Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: My special area of interest is the 12-inch singles of the 1970s and '80s, mostly disco pressings.

Among my collection are two somewhat different versions of “The Sam & Dave Medley,” by Stars on 45.

One lists the Sam & Dave song titles in the wrong order, though I had to play both to know which one has it right and which is wrong. Both came out in 1985.

What I have yet to verify is the order in which they came out. Usually, mistakes are more likely on first issues with corrections made on subsequent pressings. Is that the case here?
—Artie Shindell, Waukesha, Wisc.

DEAR ARTIE: Take it from a writer. We always prefer to fix our first draft flubs before the finished work goes into general distribution.

It's the same with record labels, as you surmised, yet this one is an exception.

First issues correctly list “The Sam & Dave Medley:” “You Don't Know What You Mean to Me”; “Soul Sister (You're Brown Sugar)”; “Soul Man”; “Hold

On, I'm Coming”; “I Thank You” (21 Records 7-99636). This time the artist credit reads: “Stars On 45 Featuring Sam & Dave.”

Second pressings are where they jumbled things. Credit is changed to “Stars On 45 Featuring the New Sam & Dave Revue,” and the song sequence becomes: “You Don't Know What You Mean to Me”; “Soul Man”; “Hold On, I'm Coming”; “Soul Sister (You're Brown Sugar)”; “I Thank You.”

If the copies with the mixed-up titles were first pressings, with corrections made later, the first issues would likely be the more valuable. As it is, either version falls into the $5 to $10 range.

DEAR JERRY: I'm surprised no one has asked before about the mysterious adjective Pat Boone uses to describe a knife in the “Moody River” chorus.

Can you fill in the blank in “Moody River, more deadly than the (blank) knife”?

It almost sounds like “faintest knife.” If we can have or not have the faintest idea, why not a faintest knife?

Did Pat Boone write this song? If not, is his the original version?
—Josh Morgan, Lodi, Calif.

DEAR JOSH: Pat Boone made “Moody River” the nation's No. 1 song, in the summer of '61, but he neither wrote it nor waxed the original version.

Credit for both goes to writer Gary D. Bruce and singer Chase Webster.

At the time, not even those of us in the music and radio business knew these two names belonged to Gary Bruce, who preferred to record as Chase Webster.

His “Moody River” came out in March 1961, with Pat Boone's cover issued in April. Webster's original (Southern Sound 101) surely provided Dot's Billy Vaughn with all he needed to arrange the tune for Boone (Dot 16209). The tinkling piano, vocal backing and orchestration are nearly identical. Chase sounds younger than Pat, which could have been an advantage given the teener nature of the song.

With all this going for it, plus Chase's “Moody River” flowing before Pat's, the original did not chart. It might have stalled at first because Southern Sound was a virtually unknown label, then got wiped out by another excellent version, by an established star with a major label.

Exactly nine years later, summer of '70, a newly-recorded “Moody River” (Show Biz 233) became a minor hit in the C&W market for Chase Webster.

You are not the first to ask for that blank to be filled in, though it hasn't come up for many years.

It is “Moody River, more deadly than the vainest knife,” which seems to make no sense. People, and even places, may be vain, but objects? I haven't the faintest idea.

IZ ZAT SO? Having discovered Gary D. Bruce (a.k.a. Chase Webster) because of his “Moody River,” Dot Records offered him a songwriting-recording deal, and in September his first single for them (Dot 16270) came out, coupling “Sweethearts in Heaven” and “Could This Be Magic.”

Surprisingly, neither side is a Gary Bruce composition. Buck Owens wrote “Sweethearts in Heaven” and Richard Blandon's “Could This Be Magic” is the 1958 doo-wop classic by the Dubs, featuring Blandon.

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