05 March 2006
Golden gassers: an Aussie cheapo label
I found this record in amongst my bedraggled 45s. How it got there, I can't imagine. (Surely I didn't buy it? Nah, must be one of my brother's...)
This was a cover of Herman's Hermits' Mrs Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter (written by Trevor Peacock of Vicar of Dibley fame). The B-side was a version of The Seekers' hit A World Of Our Own, by The Jaybirds. This places GF-1025 in 1965.
It's one of a series sold in the 60s at service stations by Golden Fleece, the Australian petrol company later bought out by Caltex. John Maloney has also posted a shot of this one, and the B-side, along with three others from Golden Fleece, to the Odd Labels forum at Whirligig.
Welcome to the world of the cheapo label, companies that put out cut-price soundalike versions of current hits. There's a group at Yahoo! called Cheapo Labels: it's fairly inactive at the moment, but its home page usefully lists about 40 cheapo or budget labels.
One of the fascinations of the cheapos is the discovery of well-known artists recording under other names. The Hit Records Project, devoted to one of the better-known US cheapos, mentions Sandy Posey and Bobby Russell, both of whom recorded for Hit under a number of names.
There is also some interest in the cheapos from soul fans: see, for example, Soulful Kinda Music's discography for Herbert Hunter, aka Leroy Jones, who recorded for Hit, and Jeff Lemlich's post to Bomp about soul recordings on Hit and Spar.
Australia's Golden Fleece Top Hits singles were recycled from the Embassy label, recorded in Britain and sold there at Woolworths stores (see the follow-up post by Brian at the Odd Labels forum). British site 45rpm.org.uk has a label shot of an Embassy single by Johnny Worth, better known by his pseudonym Les Vandyke, who wrote for the likes of Adam Faith and Eden Kane, and also wrote, for example, Little Pattie's Australian hit Dance Puppet Dance. (See also The Flies - Doin' The Mod.)
Into the 70s, albums of soundalike tracks were issued, some of which famously included pseudonymous recordings by a young Elton John. His efforts have even been reissued, on the Chartbusters Go Pop! CD (see Richie Unterberger's review at All Music Guide).
Golden gasser? On Top 40 radio, that was an oldie, aka a blast from the past, a mouldy oldie. Golden Fleece, petrol, gas... Get it?