DID YOU KNOW JIM'S
EARLY SOUTH AFRICAN 78 RPM SHELLAC DISCS WERE RELEASED ON THE BRITISH
Despite Gilbert Gibson's
submission that Jim was not popular in South Africa until his 1960 hit
"He'll have to go", there is evidence to show he had record releases in that
country at least 5 years before.
The press clipping from the
Johannesburg Sunday Times of 1st April 1956 advertising Decca record
releases, shows Jim headlining with "Gypsy heart" c/w "It's hard to love
just one" (FM 6328). This is rather a strange combination of tracks as it
follows neither the UK or US release, showing the local A&R executives
followed their own instincts, rather like Pat Campbell did later on in the
UK with his selection of titles for single release. "Gypsy heart" had been
the B side of Jim's very first UK single "Bimbo" on the London label
(HL8014) released in March 1954. "It's hard to love just one" had been the
B side of Jim's third UK single "Butterfly love" on the London label
(HL8055) released in June 1954.
The advertisement also included
singles by British artists Dave King & the Stargazers who recorded for the
UK Decca label and three American artistes, Bill Haley & his Comets,
Danny Kaye & daughter Dena, and the Dreamweavers who all recorded for the US
Decca (released on the Brunswick label in the UK). The Dreamweavers single
of "It's almost tomorrow" became a no.1 smash in the UK.
Decca Records began as a British
record label in 1929, established by former stockbroker Edward Lewis. The US
label was established in 1934. In 1939 Lewis sold his interest in American
Decca & in 1942 the stockmarket began trading in shares of Decca Inc, the
two Decca's becoming separate companies. Dissatisfied with American Decca's
promotion of British Decca's recordings & the fact that American Decca now
held the rights to the Decca name in the US & Canada, British Decca sold its
records there under the London Records label beginning in 1947. In Britain
London Records became an encompassing licensing umbrella for foreign
recordings from the US independent & semi-major labels like Cadence,
Imperial, Liberty, ABC Paramount, Fabor & Abbott.
Fabor Robison had signed a long
term licensing agreement with London Records in the US in 1953 for rest of
the world distribution of Abbott & Fabor material. This is the reason that
the 1962 UK album "Bimbo" (HA-U8015) was released on Decca's London label &
not RCA Records. Their 10 year arrangement with Fabor Robison was still
legally binding for the rest of the world, even though RCA had purchased all
Jim's Abbott material in 1956.
Finally, back to the
advertisement. Obviously these early 78's are very rare. We tried to
discern what other early Reeves 78's had been released in South Africa.
Unfortunately we hit a brick wall. German researcher/discographer Kurt
Rokitta confirmed he had only ever seen but one other release - a Decca
single FM 6283 which coupled "Tahiti" with Ginny Wright & Tom Tall's Fabor
single (117) "Are you mine?" He confirmed there was scant discographical
reference for early South African releases either in print or on the
internet. He would welcome any further information on this matter.
advertisement: courtesy Frank
label scan: Kurt Rokitta (Kurt
can be contacted through the fan club)