A precursor of early handsome teen idols like Fabian, Tommy Sands and Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon enjoyed a run of US hits; reaching the UK Top Twenty Charts on three ocasions. His manufactured image was quickly exploited to include appearances in a series of BEACH PARTY movies that obviously appealed greatly to American audiences, with his career link-up with the singer/actress Annette Funicello all part of the process.
Memories of such late Fifties/early Sixties fame has continued to be mined with many Avalon collections available on CD. However, this two-disc collection neatly collects together the singer's first five albums, recorded for the Chancellor label with a total of fifty-six tracks on offer. With pop material mainly aimed towards teenagers, I was expecting a string of pop ballads and novelty numbers and his first album FRANKIE AVALON (released only in mono in 1958) runs true to form with Avalon's big hit DE DE DINAH heading SHORT FAT FANNY as well as covers of hits by others like Paul Anka's DIANA, Tab Hunter's YOUNG LOVE and Fats Domino's I'M WALKIN' but there's room for YOU'RE MY GIRL a lesser-known Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne number introduced in the Broadway musical HIGH BUTTON SHOES.
The remaining albums THE YOUNG FRANKIE AVALON (1959), SWINGIN' ON A RAINBOW (1959), THE HITMAKERS (1960) and SUMMER SCENE (1960) similarly diversify their choices with Avalon's somewhat tentative and limited vocal talent expanded beyond teenage angst ballads (I'LL WAIT FOR YOU, A BOY WITHOUT A GIRL) to include more adult material like TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS, DID YOU EVER SEE A DREAM WALKING?, TEACH ME TONIGHT, SECRET LOVE and OVER THE RAINBOW. Whilst enjoying his 1959 #1 US hits VENUS and WHY along with the other pop numbers, I have to admit a preference for these more mature choices, and no doubt on release, these albums sold beyond the constrictions of the juvenile music market because of their diversity. Avalon's swinging efforts on SUMMER SCENE are particularly impressive with the singer showing stylish vocal verve as well as winning personality on the title number, SWINGIN' DOWN THE LANE, IT'S ONLY A PAPER MOON and the other ten songs and above all the included albums, this is the one I will be playing most often in the future.
Apparently, Frankie is still well and performing in nostalgia shows, so this slice of Fifties/Sixties yearning will hopefully tweak a few memories with the thought that in the tradition of such teenage heart-throbs continues with Justin Beiber and Zak Ephron two modern examples. Great sound and informative notes (but no orchestral credits) make this a notable release.
on 22 February 2016
“The First 5 Albums” by Frankie Avalon, released by reputable reissue label Jasmine Records from UK in 2012, contains 2 CDs covering 5 complete albums. I have compiled a detailed song listing (including album & singles label & number, chart position, recording or debut date, plus personal comments)(BB200=Billboard Album Chart; BB Pop=Billboard Hot 100; BB R&B=Billboard Rhythm & Blues Chart; BB AC=Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart; CB Pop=Cash Box Singles Chart; RW Pop=Record World Singles Chart; UK=UK Singles Chart):
LP “FRANKIE AVALON” (Chancellor CHL 5001)(1958)*Mono only:
01 Ooh Look-a There Ain’t She Pretty
02 Short Fat Fanny
03 Young Love
04 Young and Beauiful
06 At The Hop
08 I’m Walking
09 Little Bitty Pretty One
10 De De Dinah (Chancellor C-1011)(a-side)(BB Pop 7/1958; BB R&B 8/1958; CB Pop 11/1958; RW Pop 13/1958)(December 1957)
11 The Stroll
12 My Mom
13 You’re My Girl
LP “THE YOUNG FRANKIE AVALON” (Chancellor CHL 5002)(1959)*Stereo:
14 Pretty Eyed Baby
15 Too Young To Love (Chancellor C-1)(uncharted a-side, July 1959)
17 I Can’t Begin To Tell You
18 Bella Del Mondo
19 Hallelujah I Love Her So
21 The One I Love
22 Teach Me Tonight
23 Shy Guy (Chancellor C-1006)(b-side, September 1957)*a-side “Teachers Pet”
24 Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
25 Hold Me
LP “SWINGIN’ ON A RAINBOW” (Chancellor CHLX 5004)(BB200 9/1959)’
01 Swingin’ On A Rainbow (Chancellor C-1045)(b-side, November 1959)(BB Pop 39/1959; CB Pop 87/1960; RW Pop 91/1959)*a-side “Why”
02 Secret Love
03 She’s Funny That Way
05 Trouble With Me Is You
06 Talk, Talk, Talk (Chancellor C-1048)(b-side, March 1960)*a-side “Don’t Throw Away All Those Teardrops”
07 You’re Just Too Much
08 What’s The Reason I’m Not Pleasin’ You
09 Try A Little Tenderness
10 Birds Of A Feather
11 Step In The Right Direction
12 Them There Eyes
LP “THE HITMAKERS” (Frankie Avalon & Fabian)(Chancellor CHL 5009)(1959)*Mono only; Fabian’s songs not included:
13 Why (Chancellor C-1045)(a-side)(BB Pop 1(1)/1959; BB R&B 6/1959; CB Pop 1(3)/1959; RW Pop 1(1)/1959; UK 20/1960)(November 1959)*his second biggest hit!
