#947 [COMPLETE UPGRADE OF #779]

SPOTLIGHT ON THE TETRA LABEL

Includes Audio For The First Fourteen Songs Released On The Tetra Label
(Photos, Clippings, And Label Scans Restored By Tony Fournier)

"Angel Face"/"Kiss Me Quickly"
by The Neons
on Tetra 4444
released in 1956


Above: The Neons, who in this later photo of them, are (L-R) Jeff Pearl (second tenor), Ronald Derin (baritone), Norman Isacoff (bass), and Frank Vignari (first tenor). The personnel on "Angel Face" are Pearl, Vignari, John Devero, and Pat Fatibene. For their second release on Tetra, they added Nick Bernini.

From Robert Diskin (3/27/21): When the Neons recorded “Angel Face” they didn’t have a first tenor, so Frank Vignari (lead) was dubbed in as first tenor. When the Neons started performing live, Nick Bernini was brought in as first tenor. On their follow-up recording, Nick Bernini was the first tenor.



Above: Tetra Records advertisement from September 1956.


Above: Photo of Bill Flagg [Boston Globe, restored by Tony Fournier].


LISTEN to "Go Cat, Go" or the flip-side
"A Good Woman's Leavin'" or LISTEN to
BOTH SIDES (Windows Media Player).
LISTEN to "Guitar Rock" or the flip-side
"I'm So Lonely" or LISTEN to
BOTH SIDES (Windows Media Player).

Above Left: Column from The Billboard dated 8/25/56.

Above Middle: Label image for Tetra 4445, "Go Cat, Go" by Bill Flagg, released in 1956. .

Above Right: Label image for Tetra 4448, "Guitar Rock" by Bill Flagg And His Rockabillies, also released in 1956. All four of the Bill Flagg sides were composed by "Bruce-Flagg".

The Cash Box Review (9/22/56):

BILL FLAGG - TETRA 4445
Go Cat, Go (B+)
Here’s an engaging rock ’n roller, with strong all-market possibilities, that ‘rockbilly’ Bill Flagg belts out in inviting fashion. Socko instrumentation on a deck that already has action reported from several areas. Could really take off.
A Good Woman's Leavin' (B) This end the warbler waxes a rhythmic blues item that doesn’t stack up to the flip.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ is "excellent" and B is "very good".)

The Billboard Review (10/6/56):

BILL FLAGG - TETRA 4445
Go Cat, Go (73)
Flagg and his Rock-a-billies whip up a catchy rhythm ditty with commendable verse and toe-tappin' beat. Could go pop as well as C&W.
A Good Woman's Leavin' (70) Flagg warbles à la Presley, on a moving blues ballad with effective lyrics.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 70-79 as "good".)

Bill Flagg also had a release on the M-G-M label in 1958, from sides obtained from Tetra. The record label for the "I Will Always Love You" side credits "Bruce-Flagg" as composers of the song. It's a ballad featuring an uncredited vocal group backing Bill Flagg's lead singing.

THE BILLBOARD, July 14, 1958:
...Jimmy Skinner's tune, "Doin' My Time", has been injected into long-play albums by Johnny Cash and Flatt and Scruggs. It's also been cut as a single on M-G-M by Bill Flagg... (NOTE: This song was on Johnny Cash's first LP, Sun Records' "Johnny Cash With His Hot And Blue Guitar!", in 1957.)

THE CASH BOX, August 2, 1958:
...Gloria Campbell, Personal Manager for MGM Record’s Bill Flagg, notes that Bill appeared as a July 5th guest on the WWVA-Wheeling, W. Va. “Jamboree”. Bill is currently represented on wax with “Doin’ My Time”...

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Doin' My Time" - Bill Flagg - M-G-M 12637 - 1958.
2. "I Will Always Love You" - Bill Flagg - M-G-M 12637 - 1958.

BOTH ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.
ALL SIX BILL FLAGG SONGS played in sequence.



LISTEN to "Good Morning, Captain" or the flip-side
"21 Years (It Takes A Worried Man)" or LISTEN to
BOTH SIDES (Windows Media Player).

Jody (Joe D.) Gibson


Above Left: Column from The Billboard dated 12/1/56.

Above Right: Label image for Tetra 4450, "Good Morning, Captain (Muleskinner Blues)" by Joe D. Gibson, released in 1957. Jeff Pearl of The Neons says he played the “clomp clomp” instrument on Good Morning, Captain and that Joe D. Gibson played the banjo on Angel Face! I wonder if Bill Flagg played guitar on the instrumental break on Good Morning, Captain as it sounds very similar to that on "Go Cat, Go."
[NOTE: Per Joe D. Gibson's biography, it seems that it was Gibson who played guitar on "Go Cat, Go."]

TRADE MAGAZINE, March 1957:
...Monte Bruce, back from Chicago, tells us of the Chess Brothers taking over national distribution of Tetra's "Good Morning, Captain" by Joe D. Gibson...

