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As mentioned above, any one of us can turn on the radio to an oldies station and hear ? and the Mysterians at any given time. But for serious audiophiles like myself - we need to take it further. Owning great recordings is a hobby of mine and many others, and in the quest for great music - obtaining ? and the Mysterians' "96 Tears" is one of the biggest struggles. None of their material seems to exist on CD , compilation or not. Nothing at all. This seems odd considering that they had more than one successful single, and keeping in mind that "96 Tears" hit number one nationally in 1966. So, why hasn't it appeared on any of the huge number of "60's Hits" comps or even Billboard's 1966 comp? There is a logical explanation, although it may not seem all so logical to those who would just about kill to have this recording at their fingertips to listen to whenever it strikes their fancy. Read on.
When the initial pressing of the "96 Tears/Midnight Hour" 45 was released in a limited 750 copy batch on the home grown
Michigan label Pa-Go-Go number 102, it quickly gained local radio play and developed a strong following. As the requests
increased for this song, ? and the Mysterians agreed to sign on to the Cameo-Parkway label. The 45 was re-issued on the
Cameo-Parkway label in 1966 and reached national notoriety in that same year.
In 1967 the Cameo-Parkway label was having somewhat serious financial troubles. They had reported losses for the past 3
fiscal years ended 30th June 1967. In July 1967 Mr. Allen Klein acquired a controlling interest in the corporation. Following
his acquisition, the price of the stock of Cameo-Parkway rose considerably. On 16th September 1968 a special meeting of the
stockholders of Cameo-Parkway approved the acquisition by Cameo-Parkway of the assets and liabilities of Allen Klein & Co.,Inc.
In February 1969, the name of Cameo-Parkway was changed to ABKCO Industries Inc. ("ABKCO"). with Mr. Klein being president and
director of the new company. Although ? and the Mysterians had long since broke from the Cameo-Parkway label by 1969, the
company still owned the rights to both their full length albums and much of their earlier recorded material.
The name Allen Klein may bring to your mind memories of lawsuits and accusations by another group which gained a slightly
larger following than ? and the Mysterians. Yes, I'm speaking of the Beatles - whose dealings with Mr. Klein brought them
plenty of grief.
Artists on the Cameo-Parkway label included not only ? and the Mysterians, but other names such as : Bobby Rydell, the Orlons,
and Chubby Checker. All of this material is controlled by Mr. Allen Klein of ABKCO Records, and he has not yet released it.
Why? Ask him!
So, we come to a long winded conclusion to an easy question. Allen Klein is the owner of this material, and he has not yet
released any of it. You have to wonder if he sits back in his big house and pops on the original acetate of "96 Tears" while he
has a drink or two...who knows. All that is sure is that this material has not yet been cleaned up and re-released in 31 years,
and there is nothing to give us hope that it ever will. With that realization, desperation may set in. However, don't get too
uptight. As you move into the next paragraph you will soon see that all hope is not lost.
So - the next question that should pop into your mind should be "How does the radio play '96 Tears' if Allen Klein hasn't released it?" Well, I admit - that's a pretty good question. If you listen, it's obviously a CD source that's played on the radio. Where did it come from, how did they get it? Again, all good questions. Although it seems hopeless - it is not. Both of ? and the Mysterians' full length albums are available on CD. That's right, they sure are. The releases are what collectors tend to call "grey market releases," meaning that they are not quite legitimate, or licensed - but they are not quite bootlegs either. The cd's are all pressed in Europe, where some countries copyright laws are significantly less strict than others. The CD's are of decent quality though, they are straight digital transfers of the original albums from very clean vinyl sources with almost no notable surface noise. There is also a radio play 5 song disc that is available. There is one catch, since these discs are not true licensed releases - they can be very pesky to locate.
If you'd like some advice on just exactly where you may be able to locate copies of these discs, please feel free to drop me
an e-mail. You'll find my address on the home page of my "96 Tears" site! Just click the logo at the top of this page!