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Hollywood Maverick: The Gary S Paxton Story, CD (£11.50)
The more observant amongst you might have noticed that over the past couple of years Ace Records has had the good fortune to license the catalogue of one of rock’n’roll’s greatest – and strangest - people. Gary Sanford Paxton has no idea of his remarkable position within the pantheon of 1960s Hollywood record men. While the Spectors, Melchers and Ushers of the time receive regular kudos, Paxton remains a shadowier, almost enigmatic figure. But when considering the amazing discography of this multi-faceted producer, one must remember that he very likely either wrote, arranged, performed upon, sang upon, engineered, A&R’d or published any item that has his name on. In most cases it was a combination of several or all of these elements. There was no-one else in the American record industry like him. There still isn’t.
Best known for directing the novelty smashes Alley-Oop and Monster Mash, Paxton was already a veteran of the charts as half of the duo Skip & Flip. He set up in Hollywood in 1960 and, over the next five or so years, generated a remarkable catalogue that straddled not just novelty but R&B, doo wop, surf, hot rod, girl groups, jazz, garage rock, country and gospel – all bearing his idiosyncratic touch. HOLLYWOOD MAVERICK documents the oddball genius of Paxton’s glory years from 1958-1965, as he confounded a sceptical record industry by scoring major hits in the most unusual manner. It’s the yin to the yang of Ace’s recent anthology of Paxton’s one-time partner, Kim Fowley.
A large quota of tracks appear on CD for the first time, having previously only been available on tiny labels that the workaholic Paxton seemed to form every other week. Many, such the vocal group gems The Clock and Never Again, are heavy-duty rarities, while others are unknown classics waiting to be discovered. Rock’n’roll, R&B, instrumentals, crazy dance tunes and the plain bizarre all factor into the equation.