Colorradio.com - Mickey & Sylvia
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If you were on the East Coast and you needed a stellar guitarist for your recording session, you could have called on McHouston (Mickey) Guitar Baker. Had you needed a vocalist, you might have rung the phone of Sylvia Vanderpool. That would be if she wasn't busy singing as "Little Sylvia " for the Hot Lips Page outfit for two Columbia label recordings in 1950, or several other early 1950's record labels. Evidently,they called to each other, and became a prolific singing duo through the 50's and early 60's. Sylvia even had a #3 solo record in 1973. Mickey And Sylvia started out on the Rainbow label for three releases, before signing to the RCA label subsidiary Groove. Their second single for groove produced their biggest hit, Love Is Strange. On to another RCA label called Vik, and then to the parent, RCA. A stop at King records and the King based Willow label, and you have over 25 singles, LP's and EP's, with a small gap in-between. I have attempted to feature most of the records they recorded through the early 1960's. I also am including a few of the initial releases by Sylvia while on her own, and will continue until all the early material is collected. I am not attempting to showcase Mickey's work both solo and as part of other teams, as the task seems to large. Mickey and Sylvia were a fine recording team, married in fact, for a time, and had a huge following before they broke up. Mickey moved to Paris and the duo was done.
This is Slyvia's first recording. Listed on the label as Sylvia Vanterpool, she was accompanied by Hot Lips Page. Recording for Columbia records, this was the first of two discs she would wax for them. The second one she used her name, as Vanderpool. Above is "Chocolate Candy Blues" showing the Magichords along with Page. The record was backed with Pacifying Blues. The Nelson Clark orchestra was in the mix on both sides. Released in 1950.
After the two discs at Columbia, it was on to Savoy. This is the first of two records released on the label and they listed the artist as Little Sylvia. "How Long Must I Be Blue" was backed with "Little Boy" and was released in 1951. The promo copy is shown above.
This is the stock copy of the Little Sylvia record on the red and gold Savoy label. It is identical to the promo copy shown previously with the exception of the words "Free Sample Copy" shown on the left side,middle, on the labels previously shown. I always like the Sav-O-Flex, "Unbreakable Under Normal Use." Whatever that was!
Here is the 45 RPM of the Little Sylvia record. Savoy didn't change their label or logo all that much, so this looks like a typical release for that period. They were not much into pressing records with colored wax until some legitimate reissues appeared about 1961. They used the blue label, and issued some fairly rare sides. I have not seen this one in that reissue group.
Apparently label hopping, here is the first of the Jubilee label recordings for Little Sylvia Vanderpool. "Drive Daddy Drive" is a fine up tempo effort, and it is paired with the original flip, "I Went To Your Wedding." This was issued in 1952 and also released on 45RPM
Shown is another issue of the record, this time changing the flip to ""I Found Somebody To Love." It's almost impossible to tell which flipside was the first to be paired with Drive Daddy Drive, and this flip seems to show up much less. They tried this "B" side twice, as you will read about below on a subsequent Little Sylvia Jubilee waxing. The recording has a similar theme to the plug side, and is uptempo. If it had been issued first, I could see why Jubilee may have wanted a ballad/jump combination, and maybe this flip was too strong and would have competed for spins. Notice the record time has been added to each label.
This is a promo release of "A Million Tears." I say it cautiously since it was released with two different flip sides as detailed below. This is a white label promo and is very unusual in that it has the same song and label on both sides. I do have examples from the late 50's and early 60's on 45 RPM of the same song on both sides, and it was certainly a standard practice in the later 60's to do the same with a mono and stereo side. For me, this is the earliest example on 78 of a promo with the same song on each side. It made it easy to determine the song to play, and I suppose gave the record extra life since they could theoretically wear down both sides of the record.
There were several releases on Jubilee for Little Sylvia. The first had two different flip sides (Shown above 5093), then this release, which also had two different flipsides - the one shown and also "I Found Somebody To Love" Shown above is Jubilee record 5100 "A Million Tears" and "Don't Blame My Heart" on 78. Both sides are ballads, and issued in 1953. Whew!
My copy "A Million Tears" on 45 RPM has Red Vinyl. You would think if Jubilee could issue a red vinyl 45 at 5100, they could do it four releases later with the Five Sharps! Click the records for enlarged pictures.
Here is the last of the Jubilee issues as Little Sylvia. The 45 RPM is shown above, and again on red Vinyl. "The Ring" is backed with "Blue Heaven", which is not the classic song that Fats Domino and many others before him recorded. This was co-written by Sylvia and others. Both sides are ballads, and both have very nice guitar and organ accompaniment. Click on the records for enlargements. Released in 1953.
Little Sylvia Vanderpool had Cat's second issue, 102. Sylvia was to shortly become half of the duo Mickey And Sylvia. "Fine Love" backed with the up tempo"Speedy Life", shows her with Mickey Baker and his band. Little Sylvia had first recorded with Hot Lips Page on Columbia records in 1950.
This was issued in 1954.
