Since 1956 was also a presidential election year, the Vee Jay staff decided to have a little fun. Enter
"The Convention" by The Delegates (Vee Jay #212):
Calvin Carter: (laughs.) "That was Dee Clark, Abner, and myself. This was the first time the
Democratic Convention came on television, and we were doing a spoof of that. The group on the record
was the Kool Gents, but we called them the Delegates. How the record sold I really don't know, but I do
know we got fantastic airplay on it. We had a full court press on that record. The song was written by
[jazz vocalist] Oscar Brown, Jr. He was from Chicago, and we were involved almost from high school, he
and Sid McCoy. Oscar was a very prolific writer. I had the first shot at all of his material, but I never liked
to sign someone I couldn't promote properly, and I didn't feel that we were in the right field to promote
his work the way it should be. When he first wrote 'The Convention,' he actually had another lyric to it. It
was a union lyric, the preservation society or something like that, I don't remember."
The year 1957 brought the usual two Jimmy Reed hits, another Spaniels hit, and "You Can Make it If
You Try," a
churchy-sounding tune by Gene Allison:
Calvin Carter: "We got Gene Allison from Nashville, from the Babb Brothers. The first master
we acquired from Babb, but I recorded everything after that."
For the first time, however, all of Vee Jay's chart hits also made the pop charts. This success prompted
Vee-Jay to enter the LP market. They had initially released an album that didn't have the Vee-Jay name
on it as VJLP-100, but the first "official" album was #101.
Betty Chiappetta:"They were a little late in getting into the album market. The first
album was a
Dixieland album by Dave Remington, and they assigned it number VJLP-101. That evidentially proved to
be confusing with their singles numbers, so they went back and started a 1000 series."
Calvin Carter: "When we put out the El Dorados album (VJLP-1001), there were a couple of
songs by the Magnificents on the album because we didn't have enough product. At that time, we were
using old 'B' sides of singles and things we didn't think were strong enough for singles on those albums.
We didn't have enough material by the El Dorados for an album, but the Magnificents didn't have
enough material for an album, either, so we put them together."
The Magnificents, pictured at left, late 1956: Top row (l to r): Johnny Keyes, Fred Rakestraw; Middle:
Barbara Arrington; bottom row: L.C. Cooke, Willie Myles. Cooke was Sam Cooke's brother, and writer of
Sam's first big pop hit, "You Send Me." Keyes and Cooke backed Bo Diddley on several of his hits, and
Keyes later wrote "Too Weak to Fight," which sold a million for Clarence Carter in 1970.
In addition to the El Dorados album, Vee Jay in 1957 issued the Spaniels' first album (VJLP-1002) and
"We Bring You Love" by Sarah McLawler and Richard Otto (VJLP/SR-1003). The latter was a significant
album from two points of view. First it was Vee Jay's first album venture into "pop" music, and second, it
was their first stereo album. Since stereo on disc was only invented and demonstrated in late 1957, it
showed a very innovative attitude on the part of Vee Jay to be recording in stereo this early.
Continued on Page
We would appreciate any additions or corrections to this story. Just send them to us via e-mail. Both Sides Now Publications is an
information web page. We are not a catalog, nor can we provide the records mentioned above. We have
no association with Vee-Jay Records, which is currently inactive. Should you be interested in acquiring
Vee-Jay products (which are all out of print), we suggest you see our Frequently Asked Questions page and Follow the
instructions found there. This story and discography are copyright 1981, 1993, 1997, 1999, 2006 by Mike
Callahan. All rights reserved.
Thanks to Robert Pruter and Robert L. Campbell.
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