Operating out of Philadelphia, Cameo-Parkway was among the most successful independent record companies of the early 1960s, turning out a veritable production line of teen-friendly singles by artists such as Chubby Checker, the Orlons, the Dovells, Dee Dee Sharp and Bobby Rydell. This month sees the release on Ace of the latest batch of collections from the vaults of Cameo and sister logo Parkway in the shape of twofers from Dee Dee Sharp, the Dovells and self-appointed “Cool Ghoul” John Zacherle.
Gospel-trained Dee Dee Sharp had three years experience in the record biz by the time she made her first showing on the charts singing anonymously alongside Chubby Checker on ‘Slow Twistin’’ in 1962, having paid her dues providing background vocals on records by artists such as Freddy Cannon, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Lloyd Price and Fabian. Her first solo single, released when she was just 16, zoomed up the Hot 100 too, as did a clutch of others over the next couple of years. When the Beatles came along, the hits dried up for Dee Dee, but she was soon snapped up by Atlantic Records, only to find herself in competition with Aretha Franklin. Sometimes life just ain’t fair. Here on this paring of her first two long-players, you get three of her biggest charters, some original tunes from the Cameo song factory plus knockout versions of other hits of the day. To hear her wail Ted Taylor’s ‘Be Ever Wonderful’ is a joy to behold. The booklet contains an essay by Ed Osborne featuring some fun quotes from Dee Dee herself.
By Mick Patrick