This is the 45 RPM issue. Two decent sides by Sylvia, who would enjoy many duet hits with Mickey Baker, and then on her own in the 1970's and charted high with "Pillow Talk." She recorded more records in her career than many people know about. See my Cat records page HERE
"I'm So Glad" and the flip "See De Boom Run Dun." A decent two sider for the duo released in 1955. Anybody heard the Rainbow issue right before them by the artist Cousin Snorkel? I had to buy the record, just to find out!
Here is the Rainbow release on 45RPM. The 45 is clearly marked as such, yet the other rainbow 78's do not show the 78 RPM markings. The 45 also does not have the Rainbow Recording Company on the top, as the 78 does.
Mickey And Sylvia's second release for Rainbow apparently was the very next record number issued, as their was no record number 317. "Forever And A Day" backed with "Rise Sally Rise." Shown is the yellow Rainbow label 78. Seems difficult to have a hit when records are released back to back and not much time to promote.
This is the 45 issue on Rainbow. The same yellow color as the 78. Rainbow records was responsible for some great group sides including Lee Andrews and the Hearts.
This is the last Mickey And Sylvia Rainbow issue, " Where Is My Honey" and "Seems Like Just Yesterday." Another good outing for the duo for sure. As you can tell Rainbow issued 78's and 45's for all their sides for the label.
The 45 RPM record. Mickey Baler wrote the "A" side, and they teamed up on the flip side. Unfortunately, the sales just didn't add up. It was time for them to move on again. Released in 1956.
Mickey And Sylvia jumped to the Groove label for two more recordings. Groove was a subsidiary of RCA records. RCA was trying to cash in on the R+B and vocal group and blues market at the time. "No Good Lover" is a great up tempo with some great guitar work. "Walkin In The Rain" is the flip. Pictured is the 78.
The 45 version of the distinctive green and black Groove label. Notice that both songs were written by Mickey and Sylvia. I always have appreciated that about artists that write many of their own songs. Released in 1956
Here is the biggest hit of their careers. "Love Is Strange" backed with "I'm Going Home." The record went to #1 on the national R+B charts for two weeks. The call and response worked well and grabbed everyone's attention in 1956. It has been featured in numerous movies and commercials. It stands today as an all time classic.
And the 45 RPM release. Neither side was written by the duo this time, but they seemed to momentarily have the hit formula . The song was revived in the 1990 movie Dirty Dancing.
RCA's Groove label released an EP shortly after the success of "Love Is Strange", that included the 4 sides released on Groove. Groove actually released several EP's by other Groove artists of the time. Both pictures can be enlarged.
Here are both sides of the label. Complete with "New Orthophonic High Fidelity", their version of the latest recording techniques that would convince you they were the best around. All the major labels had a catch phrase for their recording processes and many included them on literature or even the back of the LP's or record sleeves.
The next label change was not as drastic. They were moved to Vik, another subsidiary of RCA. Vik's lineup included many pop artists and a few doo wop groups. They must have felt that Mickey And Sylvia would get better exposure then keeping them with the blues and R+B sounds of Groove. Here is the first Vik label release #252. This is a Canadian 78 of their hit "Love Is Strange" with the same flip "I'm Going Home"
This is the Canadian 45 of the same record. Seems the same take of both sides of the Groove issue were used on the Vik release. Maybe they hoped to revive the song with a new label and a slightly later release date, at least in Canada. I have not seen a Vik issue of "Love Is Strange" in the USA.
Next up is "There Oughta To Be A Law" backed with "Dearest." This was their next biggest hit in their joint careers. Hitting both the pop and r+b charts, this record strengthened their position as one of the best duos of the decade. Release year for this 78 was 1957.
Here is the more common 45 issue of their hit. Notice the colorful US Vik label that was used for most releases. They were on a roll and even the flip side made an appearance on the pop charts.
Their first and only EP on Vik was released about this time in 1957 and included the above two sides along with a couple they previously recorded for rainbow records. Both sides are the same, except for the added wear on the right picture.
These are the record labels. They were just getting started with Vik, with many more records to follow.
"Love Will Make You Fail In School" was the immediate follow-up, and was backed with "Two Shadows On Your Window." Release number 0280, it did not chart but had good reaction and still sold fairly well. Released in 1957.
Although my intent is not to show all the Canadian releases, this was too good to pass up. Not only Is it the Canadian Vik label, but it's a promo to boot. They used the same record number as the USA Vik, and the rest of the information is the same.
The next release was "Love Is A Treasure" with "Let's Have A Picnic" on the backside. A nice two sider. Shown is the 78 release from 1957. Vik was very consistent in providing Mickey And Sylvia's discs on both 78 and 45 RPM formats.
This is the 45 RPM release of the same record. Again, no national chart action, but sales were good and Vik/RCA wisely stayed with Mickey And Sylvia because of their popularity and sales.
"They'll Be No Backing Out" was next in line. On the flip was"Where Is My Honey." Notice the reference to the Vik album "New Sounds."
And the 45. The LP mention is also on the 45, but was just for the B side, like the 78.
