Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Missing Link?

Today's record is among the most intriguing and mysterious to me of any that I've recently posted.

Some of you will be aware of the career of Sandy Stanton, who I've rhapsodized about here, and more extensively, at WFMU. Many of his 1950's Fable releases are highlights of my collection.

After Fable made the trip from curious but often effective rockabilly into all manner of novelty records and then more solidly into the song-poem arena, Stanton has been said to have closed up shop at Fable, bought a Chamberlin, discovered Rodd Keith and started the Film City family of labels, with Rodd (as Rod Rogers) his star attraction on a wonderland of records and label designs often featuring a Chamberlin masquerading as some sort of band whose name would show up in quotes, often with "strings" being the last word of the band name.

Here's the curious part: All but a handful of Fable releases are known to have been released before the end of the 1950's, with label numbers under the four-digit mark, and Film City appears to have started up in the early 1960's. Although there is some overlap in time and billing style - AS/PMA lists four Fable records with higher numbers, all of which have the Stanton fake band names as part of the billing - I'd never heard any of them before getting this record.

And the differences between the two labels couldn't be more severe - Fable records generally feature real bands, often with a driving rock beat or solid country sound, and prominent guitars. Film City records are almost always one-man band productions, with not a single "real" instrument heard. I've always been amazed that the same person was between both records, and that he seemingly made the switch from one style to the other, virtually overnight.

Then comes this record, which features a modified Film City sound on the Fable imprint. It has a label number of 1250, a Fable Label design nothing like the one used in the '50's, a Stantonesque "Rockin' Strings" band name, and a singer name which turns up on no other song-poem that I'm aware of ("Bob Rogers"). It also features what sounds like an some sort of early keyboard instrument, but not like any Chamberlin record I've ever heard. The keyboard player's style certainly convinces me that it's Rodd Keith, but as to the singers.... well, the "Bob Rogers" on the first side might be Rodd Keith, but it only sort of sounds like him to me. I'm almost sure that the "Bob Rogers" on the second side is Frank Perry.

This record can't even come from the earliest days of Film City, nor right after the last batch of more typical Fable records. The ZIP code on the label demonstrates that it comes from at least 1963. The more sophisticated keyboard sound makes me suspect it's from at least a few years after that date, as well.

So did Stanton temporarily revive Fable, to release a few records, at least four years after largely shutting it down, and have Rodd Keith put together two songs (each by the same two writers), using a higher quality keyboard of some sort than the ones used on Film City records? And is that Rodd singing on the A-Side? I am curious to think what any of you reading this may think. Here is the A-side, "Rock and Roll Star".


And the somewhat odder b-side, "Rock and Roll Date":


Stu Shea said...

Certainly it's not Rod singing.

Darryl Bullock said...

That looks like a very late 60s/early 70s label to me - and almost identical to the Action 45s that were put out around that period. What's the matrix say, Bob?

To my ear that's the same vocalist on both sides and, as Stu says, definitely not Rodd.

Anonymous said...

Adding the third vote: not Rodd singing, but maybe it's him on the backing; as Darryl Bullock says, the label looks similar to the Action 45s, and off the top of my head, I think there's some Rodd related stuff from that period. One song that has been comped from then is "Don't Be A Dope". (and again, I agree, I would date this as early 70s).

Great find, Bob!!

reservatory said...

Perhaps an attempt to cash in on the star power of Rod Rogers like the cheapo Beetle Bug albums that appeared in neighborhood drug stores around 1964?