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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 19 August 2017
I bought the "Pye International Story" for a number of tracks that I wanted in my novice collection of, 50s and 60s music that I have been collecting over these last few weeks.
Sleepwalk by Santo & Johnny, Ramma Lamma Don't Dong, The Edsel's, Raining in my heart, Slim Harpo and Goodbye cruel World, held a special interest for me in between the obvious fillers and padding tracks that are included to make up this interesting two CD set.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 16 February 2016

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:

Disc 1:
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

Disc 2:
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.
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The disc label in the centre of the CD tells you exactly what this is all about and that is recordings from 1958 to 1961 originally released on the Pye International label. There are 50 tracks and a running time of over 2 hours (remember these were often short running time tracks as they were made for the singles market). Sound quality wise the discs are excellent. The liner notes are by Michael Heatley and track the Pye International story and the compilation includes many known artistes and some one hit wonders too. Nicely packaged as are all these One Day Music products and they represent great value.

Here are just half a dozen performers from the collection which I have listened to and thoroughly enjoyed...

Nina & Frederik (CD1 track 5)
Nina & Frederik were a Danish popular singing duo of the late 1950s and early 1960s.[Their repertoire consisted of a blend of folk music, calypsos and standards. The duo consisted of Frederik, Baron van Pallandt and his wife at the time, Nina van Pallandt. Their earliest known single was "Jamaica Farewell"/"Come Back Liza", both calypso songs, issued in 1959 on Pye International 7N 25021, but showing a 1957 'recording first published' date.

James Darren (CD1 track 14 & CD2 track 25)
James William Ercolani (born 1936), known by his stage name James Darren, is a well known television and film actor, television director, and singer. Darren began his career as a teen idol, having been discovered by talent agent and casting director Joyce Selznick. This encompassed roles in films, most notably his role as Moondoggie in Gidget in 1959, as well as a string of pop hits for Colpix Records, the biggest of which was "Goodbye Cruel World" (number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1961). It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The 2 songs here are 1960 "Because They're Young" (UK number 29) and from 1961 "Goodbye Cruel World" (US number 3, UK number 28).

Shirley Jones (CD1 track 17)
Shirley Mae Jones (born 1934) has been active for an amazing six decades of show business, as an actress, singer and television star. She is still best known for roles in classic musicals such as Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), and The Music Man (1962). She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing a vengeful prostitute in Elmer Gantry (1960). She played Shirley Partridge, the widowed mother of five children in the situation-comedy television series The Partridge Family (1970-1974), co-starring her real-life stepson David Cassidy, son of Jack Cassidy. This CD compilation has her recording of Pepe from the 1960 film of the same name.

Joe Reisman (CD2 track 1)
Joe Reisman (1924 to 1987) was well known for his successful and evocative recording of the theme from The Guns of Navarone that did well in the US charts reaching number 74 in August 1961. The New York public library has a vast collection of his scores and the reference states... Joe Reisman was a producer and arranger at RCA Victor and Roulette Records from the 1950s to the 1970s; he worked independently into the mid-1980s. His scores and papers document his work on behalf of such artists as Henry Mancini, Patti Page, Sarah Vaughan, Perry Como, and for his own albums and soundtracks.

Janie Grant (CD2 track 7)
Here we have Janie Grant singing Triangle and having done some research she is one of those artists reffered to perhaps unfairly as a "one hit wonder" and certainly I can find many references to her song on this compilation. Gerry Granahan produced the recording giving her the stage name "Janie Grant", Gerry produced the Caprice label's first hit on one of her original compositions. "Triangle" is the record that put Caprice on the map by reaching number 29 in 1961 and followed it up with Romeo b/w Roller Coaster (109) 1961; I Wonder Who's Kissing You Now bw/ Unhappy (111) 1961; Oh Johnny b/w Oh My Love (113) 1962; That Greasy Kid Stuff b/w Trying To Forget You (115) 1962; Peggy Got Engaged b/w Two's Company And Three's A Crowd (119) 1962; Tell Me Mama b/w Whose Heart Are You Breaking Now (UA 616) 1963

