Friday, 4 January 2013

Sweet Angelina


Happy 2013 everybody! To kick off my seventh year of blogging, here’s a fun little thing I picked up recently on Ebay: Sweet Angelina by Mister “G” and the Joe Menen Trio.

 
This 45, which appears to date from 1958, was issued by the Gira record label, based in Rutherford, New Jersey. Started as little more than a vanity project in 1953, all of the early releases on Gira were written by the company’s owner Nicholas Joseph Gilio and issued exclusively as 78s, most of which were marked ‘not for sale’ or similar. The artist on the majority of these early releases was Jo Ann Lear, a jobbing singer who also cut sides for another New Jersey-based custom/vanity/song-poem outfit, the appropriately named Vanity records, which debuted in 1952.

 
By the time Gira began to produce 45s it seems like Nick Gilio had gotten into the song-poem game: every song on every disc I’ve discovered so far (apart from one, written and performed by Harold Bailey and the Country Drifters) was co-written by Gilio and another songwriter, and several of them were performed by Mister “G” – a paper-thin pseudonym for Nicholas Gilio himself.
 

Shades of Lew Tobin or Ted Rosen methinks. Or perhaps Norridge Mayhams? For, like Norris the Troubadour, Nicholas Gilio had one brief stab at fame – when he managed to get several of his songs recorded by the actress and singer Lorry Raine: she released Laugh, Laugh, Laugh and Gi-Gi-Gi-Gira Con Me on Dot in 1955 and also recorded his compositions What Would I Do? (issued as the B-side of her 45 Love Me Tonight, also on Dot; put out by London in the UK) and I'll Tell the World I Love You, issued by Advance Records in 1956. What Would I Do was also featured, performed by Raine, in the short film Champ Butler Sings. Incidentally, the Advance company that issued the Lorry Raine?Nick Gilio 78 was not the same as the song-poem outfit run by Lee Hudson; this particular company was run by Lorry's manager, Tim Gayle.

Gilio had been trying to get his songs recorded for at least a decade when Dot bit, but his brief period working with Lorry Raine appears to have been the sole source of his mainstream success. Old Nick certainly didn't mind spending money in his effort to find fame, paying for half page adverts in Billboard to promote his releases and clearly not stinting on the arrangements for his productions. But that voice! How could anyone have ever believed that Nick had the makings of a hit vocalist? 
 

If anyone has any further info on Nicholas Gilio or the Gira company I’d love to know more. I'm aware that he also ran the rather grandly-named Gilio School of Music in Rutherford, and that between 1963-67 Gilio Music sponsored the Rutherford Little League team but that's about it. Still, for now, enjoy Sweet Angelina by Mister “G” and the Joe Menen Trio.
 

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