essential to the holiday season but its collection of the odd, weird, and in many cases excellent songs are guaranteed to bring a smile for many years to come.