The story of the label Pye International is an interesting one. In the late fifties, most of the musical shots were being called by the United States, with Britain struggling to keep up. The home-made skiffle music was never to be as glamorous as the American sounds imported by specialist labels like London American and Pye International.
The Pye label had begun when the Cambridge-based company of that name, manufacturers of radios and televisions, bought Nixa Records in 1953. Two years later, they acquired Polygon Records, established by Petula Clark’s father to distribute the child star’s recordings (I still have her Polygon box set).
In 1958, another subsidiary, Pye International, was formed to license recordings from American and other foreign labels for release in UK. It was Pye International, which licensed materials from labels such as Chess, A&M, Kama Sutra, Colpix, Warner Bros, Buddah, 20th Century, King and Vanguard, that established a ‘collectable’ reputation.
Unlike my previously reviewed The Top Rank Story elsewhere, with inclusion of home-grown artists from UK, this 2 CD set consists of a treasure trove of US pop, with variety at its heart. There are many pop classics.
Pye International, like London American, was always destined to be a victim of its own success. It lost repertoire sources as US labels set up shop in the UK – and, when British beat reversed the talent flow in the wake of the Beatles, cutting-edge music was now being exported rather than imported.
When the ‘British Invasion’ of the United States charts happened in 1964, Pye took advantage of the Pye International connection and placed their home-grown artists on US labels they’d distributed in the UK: the Searchers went to Mercury, Liberty and finally Kapp Records, David Bowie, the Sorrows and Petula Clark to Warner Brothers, the Kinks to Cameo and then Reprise, Donovan to Hickory and Status Quo to Chess.
Though Pye International seemed to have run its course, some UK chart glory remained:
Chuck Berry had a run of seven hits from 1963-65, while 1968 saw a spate of bubblegum successes by the Ohio Express, the Lemon Pipers and 1910 Fruitgum Company. The Seventies saw the label used for such disparate artists as Olivia Newton-John and the Real Thing. It ceased operations in 1978 and, two years later, its parent company became PRT (Precision Records and Tapes) after the right to use the Pye name expired.
This 2 CD set contains 50 songs, well remastered and clean in sound. The song listing (with label & number, chart positions in UK and US) is as follows:
01 Come On, Let’s Go – Richie Valens (7N 25000)(UK, uncharted)(US 42/1958)
02 Ghost Satellite – Bob & Jerry (7N 25003)(UK, uncharted)(US, uncharted)*rare gem
03 Tell Him No – Travis & Bob (7N 25018)(UK, uncharted)(US 8/1959)*rare gem
04 Shakin’ And Stompin’ – Hot-Toddys (7N 25020)(UK, uncharted)(US 57/1959)*rare gem (b-side to the Rebels Rockin’ Crickets)
05 Jamaica Farewell – Nina & Frederik (7N 25021)(UK & US, uncharted)*rare gem
06 See You In September – Tempos (7N 25022)(UK, uncharted)(US 23/1959)*rare gem
07 Chilly Winds Don’t Blow – Nina Simone (7N 25029)(UK & US, uncharted)
08 Angel Face – James Darren (7N 25034)(UK, uncharted)(US 47/1959)
09 Sleepwalk – Santo & Johnny (7N 25037)(UK 22/1959)(US 1/1959)
10 A Lover’s Prayer – Dion & The Belmonts (7N 25038)(UK, uncharted)(US 73/1959)
11 Uh! Oh! Part 1 – Nutty Squirrels (7N 25044)(UK, uncharted)(US 45/1959)*rare gem
12 Forever – Little Dippers (7N 25051)(UK, uncharted)(US 9/1960)
13 Down By The River – Georgettes (7N 25058)(UK & US, uncharted)
14 Because They’re Young – James Darren (7N 25059)(UK 29/1960)(US, uncharted)
15 I Shot Mr. Lee – Bobettes (7N 25060)(UK, uncharted)(US 52/1960)
16 Pineapple Princess – Annette Funicello (7N 25061)(UK, uncharted)(US 11/1960)