14 Bobby Socks To Stockings (Chancellor C-1036)(a-side)(BB Pop 8/1959; BB R&B 26/1959; CB Pop 7/1959; RW Pop 6/1959)(May 1959)
15 I’ll Wait For You (Chancellor C-1026)(a-side)(BB Pop 15/1958; CB Pop 25/1958; RW Pop 23/1958)(September 1958)
16 Just Ask Your Heart (Chancellor C-1040)(a-side)(BB Pop 7/1959; CB Pop 10/1959; RW Pop 11/1959)(August 1959)
17 A Boy Without Girl (Chancellor C-1036)(b-side, May 1959)(BB Pop 10/1959; CB Pop 17/1959; RW Pop 14/1959)
18 Venus (Chancellor C-1031)(a-side)(BB Pop 1(5)/1959; BB R&B 10/1959; CB Pop 1(5)/1959; RW Pop 1(4)/1959; UK 16/1959)(January 1959)*his biggest hit!
LP “SUMMER SCENE” (Chancellor CHL 5011)(1960):
19 Summer Scene
20 Did You Ever See A Dream Walking
21 If I Had You
22 Swingin’ Down The Lane
23 On The Sunny Side Of The Street
24 It’s Only A Paper Moon
25 June Night
26 For Me And My Gal
27 If You Were The Only Girl In The World
28 For Sentimental Reasons
20 Over The Rainbow
30 Love Letters In The Sand
31 The Things We Did Las Summer
1 At the time of release in 2012, these 5 albums, found in one single set, were making their CD debut. In 2015, this set was surpassed by “Six Classic Albums Plus Singles” (Real Gone Music, 4CDs, 2015).
2 The sound is very well remastered, as per usual high standards at Jasmine Records. Two albums were in stereo.
3 There is a 6-page booklet with a short essay. Chart positions were provided only for Billboard Hot 100.
1 As per usual practice with most reissue label from UK, because of local Public Domain laws, the compilation would stop in 1962.
Although I personally have purchased this set, with the release of “Six Classic Albums Plus Singles” box set (1 extra album “Italiano” plus many singles from 1954 – 1962), I cannot honestly highly recommend this set. Therefore, if you are looking a one single set covering all his important singles and 6 albums, “Six Classic Albums Plus Singles” (Real Gone Music, 4CDs, 2015) is better than this current set, and is highly recommended. My review on the Real Gone Music set is found elsewhere.
on 18 August 2012
5 albums at this price is considerably less than when they came out on vinyl where in pre decimal days they would have cost nearly £10.
The U K hardly needed Frankie Avalon as his 4 chart entries were 2 top 20s,1 top 30 and 1 top 40.His 2 U S chart toppers Why and Venus came at a time when Cliff Richard was bottom of the bill on a package tour of the States which Avalon topped though Living Doll made the top 30.
Unlike his label mate Fabian he had quite an anonymous voice which had begun with the song De De Dinah where he sounded like Jerry Lewis.Possibly his best single from this time was You Excite Me which is not included here.Its perfectly understandable how he had little impact in the U K because Cliff Richard was vastly superior
Avalon had the power of annoying rock critics of the future who would single him and Fabian out as the worst of the pre Beatles years yet his career extended into the Mersybeat years as he reinvented himself as a surfer
Me-I love high school pop yet would place Avalon well down the list
on 9 January 2014
Mr Avalon could teach a few of todays TV talent shows a thing or two, he recoded simple pop with an okay voice, no screaming and shouting out of his vocal range, his voice just broken he was well managed and worked at his career, as he continues to do so.
All the ongs on this set represent Frankie Avalon at the very pinnacle of his career, hits and B sides and album tracks, if you like pre Beatles cute pop then this is for you.