Born Al Albertini in Chester, Pennsylvania, he met Dave Mahoney, co-founder of the Four Aces, whilst the pair were serving in the US navy. The harmony group scored several huge hits in the 1950s including Three Coins in the Fountain (written by Jule Styne for the film of the same name: Styne also wrote the scores to a number of hit Broadway shows, including Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, Gypsy and Funny Girl), which hit the number one spot twice in the States in 1954 and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song the same year.
The Four Aces biggest hit was Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, the theme to the 1955 film starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones. Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing stayed at number one for four weeks and again won the Academy Award for best song.
Alberts left the group in 1958 to try to make it as a soloist. He issued his first album A Man Has Got To Sing, in 1959 but it – and subsequent releases – failed to chart. The Four Aces still exists today, although all four of the original members have now passed away.
After leaving the Aces, although Alberts continued to record he became better known as a television personality. He hosted a one-hour Saturday afternoon talent show in Philadelphia, called The Al Alberts Showcase, that featured a panel of local children known as the Teeny Boppers - a bunch of camera shy kids who would tell lame jokes and occasionally mangle a show tune - and a group of young teenage dancers called the Show Stoppers. The show helped launch the careers of Sister Sledge and Teddy Pendergrass and Jarrod Spector, who first appeared on the show as a precocious three year old and who went on to play the role of Frankie Valli in the stage show The Jersey Boys. The show went off the air after 32 years, following Alberts' retirement in 1994. He died at his home in Florida in November 2009.
Although undated, this particular piece of dreck – I Am A Sick American – was one of Alberts’ last single releases; the song copyrighted in the first half of 1974. The unusual writer credit - Anonymous: edited by and with new material written by Al Alberts – stems from the fact that the lyric was based on an anonymous letter sent to a newspaper. What’s interesting is that the song had been recorded some two years previously (without the Al Alberts credit and to the tune of John Brown’s Body rather than to the tune of America the Beautiful) by Frank W Morris, as the B-side to an election-boosting disc for our old friend Governor George Wallace. For more info on the Frank W Morris single - along with the artwork for the cover - check out Glorify the Turd.
Anyway, here are both sides of the Al Alberts 45 as well as the Frank W Morris track for you to compare.
**Addendum: Glorify the Turd, mentioned above, is no longer running and some of the pages may be unavailable. Here's what they wrote, along with the Frank W Morris artwork and the A-side of the single:
"Wow, I guess there must have been something going around in the early 70’s, because it looks like Frank W. Morris caught the same thing Al Alberts had. Yep, Frank is a sick American, too, but not sick enough to make the A Side of this record—that honor was given to Chuck Atha and his ode to presidential candidate George Wallace. Pretty weak stuff, too. You mean you can’t find a better song to rip off than the “Ballad Of Davy Crockett”? No, Mr. Morris does a much better job in my opinion, and he has different lyrics than the Al Alberts tirade."
* Unfortunately Divshare is down this morning, so I'm using my reserve file share system, The Box, I'll update the links once Divshare is back up and running