17 Pepe – Shirley Jones (7N 25067)(UK & US, uncharted)*rare gem – only found in the Pepe soundtrack
18 Blue Moon – Marcels (7N 25073)(UK 1/1961)(US 1/1961)
19 Pony Time – Don Covay & The Goodtimers (7N 25075)(UK, uncharted)(US 60/1961)*rare gem – wrote Pony Time for Chubby Checker
20 (I Don’t Know Why) But I Do – Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry (7N 25078)(UK 3/1961)(US 4/1961)*rare gem
21 At Last – Etta James (7N 25080)(UK, surprisingly uncharted)(US 47/1961)
22 Trust In Me – Etta James (7N 25080)(UK, uncharted)(US 30/1961)
23 Man In Space – The Vigilantes (7N 25082)(UK and US, uncharted)*rare gem
24 Summertime – Marcels (7N 25083)(UK, uncharted)(US 78/1961)
25 Rama Lama Ding Dong – Edsels (7N 25086)(UK, uncharted)(US 21/1961)*rare gem
01 The Guns Of Navarone – Joe Reisman & His Orchestra (7N 25087)(UK, uncharted)(US 74/1961)*rare gem
02 Peanut Butter – Marathons (7N 25088)(UK, uncharted)(US 20/1961)*rare gem
03 You Always Hurt The One You Love – Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry (7N 25089)(UK 6/1961)(US 12/1961)* rare gem
04 Daddy’s Home – Shep & The Limelights (7N 25090)(UK, uncharted)(US 2/1961) Cliff Richard made it popular in 1981
05 I’ll Close My Eyes – Skyliners (7N 25091)(UK & US, uncharted)
06 Quite A Party – Fireballs (7N 25092)(UK 29/1961)(US 27/1961) just before their biggest hit, Sugar Shack
07 Triangle – Janie Gran (7N 25093)(UK, uncharted)(US 29/1961)* rare gem
08 Tell Me Why – Belmonts (7N 25094)(UK, uncharted)(US 18/1961)
09 Bobby – Neil Scott (7N 25096)(UK, uncharted)(US 58/1961)* rare gem
10 Rainin’ In My Heart – Slim Harpo (7N 25098)(UK, uncharted)(US 34/1961)* rare gem – R&R Hall of Fame
11 I’m Talking About You – Chuck Berry (7N 25100)(UK & US, uncharted)
12 Down In the Bottom – Howlin’ Wolf (7N 25101)(UK & US, uncharted)
13 Brother-In-Law – Paul Peek (7N 25102)(UK, uncharted)(US 84/1961)
14 Knee Socks – Ideals (7N 25103)(UK & US, uncharted)* rare gem
15 After Marriage Blues – Tiny Topsy (7N 25104)(UK & US, uncharted)
16 Yo Are My Sunshine – Marcels (7N 25105)(UK & US, uncharted)
17 The Watusi – Vibrations (7N 25107)(UK, uncharted)(US 25/1961)* rare gem
18 Lonely Street – Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry (7N 25108)(UK 42/1961)(US 57/1961)* rare gem
19 Music Music Music – Sensations (7N 25110)(UK, uncharted)(US 54/1961)* rare gem – their next big hit is Let Me In
20 Theme From ‘Come September’ – Santo & Johnny (7N 25111)(UK & US, uncharted)* rare gem – another version of Theme From Come September
21 Ready For Your Love – Shep & The Limeliters (7N 25112)(UK, uncharted)(US 42/1961)
22 Dream – Etta James (7N 25113)(UK, uncharted)(US 55/1961)* rare gem – the b-side of Fool That I Am
23 Heartaches – Marcels (7N 25114)(UK, uncharted)(US 7/1961)
24 Standing In The Need Of Love – Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry (7N 25115)(UK, uncharted)(US 109/1961)* rare gem – b-side to On Bended Knees
25 Goodbye Cruel World – James Darren (7N 25116)(UK 28/1961)(US 3/1961)
I personally have purchased the entire British Hit Parade series, from 1954 to 1961, which contained every charted a side singles that entered the UK chart during those years. I am glad to find that in this current The Pye International Story, many rare songs, which I have been searching for, have not charted, thus a welcome new addition to my library.
The label is One Day Music, a re-issue label from UK, also has other similar releases, such as The Top Rank Story 1960 & 1961 (each 2 CDs), Rave On: the Coral Story (2 CDs) and Oh Boy: the Brunswick Story (2 CDs)…other popular labels (Top Rank, Coral and Brunswick) from the 60s.
If you like oldies from UK and US, this set is an enjoyable listening experience. But for collectors like myself, this set is like a goldmine with lots of rare gems. This set with such a cheap price is recommended, especially for collectors.