Thursday, January 21, 2010

Daniel James

The ad stated something along the lines of: "30 78's rpm records for $20". So I responded to the ad. Unfortunately the 78's were gone. But the lady who answered the phone said she still had some of the "small ones," and some of the "big ones."
After driving around for a bit, looking for the address (which was wrong), I finally found it.
A little old lady answered the door. Her late husband had a bunch of records, mostly 50's and 60's country.
Sounded good to me. Among other things, I pulled out a second copy of Harry Weger's 45 on Adair.
2 copies of Mary Ann Williams, "I'm Getting Married" 45, and a Sonny Marcel (Sammy Marshall), Globe acetate/disk cutter, which can be viewed here: made of shellac. Sifting through the LPs; I found one by James O'Gwynn.
And then I saw an LP with the label Allstar. The Artist' name on the LP was Daniel James. Daniel James was the owner of the song-poem label Allstar. What's a song-poem?

by Phil Milstein

[The short answer]

"SONG-POEMS WANTED," blare small, noisy display ads buried in the human misery ghetto -- amid similar notices for
rupture trusses, depilatory devices and bust-enlargement creams -- at the back of pulpy, mass-market magazines.

It sounds intriguing, but you're not sure what to make of that cryptic lead-in phrase: song-poem. It's not found
in any dictionary. While it might seem to simply imply "poetry set to a tune," what "song-poem" actually refers
to is something more specific than that -- something, in fact, that has much more to do with commerce than it
does with songs, poetry or music.

The song-poem story involves a succession of publishing and recording companies that have occupied the lowest
rungs of the music industry ladder for over 100 years. By appropriating the rhetoric of the legitimate (so-called)
music industry, the owners of such companies prey on the dual yearnings among the general public for access to the
inner sanctum of show business and a means to get rich quick, as well as the fact that nearly everyone has written
some sort of poem at one point in their life or another. Song-poem entrepreneurs (called "song sharks") manipulate
these facets of human nature to deceive naïve individuals into subsidizing a quest to have their poem become the lyric
of a smash hit record. In the parlance of this parallel-universe enterprise, "song-poem" is code for the originating verse.
The reason that a code is resorted to bespeaks of the patronizing nature of the song-poem game: its proprietors believe that their typical customer
is too dumb to grasp the meaning of the simple English word "lyric." At the same time it's meant to signal an expanse of possible source materials, as in,
"We'll set your song, your poem, even your goddamn shopping list to music; we don't care what you give us, so long as your checks don't bounce."

Quite an underground phenomenon. The Allstar label started around 1953. Ended in '66. Daniel James' "Rock Moon Rock," on the Allstar label
has become a rockabilly classic. The biggest names to record
for the label were Eddie Noack (listen to his song "Psycho") and Link Davis.
I had not known that Allstar released LPs, Daniel James' two LPs seem
to be the only ones. There are some great un-reissued country boppers, mid-pacers, ballads; and even, perhaps, a rockabilly tune on this particular LP.
OK, done typing. Let the music do the talking. 3 tracks from Daniel James "Country Music by..." Allstar 501 (as it says on the record,)
or 1003 (as it says on the sleeve. Go figure!
Track 1 - So Many Lovely Things
Track 2 - Sweet Sixteen
Track 3 - You're Different

Some Videos of Interest:

Song-Poem Website:


  1. Based on three tracks you posted that album's way better than I ever thought it would be.

  2. Yeah, his other Allstar LP must not be very good or something. I think "You're Different," can hold a candle to "Rock Moon Rock."