Monday, June 28, 2010

The Arco Label

Until recently, I had only ever heard one record from the ARCO song-poem label, but it was such a winner, that I made Arco one of the labels I routinely search for. And I finally came up with a record by the same group of artists that made the initial record that I like so much. Making it more difficult is the fact that there have been at least two other labels called "Arco" over the years, both of them unrelated to the song-poem game.

There is little information about the Arco song-poem label at the Song-Poem archives website. Before the site was mothballed, the only information available had indicated that it was associated with the Globe family of labels, no doubt because of one Kris Arden record which had been found on Arco. My new find suggests another link, between Arco and the Sterling label and/or the Preview label, as the name of Lew Tobin, a significant name in both of those labels' histories, shows up on this disk.

First off, today, I'm featuring the record I recently bought, which features the clunky billing of "Joe Noto and His Diplomats with Phyllis Ruby and the Rea Sisters". While it's not quite as good as the first Arco record I heard (which is posted, below), "The Rock and Roll Beat" has a lot to offer, including some genuinely good musicianship - I love the three part harmonies - combined with some iffy lyrical choices, and an interesting match of words about Rock and Roll combined with an arrangement which (outside of the solo section) only seems to be marginally related to rock and roll.

The B-side is a fairly stereotypical 1950's rock-a-ballad, in which Phyllis Ruby is actually allowed to live up to her solo billing. The song-poem website has this song listed as "Be Here, My Heart", but it's actually titled "Believe My Heart":

And now, for a bonus. I've shied away from featuring songs on this blog that I don't actually own on the original records, but having brought up my reasons for wanting to own more Arco records, I thought I should share that first Arco record I heard. Because I don't own this record, I cannot share a JPG of the labels.

This was shared with me, along with many other song-poems from the most offbeat corners of the genre, to my eternal gratitude, by a huge song poem collector in New York, with whom I exchanged MP3's, many years ago. Thank you, again, Michael.

The song in question is "My Lover", again by Joe Noto and Phyllis Ruby. This is first-rate stuff, a great set of words, a creative arrangement for the vocal section, a wonderfully peculiar vocal, and a completely unexpected moment in the middle of the record.

The flip side of this record is another really fun one, "Mr. Dee-Di-Jay", by Nancy Jordan and the Blue Rockets.


Anonymous said...

That's not a 'Rock and Roll' beat - but I sure don't know what it is. Faux-Turkish?

Stu Shea said...

I think the first comment is onto something. It's a sort of exotic 40s arrangement, isn't it? With Andrews Sisters-style close harmonies. Fascinating, and not bad.

KL from NYC said...

The Rock & Roll Beat track was included on a comp of obscure 45s (from either The Netherlands or Germany). I would never have guessed that it's a song poem.

LoreNZo! (from NZ) said...

Great single! Both sides are hugely fun, & I can understand why you've had your eyes peeled for more singles on the Arco label.

Thanks so much for sharing - people like you are wonderfully generous & make me very happy! May the Gods of Vinyl Hunting bless you and keep your stylus forever sharp & pointy! :D

Anonymous said...

do you no the ARCO release number for the bonus tracks? I'm guessing it 46?? Thank you the DRunken Hobo