This is their LP release for Vik called New Sounds on Vik 1102. The liner notes on the back of the LP are uncredited, but are a great advertisement to help sell the record. Click for enlargements.
These are the labels to the above LP. The tracks included two rainbow cuts, two from Vik and the other eight making an appearance for the first time on vinyl.
Back to the singles and another pop chart entry with "Bewildered." The flip is "Rock And Stroll Room." This is another really good two sider from Mickey And Sylvia. This was released in 1958.
The 45 RPM version of "Bewildered" and "The Rock And Stroll Room." Notice that Leiber and Stoller are producers on both sides of this record (Middle left). It is the only Vik release they are mentioned on.
Wrapping up their releases on Vik was "True True Love" and "It's You I Love." Although it finished their Vik label output, they would now change labels again! Sort of.
Since they recorded on some of RCA's subsidiaries, why not record for RCA? Done! Their first release was "To The Valley" and "Oh Yeah Uh Huh." No real chart action nationally, but a nice record. Released in 1958.
Up next was "Sweeter As The Day Goes By" and "Mommy Out De Light." One of just two RCA releases that were also issued in stereo. The other was their next release on RCA 7811 (Not shown in stereo).
Here is the mono copy. Sammy Lowe is conducting the orchestra on most of the RCA releases. Issued in 1960
"What Would I Do" and "This Is My Story" was next for Mickey And Sylvia. Both sides charted on the Billboard Pop Charts. Another good two sider that showed their ability to make strong records and still hit the charts. Mickey Baker conducts the orchestra on "This Is My Story."
"Love Lesson" and "Love Is The Only Thing" definitely had a theme. It was also the only compact 33 that RCA issued with Mickey And Sylvia. 1961
Here is the record pairing again, this time on a standard release for RCA.
Time for another label change, but this time with a twist. Mickey and Sylvia decided to form their own record company, Willow records. Their first outing resulted in "Baby You're So Fine" and "Lovedrops." Both sides made the pop top 100 billboard charts in 1961.
"Darling I Miss You" was the follow-up record on Willow, given the usual Mickey and Sylvia treatment. The song was recorded by several artists including Lillian Offitt on Excello as Miss You So. The flip was "I'm Guilty." 1961.
They started to fall back to the standards and recorded Buddy Johnson's "Since I Fell For You." The flip was the Ike Turner penned "He Gave Me Everything." A musical connection will be shown with Ike and Tina Turner later. 1961.
Speaking of standards, their last release was their own standard, "Love Is Strange." It appears to be the same as the groove label take, but with overdubs on vocals. The Flip was done on Groove as well and called "Walking In The Rain." 1961.
Back to RCA with "Let's Shake Some More" written by Leonard Lee of Shirley And Lee fame, flipped with "The Gypsy." Joe Rene is now producing. Curiously, this was released in 1965, which was four years after the last RCA issue. Shown above is the promotional issue. "Let's Shake Some More" is well marked with the big star signaling the plug side.
Here is the stock 45 RPM copy.
The last release for the RCA label from Mickey And Sylvia, "Fallin In Love" and "From The Beginning Of Time." This was also released in 1965.
There was one last release from Mickey And Sylvia utilizing their Willow label distributor, King records. Another try at the same Willow label take "Love Is Strange" flipped with the same recording from Willow 23002 "Darling I Miss You." Released in 1965. The promotional copy is shown.
This is the stock copy of the 1965 release. King records had long since adopted the High Fidelity statement, starting about ten years earlier.
Here's one that qualifies for an odd record. This disc was originally released on Savoy in 1951 (pictured back at the start of the page), and was then re-released in 1960 on Sharp #103. It is the exact same take of the great up tempo tune. Sharp just happened to be a subsidiary of Savoy records. Sharp started as a gospel label, and then introduced the 100 series for pop and some R+B. The promo shows Free Sample on the middle right, and is black and white. The flip side of this record is by the Ray O Vacs "I'll Always Be In Love With You." The promotional copy is shown.
This is the stock copy of the odd pairing. Notice the label is listed as "Popular." This normally indicates a series. Jazz, Gospel, Country Western, are just a few types of series that other labels had.
Mickey and Sylvia played on Ike and Tina Turner's "It's Gonna Work Out Fine." Above are two different label variations on this 1961 Sue records release.
RCA Camden released an LP of the Mickey and Sylvia material in 1965, after the hits had come. Ten cuts on a long overdue LP. Interestingly, the liner notes say the LP is released at "The Height Of Their Success." Shown above are both the Stereo and Mono covers. Click for enlargements.
The record labels are above for both stereo and mono Camden LP's.
Although released a bit past the scope of this profile, in 1973 RCA released an LP entitled Mickey And Sylvia Do It Again." This included 12 cuts from the RCA family including a few originally unreleased sides. On the strength of the 1973 album release, RCA reissued Love Is Strange, and the duo, now recording on Stang records, issued Baby You're So Fine (Not Pictured).
Updates: All Mickey and Sylvia issues are accounted for in one form or the other,through 1965. Needed are the US Vik 45 of Love Is Strange if it is actually real. Mickey and Sylvia have both passed away.
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