Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Nearly all older turntables and phonographs have the common 33, 45, and 78 rpm speed settings, and millions of records exist in those formats.

But many also have a fourth option, one labeled 16 rpm.

Never in my life have I seen or heard of a 16 rpm record, which makes me very curious as to why the felt the need for the players to even bother with it.

Have you run into any 16 speed records?
—George Roman, Highland Park, Ill.

DEAR GEORGE: Quite a few, most of which were made specifically for radio station or promotional use.

Two noteworthy exceptions are standard commercial reissues of Prestige Jazz albums, released in 1958: Prestige 16-1 “Concorde,” by the Modern Jazz Quartet, and “Trombone By Three,” by Jay Jay Johnson, Kai Winding, and Bennie Green.

These albums — both originally issued at 33 and one-third about three years earlier — prominently state “16 rpm” on their covers and labels. However, the actual speed is 16 and two-thirds revolutions per minute.

Of special interest is the cover art on “Trombone By Three.”

For this edition, Prestige uses caricature art of the three trombonists, drawn by Andy Warhol.

As with Robert Crumb covers, which we covered thoroughly last year, having Warhol's artwork significantly increases album prices.

Copies of the original “Trombone By Three” (Prestige 7023), with a cover drawing by D. Martin, fetches about $100.

In a recent auction, the Warhol version sold for $898!

DEAR JERRY: A cute song with a somewhat believable premise came out in the 1960s, but I have been unable to unearth any information about it — even with infinite Internet sources available.

It's about a student working on his homework quite late the night before having to read it aloud the next morning in class.

To stay awake, he played the radio as he wrote.

The result is funny. He jumbles the names of real people and things with popular singers and songs.

Besides the usual record details, can you cite some of this student's mixups.
—Cody Falk, Spanaway, Wash.

DEAR CODY: With such a helpful description, there can be no mixup as to this song.

It is “Top 40, News, Weather and Sports” (MGM 12980), a hit in early 1961 by Mark Dinning. This gem came out about a year after his No. 1 hit, “Teen Angel.”

Our sleepy student's current affairs report covers the following tangled topics:

Patrice Lumumba doin' the rumba to the tune of the “Blue Tango.” (This line is omitted on second pressings.)
The Abominable Snowman hunters bringing in Fidel Castro.
President Ike up at the mike singing “Are You Lonesome Tonight.”
The U.N. is lost in a snow out west.
Nikita Kruscheve squealing “You Talk Too Much.”
Brenda Lee running track.
Pesident Kennedy giving a station break.
The guys down at Cape Canavral (Florida) shoveling snow, hollering “Let's Go.”
Mickey Mantle riding a camel through the rain down in Death Valley.
Mister Jawaharlal Nehru at the weather bureau giving the humidity.
Lolita hummin' “New Orleans” off key.
John D. Rockefeller singing a cappella, “Save The Last Dance for Me.”

DEAR JERRY: I am trying to track down an obscure recording of “Perfidia,” one issed a couple of years after the well-known version by the Ventures.

As you know, the Ventures are an instrumentals band. The one I want has words, some of which are in Spanish.

They sound like Jan & Dean, but the background music is similar to “Sherry,” by the 4 Seasons.

What do you know about this?
—Millie Norris, Tampa, Fla.

DEAR MILLIE: Let's take “Perfidia” from the beginning.

Written in 1940 by Alberto Dominguez (music and Spanish lyrics) and Milton Leeds (English lyrics), “Perfidia” became a Big Band favorite 20 years before the Ventures revived it.

By early '41, five famous orchestras waxed popular versions: Benny Goodman; Glenn Miller; Xavier Cugat; Jimmy Dorsey; and Gene Krupa.

The usual Big Band format applied, meaning about half the recording is instrumental and half vocal. The Ventures just eliminated the singing.

Which brings us to mid-'63 and a single by the Matadors (Colpix 698). This is the one you want.

Their “Perfidia” combines elements of all previous ones, along with some teen Top 40 techniques. Surprisingly, about 25% of the Matadors' lyrics are in Spanish.

Sprinkled with Jan & Dean-like doo-wops, it is very much in their distinctive style. That you thought it their recording is understandable.

For more about this connection, read on:

IZ ZAT SO? The Matadors, signed by Colpix in 1963, are Tony Minichiello, Vic Diaz, and Manuel Sanchez.

This is the trio heard on “Perfidia,” and all their other tracks — except “I Gotta Drive” (Colpix 718).

This one is by a different trio.

The featured “I Gotta Drive” vocalists are Jan Berry and Dean Torrence, and there is a brief narrative at the beginning by Jill Gibson, Jan's one-time girlfriend and songwriting partner.

Another piece of the Matadors-Jan & Dean connection is that Vic Diaz provides back-up vocals on several Jan & Dean tracks.

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