The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

I’ll Have Popcorn With That: Eclectic New Compilation Offers Jerry Butler, Eartha Kitt, Johnny Nash, Frankie Laine

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Sweet n Salty PopcornWhat is Popcorn music?

Bob Stanley of the band St. Etienne and the new Croydon Municipal label wants to tell you.  “Popcorn is a genre after the fact, built by curation rather than creation,” the author of Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (soon to be retitled The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyonce for its upcoming U.S. edition) writes in the liner notes to his new release Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn.  “Its narrative was formed by Belgians in the seventies from records made in the fifties and sixties – there was no such thing as a Popcorn artist because no one had set out to make a Popcorn record in the first place.  It was all in the rhythm, which had to suit the unusual ‘slow swing’ dance, and it could be Latin boogaloo, an orchestrated Italian ballad or an early Tamla Motown single.”

Despite sharing that atmospheric, “slow swing,” soulful rhythm, the twenty tracks selected by Stanley to introduce Popcorn to an audience outside of Belgium make for a diverse lot.  Popcorn could emerge from crooners (Tony Martin), theatrical vixens (Eartha Kitt), early rock and rollers (Jo Ann Campbell, Larry Hall), and bona fide soul men (Jerry Butler, Roy Hamilton).  Popcorn songs could hail from the pens of writers Burt Bacharach and Hal’s brother Mack David (Dean Barlow’s “Third Window from the Right”), Phil Spector (Johnny Nash’s “Some of Your Lovin’,” not the Goffin and King tune of the same name), Curtis Mayfield (Butler’s “Find Another Girl”), Billy Sherrill (future evangelist Jackie Weaver’s “The Tingle”) and the team of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman (the offbeat “River in My Blood” sung by future “I Love New York” jingle writer Steve Karmen).  The earliest days of Motown even were incorporated into the Popcorn sound, as heard on Little Iva and Her Band’s recording of the “Continental Strut” co-written by Brian Holland.  In other words, the Popcorn genre is rather catholic; Stanley counts “gritty R&B…film themes, ska, tango, Spector-esque girl groups and loungey instrumentals” from the fifties and sixties among the tracks you might hear in a Popcorn club.

After the jump, we have more details on Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn as well as the complete track listing and order links!

With this release, however, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to hear a number of Popcorn rarities.  Many of the tracks on Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn have a dark, unusual and unexpected quality about them, perhaps in ironic contrast to the genre’s upbeat name.  Stanley serves as the DJ here, spinning a set of hip underground oldies ready for that sultry kinda-slow dance.  He recounts the genre’s history in three pages of informative liner notes, and also relates it to the still-thriving U.K. Northern Soul scene of which there is some musical overlap, especially in the urbane, orchestrated “uptown soul” arena.  No discographical annotation is include, although you’ll find two pages of original 45 scans.  All tracks on this anthology were recorded prior to 1963 –almost half of the CD dates to 1961, a very good year – and are in the U.K. public domain.  Pete Wiggs has remastered all 20 tracks at Needham Sound.

Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn is available now from Cherry Red’s new Croydon Municipal imprint, previously responsible for reissuing Dory Previn’s debut album The Leprechauns Are Upon Me (retitled My Heart is a Hunter) and curating the similarly-eclectic compilation Songs for a Central Park Picnic.   You can order this musically intriguing set at the links below!

Various Artists, Sweet ‘n’ Salty Popcorn (Croydon Municipal CD CR9003, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Jay Abbott – La Tanya (Bombay single 1313)
  2. Johnny Nash – Some of Your Lovin’ (ABC-Paramount single 45-10181, 1961)
  3. Jackie Weaver – The Tingle (Chess single 1797, 1961)
  4. Malcolm Dodds – Laugh My Heart (MGM single K 13025, 1961)
  5. Larry Hall – Rebel Heart (Strand single 25029, 1961)
  6. Frankie Laine – Kisses That Shake the World (Columbia single 4-41797, 1959)
  7. Billy Storm – Easy Chair (Columbia single 4-41431, 1959)
  8. Jo Ann Campbell – I Really, Really Love You (Gone single 5037, 1958)
  9. Craig Douglas – Oh What a Day (Top Rank (U.K.) single JAR 406, 1960)
  10. Roy Hamilton – To the One I Love (Epic single 5-9443, 1961)
  11. Helen Grayco – Lily’s Lament (Vik single 4X-0199, 1956)
  12. Donald and the Delighters – Elephant Walk (Cortland single C-109, 1963)
  13. Steve Karmen – River in My Blood (Mercury single 71301X 45, 1958)
  14. Little Iva – Continental Strut (Miracle single M2, 1961)
  15. Ronny Douglas – You’ll Come Back (Everest single 19425, 1961)
  16. Dean Barlow – Third Window from the Right (Lescay single LC 1089, 1962)
  17. Bobby Comstock – Just a Piece of Paper (Festival single 45-25000, 1961)
  18. Jerry Butler – Find Another Girl (Vee Jay single VJ 375, 1961)
  19. Eartha Kitt – Johnny with the Gentle Hands (Kapp LP KS 3692, 1960)
  20. Tony Martin – She Makes a Nice Cup of Tea (RCA single 47-7376, 1959)

Written by Joe Marchese

February 26, 2014 at 10:32

One Response

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  1. Looks interesting! I have Yeah Yeah Yeah teed up on the nightstand. Sure to be a great read.

    Jeremy Shatan

    February 26, 2014 at 13:26


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