These four tracks first appeared on the Tommy Lakes presents When Swing Was King LP on the  Promenade label out of Newark, New Jersey before they were licensed to the Opera label out of  Stuttgart in 1957. One budget label licensing to another budget label was common practice in those days, when the main objective was to sell records cheaper than the bigger labels. So probably that´s why Opera bought some swing standards by an unknown American band to add to their jazz catalog. Interestingly they also published Duke Ellingtons Overture To Jam Session, originally issued on the Musicraft label in 1946, as Opera #4409.

Now that I´ve mentioned budget and cheap so many times, I´ve probably sealed  Tommy Lakes fate forever, but while he ain´t no Count Basie, this is some nice big band swing. These tracks have never been re-released in any format in more than fifty years and will likely never be, but  King Porter Stomp does have some cool moments when the drums race the dueling clarinet and brass section towards the end of the song. That´s certainly still worth a couple of swing-outs:






9 Comments on “TOMMY LAKES ORCHESTRA, King Porter Stomp”

  1. Kurt L - KL in NYC says:

    Interesting. I didn’t know Synthetic Plastics licensed any of their stuff — that’s the New Jersey plastics factory that issued LPs on Promenade and a bunch of other made-up labels, but mostly on Spin-O-Rama and Diplomat. Their pressings are always on cheap, noisy vinyl, but this one sounds like it’s much better quality.
    However, don’t pay too much attention to the artists’ names because they’re usually fake — the names and LP covers change every time they’re reissued.

    BTW, if you come across anything licensed from Prom, Colortone, Audition, or Grand Award, those budget labels are from Enoch Light, who was also based in New Jersey — he did a lot of licensing. He eventually hit it big with those sterophile LPs on his Command label in 1960.
    The Enoch Light budget labels often used top session musicians like Dick Hyman, who were later featured on the Command LPs, so they’re considered “collectibles”.

  2. mischalke04 says:

    Wow! How do you know all this stuff? I always think I´m the only one who cares about budget records. Most record collectors think they´re garbage. Luckily most record dealers too!

  3. Kurt L - KL in NYC says:

    Record collectors trade info on budget labels. There is a Wikipedia entry for Synthetic Plastics/SPC, but it is inaccurate.

    Feel free to e-mail me if you need any help with that.

    On CD:
    1. Ace Records UK bought Modern-RPM Records (California) including their Crown Records budget label, and has been releasing the budget rock and roll stuff.
    2. A German company has been releasing CD compilations of the Hit-Giant-Spar budget cover version 45s (from Nashville, Tennessee).

    Good Reference Sites:
    3. This site has substantial discographies of North American budget labels, but you have to read through all the links to find what you need:
    4. If you want histories of US record companies who produced “normal” LPs, complete with discographies and cover photos, use this site and travel halfway down the page until you get to the links:
    5. Discographies for 45rpm labels (including small companies) from the US, UK, Canada, and Australia are here:
    For US 45s, use the “Search by Record Label” link on left, or the alphabet links at the top
    For UK, Canadian, & Australian 45s – go halfway down the page and click on one of the flags.

    If you need any help, just e-mail (if my e-mail doesn’t show up here let me know if you need it). I learned more about these things because all the record collectors traded information.

    A few years ago some of us had a “project” where we tried to figure out how many times Synthetic Plastics released the same Hawaiian album — we were up to about 80 times, on four different labels, with different cover photos, and a bunch of different names like Luke Leilani, Lukliani, Harry Kaapuni, Hakapuni, etc.
    Very funny.when you consider that there must have been an old lady somewhere who bought the same Hawaiian album ten times and thought she was going crazy because they all played the same songs.
    That still makes me laugh.

  4. mischalke04 says:

    Thanks for all the information and links. Will be very helpful for future “investigation”. Lots of U.S. material turned up here on budget labels or smaller parent labels. It´s always interesting to find the original source of a record.

    Then again, because the majority of local collectors are obsessed with U.S. material, I find it more challenging to focus on German budget releases. Of course most of it is kinda lame, but that´s only a matter of taste. I like “good music” as much as anybody, but what I like even more is records to be funny, strange and surprising. A lot of German budget releases are. Still only a handful of people think this material is worth their time. So buying these records cheaply is easy. Finding information about tiny German budget labels is a difficult and time consuming task.

    I`ll do my best…

  5. Kurt L - KL in NYC says:

    The Record Collector snobs here started out that way, too, but that attitude changed over time. It will eventually happen that way in your area, so consider yourself ahead of your time.

    Something to consider for the near future:
    Think of public domain (non-copyright protected) tracks that would fit on a “Twist” or “Novelty” CD.
    Specialty CDs are pretty easy, and inexpensive, to do here and in some other countries (we have to pay for song rights if the song had been published, but other countries don’t).
    You’re capable of handling the cover art, plus you have all the label scans and background info for liner notes.
    In NYC, self-produced CDs with the “environmentally-friendly” cardboard sleeves that are available here (they fold out like a double LP with a pouch for the booklet on the left, and one on the right for the CD) cost a few hundred dollars per thousand CDs.

    You do a lot of traveling, so you could always put together an distribution list of music shops that might be interested, as well as local places.

    Just a suggestion to keep in mind for the future.
    (Just don’t tell your girlfriend because she’ll say it’s an awful idea and why would you want to waste your money on doing that :) )

  6. Kurt L - KL in NYC says:

    I forgot to mention selling them on eBay, which seems to be the most popular method of independent music distribution here besides CDBaby.

  7. mischalke04 says:

    Thanks for all the information and advice. It so happens, that I´m closer to thinking about doing a proper reissue than ever. But not a CD. I´m 46 now and I´ve been collecting records for more than 30 years and never really got into CDs. Except for a short time in 1990, when some hip hop was only released on CD. I just love vinyl records, so I would rather put out an LP. And not more than 100 copies either, because I´m a terrible businessman, as everyone who ever knew me will attest. 100 copies I can always get rid of without distribution.

  8. Kurt L - KL in NYC says:

    A 7-inch 33rpm 4-song EP might be more affordable, if the pressing factory is set up for 45s. If the factory does mainly 12-inch dance singles, then they probably have a better price for 12″ pressings. You’ll have to check on what’s available.

    Buyers might be more willing to take a chance on unknown music on a small EP, but your area may only offer polystyrene for 7″ (each side is injection molded like toys, and then the halves and their labels are glued together). Polystyrene is cheaper, but wears out quickly.

    Independent record producers here make sure to spend money on the acetate master disc (the record from which the pressing master is made). The quality of the pressing master, and the plastic used, are two main things that determine the quality of the record.

    If you ever do a Twist volume, definitely let me know.
    Some of the communist post card twist records would be interesting (and public domain) if you could manage to clean up the sound.

  9. mischalke04 says:

    Lots of possibilities… it´ll be fun to choose the right format.Cleaning up the sound is a priority. By the way, communist post card twist records are mostly under copyright, because they used already existing twist songs from the state-owned labels catalog for those post cards. The majority of that material was bought by labels like Sony and Bertelsmann and they usually don´t license their material to small insignificant indies.

    But there´s still looots of possibilities…

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