Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Make me wait....

One of a stash of 45s found several years back with all the labels soaked off. It's "Skate Boogaloo And Karate Too" by Lee Harris on the Forte label, which was owned by Ellis Taylor, Marva Whitney's husband.

There are various stories as to why the labels were stripped, but the most convincing I've heard is that Whitney's name wasn't printed on the original label and thus it was decided to apply another label.

This goes counter to the more common theory that Whitney's name was on the label and the 45s were stripped either because Taylor was mad at her or because having her name on the record violated her contract with King records [Whitney's 45s on Forte were usually credited in odd ways].

While it may not make sense that the labels were removed because Whitney wasn't credited, the evidence suggests it's a good possibility. The few existing non-stripped copies of "Skate Boogaloo And Karate Too" do not mention Whitney on the label, while copies of another Lee Harris 45 on Forte, which also appears to have been stripped, have had another label [badly] re-applied which reads, "A Marva Whitney Production", across the top.

And there's a bit more. Ya see, the re-applied labels on the other Lee Harris 45 show a later date than the pressing code suggests. In other words, those 45s were pressed during the time Whitney had an obligation to King, and the attempt to re-label them was made when that obligation was no longer in force, or at least less of a problem.

The same is probably true of this 45. It was originally issued in '67 or '68, didn't sell at all, and the labels on the left over stock were stripped sometime in the early '70s with the thought that a label credit to Whitney would be a selling point. Unfortunately, the re-labeling process was not successful [it looks awful] and the stripped copies were put back into storage only to be found 30 odd years later. End of story.

It's worth mentioning that this may be the world's easiest 45 to bootleg, especially since all issues on Forte were Columbia Custom pressings [meaning that the run-out codes are stamped-in rather than scratched by hand]. Thus, I wouldn't pay a lot for a copy [nor in fact did I].

There's also a little matter of the number of supposedly legit copies around. The aforementioned stash apparently contained several hundred copies. That's more than enough to drive down the price of any record. Don't believe anyone who tells you a stripped copy is ultra-rare, if anything it's the labeled copies that are scarce as hen's teeth.

Still, it's a great 45, both sides are excellent.....and if nothing else, the stripped copies make for interesting conversation pieces. That is, as long as you can remember what the record actually is. I'm sorely tempted to write the pertinent info on my copy.

Hope ya'll enjoy....


  1. I see you were featured on WFMU's Mining the Audio Motherlode blog. A well-deserved tribute!

  2. Thank you for saying so, Rentstrike. That was kind of you.