Operating out of Philadelphia, Cameo-Parkway was among the most successful independent record companies of the early 1960s, turning out a veritable production line of teen-friendly singles by artists such as Chubby Checker, the Orlons, the Dovells, Dee Dee Sharp and Bobby Rydell. This month sees the release on Ace of the latest batch of collections from the vaults of Cameo and sister logo Parkway in the shape of twofers from Dee Dee Sharp, the Dovells and self-appointed “Cool Ghoul” John Zacherle.
In blue-eyed proto-soulster Len Barry, the Dovells had themselves another great singer. The Cameo-Parkway stable ruled the airwaves in dance crazy Philly – all over the USA, in fact. Between them Chubby Checker, the Orlons and Dee Dee Sharp had the market for Twist, Limbo, Mashed Potato, Bird, Watusi, Crossfire and Shimmy records all sewn up. The Dovells grabbed a piece of the action too with their first hit ‘The Bristol Stomp’, which shot to #2 in 1961, spawning further hit 45s such as ‘Do The New Continental’, ‘Hully Gully Baby’ and ‘The Jitterbug’. By the end of 1963 the quartet had racked up eight chart 45s, following which Barry quit for a solo career. Their debut LP, issued to cash-in on that initial hit, was recorded in a bit of a rush. No worries: here we get their second and third albums, both of which were assembled with a bit less urgency, and were all the better for it. Gene Sculatti supplied the notes for this package.
By Mick Patrick