Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The Gall of a Song-Poem Label
If you're at all familiar with the world of song-poems and the people who made (and make) them, you know that it, and they, exist for little more than one reason - that being: to separate people from their money, often through barely legal methods, which often cross a line into a rather elaborate scam.
That's not to say that there weren't people in the business who chose to try and do something original, or which reflected the actual talent of the musicians involved (and, when it occured, the actual talent of the lyric writers). Certainly, men like Rodd Keith, Norm Burns and Lee Hudson, among many others, made it clear by many of their arrangements and performances that they were, at least at times, trying to do something decent, even good.
However, the underlying money-making remained the reason for the business, and a few labels, notably Preview, MSR and Halmark, were not opposed to using the same backing tracks, slightly altered (or not altered at all), for multiple releases. But today's example may be unique - I'm certainly unaware of any other song-poem 45 or EP which makes the scam quite as clear as this one does.
Imagine if you will, that you are the writer of the lyrics of Rodd Keith's release, "Playboy's Paradise", an indictment of a certain type of lifestyle. You receive the 100 or 200 copies of the record, as paid for and promised, and listen to the music that Preview records has built around your record, featuring the country stylings of Mr. Keith. It sounds like this:
You, the writer, are very happy with the product, play it for your family and everyone you know, and give out the copies you've received to your friends. The folks at Preview recorded a track, based on your lyrics and your request for a country setting, and made a unique record from your poem.
One day, you think, "Hey, I wonder what the song on the other side of the label sounds like". Flipping the 45 over, you see that it's called "Take Two Lips", and you plop it on the turntable. Being, by this point, quite familiar with "Playboy's Paradise", from the A side, you immediately notice that the "Take Two Lips" is set to THE EXACT SAME BACKING TRACK as your song.
I wonder how that would feel.....