Answer Discs first began to proliferate in the US during the early 1950s, initially in the Country market. At one point around the mid 50s, it seemed that virtually every major C&W hit record was inspiring a reply and, as some of these discs began selling heavily, a few even crossing over to the Pop charts, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before Rock & Roll, R&B and Pop followed suit. Sure enough, by the turn of the 60s everyone was at it - and soon, nobody was safe, even iconic figures like Elvis finding their records subjected to cheeky musical ripostes. This compilation takes twenty-eight of the biggest hits of the era and couples them with their Answer Disc (in a couple of cases, with two, entirely different ‘sequels’). Some of these records were hits, many were not; and in truth, several were clearly no more than cash-in, novelty items. But even with tongues wedged firmly in cheeks - e.g. Simon Crum’s preposterous ‘A Hillbilly’s Deck Of Cards’ - they certainly made for some enjoyable listening.
Among the earliest examples featured herein are a trio of late 50s crossover Country hits, Bobby Helms’ ‘Fraulein’ (#1 C&W; #36 Pop; 1957), Johnny Cash’s ‘Ballad Of A Teenage Queen’ (#1 C&W; #14 Pop; 1958) and Wink Martindale’s ‘Deck Of Cards’ (#11 C&W; #7 Pop; 1959). Of these, only Kitty Wells’ subservient ‘I’ll Always Be Your Fraulein’ provided a commercial successful response (#10 C&W), although during 1960, both Jim Reeves’ ‘He’ll Have To Go’ (#1 C&W; #2 Pop) and Hank Locklin’s ‘Please Help Me I’m Falling’ (#1 C&W; #8 Pop) inspired hugely-successful replies, by Jeanne Black (with ‘He’ll Have To Stay’, #6 C&W; #4 Pop) and Skeeter Davis (with ‘(I Can’t Help It) I’m Falling Too’, #2 C&W; #39 Pop). Meanwhile, mainstream Pop was getting in on the act. Songwriter Neil Sedaka had registered his breakthrough hit in 1959 with ‘Oh! Carol’ (#9 Pop), a song inspired by fellow Brill Building songwriter Carole King, who duly countered (unsuccessfully!) with ‘Oh Neil’. Also unsuccessful the following year were Bobbie Jean, with her accusatory response to Jack Scott’s maudlin ‘Burning Bridges’ (#3 Pop), Ferlin Husky’s hayseed alter-ego Simon Crum’s take on Johnny Tillotson’s ‘Poetry In Motion’ (#2 Pop), and Bertell Dache’s plaintive affirmation that he would love The Shirelles ‘Not Just Tomorrow, But Always’ (their ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ having recently made #2 R&B; #1 Pop), whilst Marilyn Michaels fared only marginally better (bubbling under at #110) with her tearstained sequel to Ray Peterson’s controversial ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’ (#7 Pop).
Conversely, towards the end of 1960, both Damita Jo(#22 Pop) and Thelma Carpenter (#55 Pop) enjoyed chart success with their cash-ins on a pair of simply mahoosive international hits, The Drifters’ ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’ (#1 R&B; #1 Pop) and Elvis Presley’s ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ (#1 Pop). The Drifters’ disc later span off an unlikely UK answer record, by the mighty Billy Fury, while Damita Jo would go on to enjoy an even bigger hit the following year with ‘I’ll Be There’ (#12 Pop), her reply to Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’ (#1 R&B; #4 Pop). Indeed, 1961 would prove to be quite a year for answer discs although, apart from Damita Jo, most would prove unsuccessful, with only The Bobbettes - who clearly considered Chris Kenner’s ‘I Like It Like That’ (#2 R&B; #2 Pop) to be something of an impidity - tickling the Top 100 (#72 Pop). Elsewhere, our title track, Frankie Lymon’s reply to Barry Mann’s heartfelt query ‘Who Put The Bomp?’ (#7 Pop), failed to do much business, a fate which also befell the various recorded responses to Bobby Vee’s ‘Take Good Care Of My Baby’ (#1 Pop - this one inspired two entirely different sequels), Elvis’ ‘Little Sister’ (#5 Pop - by all accounts, LaVern Baker’s ‘Hey Memphis’ was written as ‘Hey Elvis’, but the record company got cold feet!), Dion’s ‘Runaround Sue’ (#1 Pop), Brenda Lee’s ‘Fool No.1’ (#3 Pop) and Leroy Van Dyke’s ‘Walk On By’ (#1 C&W; #5 Pop).
Getting 1962 off to a lively start, Jimmy Dean’s ‘Cajun Queen’ (#16 C&W; #22 Pop) was somewhat unique in that it was actually Jim’s answer disc to his own monster hit of the previous year, ‘Big Bad John’ (#1 C&W; #1 Pop). Also commercially successful during 1962 were Jo Ann Campbell, whose ‘The Girl From Wolverton Mountain’ (#24 C&W; #38 Pop) proved a great sequel to Claude King’s ‘Wolverton Mountain’ (#1 C&W; #6 Pop); ditto Carla Thomas (#9 R&B; #41 Pop) in reply to Sam Cooke’s stirring ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ (#2 R&B; #13 Pop); and Florraine Darlin with ‘Long As The Rose Is Red’ (#62 Pop), on the back of Bobby Vinton’s ‘Roses Are Red’ (#1 Pop); whilst The Pearlettes just about edged into the Top 100 (#96 Pop) with their homage to Gene Chandler’s majestic ‘Duke Of Earl’ (#1 R&B; #1 Pop).
Unlucky that same year were the answer discs to Patsy Cline’s ‘She’s Got You’ (#1 C&W; #14 Pop), Elvis’ ‘Just Tell Her Jim Said Hello’ (which reached #55 Pop, as the B-side to ‘She’s Not You’) and The Four Seasons’ allconquering ‘Sherry’ (#1 Pop) - although the latter saw Tracey Dey’s ‘Jerry (I’m Your Sherry)’ enjoy regional success, notably in New York and on the West Coast, but sadly fail to chart nationally.
Groper Odson Big Thanks to Sandy Macdiarmid, Dave Penny, Lucky Parker and the Jimmy Dean late Tony Wilkinson.
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