The Billboard Review (4/6/57):

JOE D. GIBSON - TETRA 4450
Good Morning, Captain (Muleskinner Blues)
(66) A bit of Americana here. Joe Gibson captures the feeling of an earlier era as he sings this folkish blues. For jocks looking for something unusual.
21 Years (It Takes a Worried Man) (62) This side has the same flavor as the flip, but has not been recorded as well.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 as "satisfactory".)


Above: Review from The Cash Box dated 4/6/57.



At Left: Clipping from The Cash Box dated 3/30/57.

Directly Above: 78 rpm label image for Tetra 4450. Note that the 45-rpm label
(shown further up on this page) credits "Bruce-Gibson" as composers. In reality,
this song was "originally" composed by Jimmie Rodgers, who had a hit record
with it in 1930.





Above Left And Right: Clippings from The Billboard dated 9/29/56.
The label for "Go Cat, Go" shows only "Bill Flagg" as the artist. It is the label for the follow-up record "Guitar Rock" that shows "Bill Flagg And His Rockabillies".



Above: Label image for Tetra 4446, "Evening Shadows Falling" by The Seniors. This record was released in November 1956. Per Disco-File, The Seniors were a "black, male group" from Connecticut, and this was their only record. Composers shown as "Bruce-Brothers".
LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Evening Shadows Falling" - The Seniors - Tetra 4446 - 1956.
2. "I've Got Plenty Of Love" - The Seniors - Tetra 4446 - 1956.

BOTH ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.



Above: Label image for Tetra 4447. Composers shown as "Bruce-Tipton".

The next release, Tetra 4447, in December 1956, is by The Playboys, "So Good" and "One Question". Per Disco-File, this was a black, male group from Hartford, Connecticut. Also noted in Disco-file, these sides were originally recorded with the artist listed as "The Shades". It was their only record.

THE CASH BOX, January 1957:
...Monte Bruce, Tetra Records, enthusiastic about the showing of "Guitar Rock" by Bill Flagg and "So Good" by the Playboys. Bruce just concluded a deal to release his Tetra label through London in Canada...

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "So Good" - The Playboys - Tetra 4447 - 1956.
2. "One Question" - The Playboys - Tetra 4447 - 1956.

BOTH ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.




Above Left: BOSTON GLOBE, May 8, 1958: LOSE LEGAL FIGHT FOR ROCK 'N' ROLL
Alan Freed (right), disc jockey, with Monte Bruce, promoter of planned New Haven performance, shown entering court to seek injunction against city ban on rock 'n' roll. Court upheld ban. (NOTE: Monte Bruce's wife, Toni, was Alan Freed's step-daughter.)

NOTE: In the 1950's, Monte Bruce was proprietor of several record labels, including Bruce/Marble (with Morty Craft, Leo Rogers, 1953-55), Holiway (with Morty Craft, Leo Rogers, 1953), Scope (with Morty Craft, 1955), Tetra (1956-57), and Power (with Morty Craft, Leo Rogers, 1958-59).

THE CASH BOX, May 5, 1956:
...Monty Bruce, who was formerly allied with Leo Rogers and Morty Craft, tells us he is making plans to come back into the business as a manufacturer on his own. Rogers is now associated with Andrea Records and Craft with Melba Records...

THE BILLBOARD, August 18, 1956: BRUCE FORMS TETRA LABEL
NEW YORK—Monte Bruce, a former partner in the now defunct Bruce Records operation, is returning to the business with a new label, tagged Tetra Records. Bruce and his wife Toni claim to be the sole owners and operators of the new label and its affiliated Tetra Music Corporation, a pubbing firm connected with Broadcast Music, Inc. [BMI]

Already signed to the Tetra label are a rock and roll group, the Neons, and a rockabilly singer, Bill Flagg. Several distributors have been set, including Tico in New York. Bruce sold out his interest in Bruce Records and the affiliated Nuway and Belvedere publishing firms to his partner, Leo Rogers, more than a year ago.

THE CASH BOX, July 28, 1956:
...We learn that Toni Bruce, Alan Freed’s daughter, has formed a new record company, Tetra Records, and has already released her first record, “Angel Face”, by The Neons. Also just released is “Go Cat Go” by rock-a-billy Bill Flagg...

THE CASH BOX, August 18, 1956:
...Monte Bruce tells us his new label, Tetra, has gotten off to a nice start with both the Neons’ “Angel Face” and “Go Cat Go” by Bill Flagg stirring up activity in several areas. “Go Cat Go” was just picked by the teeners on Dick Clark’s “Bandstand Show” in Philly. This means Clark will give the deck heavy exposure all week...

THE CASH BOX, September 1, 1956:
...Monte Bruce seems to have come up with a couple of winners in his initial releases on his new label, Tetra. They are “Angel Face” by the Neons and “Go, Cat, Go” by Bill Flagg. Both decks have shown strong action in New York, Newark, and Philadelphia...

