Monday, June 21, 2010

The Olympics - "Western Movies" - Demon Records, 1958

"Western Movies" has been practically begging me to write about it, as I've come across three copies of it in one month: a 45 on Demon, a 45 on Mirwood, and a Mirwood album.  Great, great tune with a bit of humor and plenty of Soul.

Here's Wikipedia's Olympics blurb:
The Olympics were a doo-wop group formed in 1957 by lead singer Walter Ward (born August 28, 1940 in Jackson, Mississippi — died December 11, 2006 in Northridge, California). The group included Eddie Lewis (tenor, Ward's cousin), Charles Fizer (tenor), Walter Hammond (baritone) and Melvin King (bass) and except for Lewis were friends in a Los Angeles, California high school. Their first record was credited to Walter Ward and the Challengers ("I Can Tell" on Melatone).
After the name change, they recorded "Western Movies" (Demon Records) in the summer of 1958. Co-written by Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith, "Western Movies" made it to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song reflected the nation's preoccupation with western themed movies and television programs. It told the story of a man who lost his girl to TV westerns, and it included doo-wop harmonies as well as background gunshots and ricochet sound effects.
For a more nuanced look at the history of The Olympics, definitely check out Marv Goldberg's page here.
1966 Release on Mirwood
Mirwood LP 7003, "Something Old, Something New", 1967

While we're discussing them, here's another 45: "Good Lovin'" Released in 1965 by The Olympics on Loma and later covered by the Young Rascals!
The "Something Old, Something New" ablum released by Mirwood contains all the Olypics late 50's hits which were re-recorded for the purpose of the album. Note by this time, the line-up was slightly different as Fizer was shot and killed during the Watts Riots in 1965. This album was recently reissued on CD and is available at Amazon.  I highly recommend it, all of the cuts on the album are Solid!
CD here: Something Old Something New
MP3 Downloads here: Something Old, Something New
Finding info on Demon Records is proving difficult. It seems they were L.A. based and released a number of 45s from 1958 to 1960.  From Marv Goldberg's in-depth Olympics page, I was able to find this interesting nugget on Demon:
In 1958, their (The Olympics) idol, Jesse Belvin, introduced them to John Criner, who became their manager. (Criner, a former singer who recorded "Sugar Mama Blues" in 1946, owned the Shade and Spot labels.) He got them a contract with Si Aronson, Joe Greene, and George Brown's Demon label (which was distributed by Liberty Records). The A&R men at Demon, Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith, were also songwriters, who had written a little ditty called "Western Movies."
And now, the clip!

No comments:

Post a Comment