Chubby Checker

The Very Best of the K-Tel Recordings

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Anyone interested in Chubby Checker might need a bit of guidance because frankly, folks, this guy's discography is like a hall full of mirrors. If you want to hear the original "Twist," find the pleasantly smutty recording made by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters in 1958. If you want to hear Checker's classic early recordings (several of them containing the word "Twist" in the title), bear in mind that they were made for the Cameo and Parkway labels during the early '60s. If you want those originals you need to look for the words "Cameo" and "Parkway." If they are not in evidence, it is likely that you are up against Chub's dreaded K-Tel recordings, which were made during the early '70s when he found himself unable to access his own early catalog, as it had become property of Allen Klein's ABKCO Industries in 1968. A 1972 ABKCO/London LP reissue of 16 Cameo-Parkway titles appears to have exploited the singer's reputation while denying him royalties and forcing him to record new renditions of his early hits for K-Tel out of desperation. There's something kind of counterfeit about Chubby Checker's K-Tel catalog. To put it bluntly, Checker was imitating himself, which is not surprising seeing as his entire career was founded upon a fascinating ability to mimic others, including Hank Ballard, Fats Domino, Larry Darnell, Jackie Wilson and Harry Belafonte. Sounding rather forced and slickly produced, Chubby Checker's K-Tel recordings crop up everywhere like crabgrass, midges or hives. Some budget labels shrewdly "forget" to reveal the K-Tel origin, causing confusion in an already disorderly discography. The K-Tel catalog has been trundled out piecemeal with numbing regularity: Dominion drew upon it for Chubby Checker's Greatest Hits in 1987 and Chubby Checker's Dance Party in 1991, the same year K-Tel regurgitated another chunk of Greatest Hits, followed by yet another in 1993. K-Tel's 1995 Ultimate Collection delivered "16 All-Time Classics" from that same hackneyed catalog. In 2001, just when the world seemed utterly devoid of K-Tel reissues, the folks at Collectables assembled an unprecedented 20 titles for The Very Best of the K-Tel Recordings, including "Hey, Bobba Needle" and "Let's Do the Freddie." Undaunted by this development, K-Tel squeezed out another ten-track All-Time Greatest Hits in 2002 followed by an identical issue of the same in 2005. And it was in 2005 that ABKCO finally released Chubby Checker's Cameo-Parkway catalog on CD, rendering the entire K-Tel problem a moot issue. If for some reason you really want the longest, juiciest dipstick of all K-Tel reissues, go with the Very Best on Collectables.

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