Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

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Chubby Checker: Mexican Hat Twist (1962)

It's entirely possible Chubby Checker knew his time was up when Parkway released his album Twist with Chubby Checker. On the back cover he looks alarmed.

Maybe he'd seen the inner sleeve where five other of his Twist albums were advertised -- Your Twist Party with the King of Twist Chubby Checker, Don't Knock the Twist, Let's Twist Again, For Teen Twisters Only ("Adults Twist at Your Own Risk!") and For Twisters Only.

That's a lot of twist albums on the back of his hit single -- and by other acts there was also the Carroll Brothers College Twist Party and Meyer Davis Plays The Twist cashing in.

In truth though you'd have to guess it was more that Parkway knew they had a limited time to milk this cow and on Twist with Chubby Checker many of the "songs" were written by Kal Mann (the producer) and Dave Appell (the band leader). These gems came with singularly unpromising titles too: Twisting USA and The Mexican Hat Twist.

There was also Chubby covering the old r'n'b song The Hucklebuck (Chubby's version was what New Zealand's Chicks based their cover on) as well as other dance songs like The Ooh Poo Pah Doo Shimmy, the CC Rider Stroll, The Strand (written by Mann), The Chicken, The Madison and The Slop. And the Mann-Appell team weighed in also with The Pony.

No wonder Chris Kenner wrote Land of a Thousand Dances in '62.

Chubby also only made what we might call cameo appearances on some songs, as on the truly awful pastiche that is The Mexican Hat Twist.

You can't even twist to it.

Like Bill Haley before him (see here), this was a desperate album attempting to "internationalise" the patented sound and wring a few more bucks out of the Twist.

Too late. When the Beatles covered Twist and Shout they announced the end of dance crazes which, in retrospect, seemed a hangover from the Fifties.

With odd prescience the back cover of this album has emblazoned across the top "the Beginning and the End for Your Swingin' Dancin' Party". It was the end. 

Just as well.

Chubby (who now markets his own line of beef jerky among other food products), Mann and Appell wrung that hit -- which Chubby lifted from Hank Ballard almost note for note -- for all it was worth.

But regrettably some of the albums were worthless. Well, almost.

My copy of Twist with Chubby Checker on vinyl cost $3.


For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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