Friday, November 25, 2005
Joey Dee and the Starliters - Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes
There are several artists whose records I don't actively seek out but that'll I'll usually pick up if I see them for cheap. Joey Dee & the Starliters are one such artist. Their records usually don't command much attention in the collector's market but often make for good to excellent rock and roll dance music. Such is the case with today's selection, "Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes".
Joey Dee & the Starliters are best known for their huge #1 smash, "Peppermint Twist". Their first hit, it took full advantage of the popular dance craze of the early 1960's. In fact, it followed Chubby Checker's "The Twist" to the top spot nationally during that song's second big chart run. The Starliters had several other hits but none came close to matching the success of their first. Today, "Peppermint Twist" is the only Joey Dee song you're bound to hear on oldies radio.
"Hot Pastrami with Mashed Potatoes" charted in the spring of 1963 but it wasn't the biggest hit version of the song. Instead, The Dartells hold that honor with the shorter titled "Hot Pastrami". Both singles were released about the same time. The Starliters version sounds as though it was recorded live, probably at the Peppermint Lounge where they were the house band. I'm not sure of the origins of the song, so perhaps their recording was made earlier and released as a single when The Dartells started having success with the song.
Comparing the two side-by-side, I prefer The Starliters record. It has a fuller, more pumping organ sound and stronger vocals. It's just Joey singing, "Mashed potatoes, yeah!" and little else but his vocal really helps drive the song and makes it more than an instrumental with a few words tossed in. We get two-part action, with Joey changing his tact to, "Hot pastrami, yeah!" over on the flipside. Plus, Part 2 features a pretty good organ workout. Anyway, I like The Dartells' record just fine but think The Starliters' is even better. Neither should cost more than a buck or two.