Neil Scott (CD2 track 9)
Born Neil Bogart in 1943 under the name Neil Scott he had a mini-hit called "Bobby" in 1961. Performing was not his area but when he went into promotion, he began to find his niche. He became head of Cameo-Parkway Records when he was 25. He had the right feel for what made a hit and reached his youth market with an undisputed genius. In spite of his share of flops, he became a multimillionaire record producer.
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on 19 March 2016
Pye International released Chess recordings in Britain and these items were many peoples introduction to Chuck Berry , Bo Diddley and Chicago Blues . This collection also includes rootsy pop material from Chess and other American labels .
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on 24 September 2013
I bought this for certain tracks, which are great. I program my CD to pass over those tracks which are "filler". It did allow me to try out stuff that I didn't know, and at the price i can't really fault it.
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I admit to being a little sceptical about this cd set when I first saw it advertised. As any record collector will know, it seems that Pye Group cd compilations are issued with alarming regularity, some of them with very little thought as to their content. Checking the track listing changed my mind, okay, there was a double cd set put out by Sequel years ago, and I have to say, it was a great retrospective look at the Pye International label. Thinking there would be lots of duplications, I was pleasantly surprised with this new set. There are the few tracks that are on the Sequel set, but there are loads that aren't. Out of the 50 tracks here, so many good ones, too many to list, but for years I've been after Uh Oh by The Nutty Squirrels, I'd been unable to find Pineapple Princess by Annette Funicello, they're both on here. Many other great tracks as well, as for the price, how do they do it. There could have been a little more detail about some of the artistes, but that's only a minor point. I realise that some collectors won't want the information that me, a diehard collector craves. One thing that puzzles me, who are Not Now Music, are they owned by one of the major labels?. Now the big question and I'm sure others will ask this too, are there going to be more cd's in the series, as Pye International issued singles up to at least 7N 25747, so there's certainly scope for several more double cd sets to come. I certainly hope so, then of course they could take a look at the Piccadilly label, and hopefully do a similar job. A big well done to Not Now Music, and it goes without saying, highly recommended.
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on 15 August 2012
The Pye International label ran to middle of 1975 and into the disco era and read like a potted history of pop music from 1960 to well beyond the decade when they put out the first Captain Beefheart's Magic Band and licensed MOR from the A & M label who had signed Beefheart following a Bo Diddley cover but sacked him after they were unable to understand his oddball music any more than me,garage bands and folk rock from the Autumn label,and psychedelia (the Strawberry Alarm Clock).After 1962 many of the licensed labels had their own imprints eg Chess and Colpix but this selection is from the first 2 years.1962 started with the first U K release of a Johnny Rivers track Blue Skies
Maybe they should have done seperate years as many recordings are missed-even hits like Rosemary June-I'll be with you in Apple Blossom Time,Dale Wright & the Wright Guys (Fraternity) whose album is now on Ace,the Upbeats (Joy),the 4 Esquires (Paris)and the Reg Owen Ork whose Manhatten Spiritual was an American hit and came from the French label Pallette.
There were various curiosities issued on the Pye International label such as the Cliff Adams Singers,101 Strings and Tony Hatch which may have had U S release first.
It is however a more satisfying CD than the Top Rank disasters
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on 20 November 2012
This is the 2nd Pye Int story - the first was about 10 years ago - now this comes out with a differing set of tracks and at an amazing price. For years I have collected the ACE type rereleases but have been paid top dollar for them. Now somehow 'One Music' can put these out at market stall prices. Amazing value and nicely packaged (although without detailed track information and no indication that some tracks may be rerecordings - although non stand out as such.)
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on 2 March 2013
I loved these numbers first time round. There were no such thing as CDs then,so it's great to get them all together on discs for such a keen price.
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on 6 March 2013
Bought this for hubby at Christmas and he loves it so much, it is never off and though it'snot my type of music, I have come to like it too.
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