TRADE MAGAZINE (September 1956): ....Monte Bruce reportedly at work negotiating with the Ponds Cosmetic people to work out a national promotion tie-in with his disking of "Angel Face" by the Neons on Tetra. One of Ponds products is called "Angel Face"....

THE CASH BOX, September 22, 1956:
...Monty Bruce excitedly reports that both of his releases have been picked as “record of the week” by different jockeys. “Go Cat Go” by Bill Flagg has been picked by Buddy Dean (WITH-Baltimore) and “Angel Face” by The Neons has been chosen by Jay Perry, Arlington, Va. deejay...

THE CASH BOX, September 29, 1956:
...Monte Bruce, Tetra Records, calls in to tell us his “Go Cat Go” by Bill Flagg, has been getting such exciting reaction that it looks like it may overtake “Angel Face” as his number one record. Both decks have been building nicely...

THE BILLBOARD, August 24, 1959:
...Monte Bruce, who is managing artists and handling radio and TV production work these days in New Haven, Conn., became the father of a boy, Harry Jonathan, last week...

THE CASH BOX, September 2, 1959:
...Very Cute record the Monte Bruces are sending around, celebrating the birth of their son, Harry Jonathan. Pop's now with WNTA's "Rate The Record"...

THE BILLBOARD, August 22, 1960:
...Vet record man Monte Bruce became a father again last week, this time of a girl. Wife Toni is doing fine...

THE CASH BOX, September 3, 1960: INDEPENDENT, NEW BRUCE LABEL, TO BE HANDLED BY LAURIE
NEW YORK—Monte Bruce has just concluded a deal with Laurie Records whereby Laurie will handle the national distribution of Bruce’s new label, Independent Records. First product under the deal is an LP by guitarist Vincent Bell and His Quartet, “Soundtronic Guitar”. LP will be issued in mid-September. A single from the album, “Dance” and “Caravan”, was released last week.

Bruce is currently hitting with “Shortnin’ Bread” by Paul Chaplain (Harper), a master he picked-up which is being distributed by Bruce and George Goldner.

THE CASH BOX, June 3, 1961:
...Neptune’s general manager, Monte Bruce, thrilled with the action on Baby Washington’s “Nobody Cares”, expecting Wilbert Harrison’s “Off To Work Again”. Monte sez he cut the date on a Friday and had it out on the following Monday...

THE CASH BOX, August 5, 1961: NEPTUNE ADDS ARTISTS
NEW YORK—Monte Bruce, general manager of Neptune Records, last week announced the signing of the Spaniels and Pookie Hudson, writer and lead voice of the group that originally hit with “Goodnight Sweetheart”, “Baby, It’s You”, and “Crazy Baby”, among others. Artists’ first release couples “For Sentimental Reasons” and “Meek Man.”

Bruce also announced the formation of a new subsidiary label, Prigan Records. The debut release, titled “Once Again” and “Tell Me Why”, features Nate Nelson, former lead voice on the Flamingos’ sessions that included such hits as “I’ll Be Home”, “I Only Have Eyes For You”, “Kiss From Your Lips”, and “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do”.

Neptune, curently represented in the singles field with Baby Washington’s “Nobody Cares” and Wilbert Harrison’s “Off To Work Again”, and Prigan are also set to enter the album category in the coming weeks.

THE BILLBOARD, February 9, 1963: RADIO MAKES AN LP ROCKET
NEW YORK—When an unknown album on an unknown label sells more than 50,000 sets in less than 60 days through radio exposure alone, that's news. The news was made by the Mark -Fi label, through a successul radio spot mail-order campaign set up by vet record man Monte Bruce of the Metlis Lebow Agency in New York. The album, which contains 20 oldie rock and roll hits, retailed for $2.98.

Bruce set up the radio spot campaign in 20 U. S. cities, including such key markets as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston. Key jocks were used on key stations of many types, including Top 40, rock and roll, and r.&b.

More and more firms have been using radio spots to sell albums. Original Sound, pioneer label in the oldies but goodies groove, also pioneered in using radio for old rock and roll wax, and has been eminently successful with it. Recently, many other labels have gone on big radio campaigns with striking results.

Bruce's campaign for Mark-Fi, however, is slightly different in that the records were sold by mail order after the orders came in as a result of radio spots. Bruce told Billboard that radio and TV exposure was still a virgin market for LP sales, and that he was planning new campaigns for other labels using radio exclusively.




Above: Label image of Tetra 4444 recorded on 6/1/56 and released in June 1956. "Angel Face" was reissued on the Gone label in 1960. On the flip, notice the "Frankie!" (referring to lead singer Frank Vignari), done by Toni Bruce, near the beginning of the song. The excellent sax work is by Buddy Lucas. Jeff Pearl claims that Monte Bruce named the label after The Neons... "Neon Tetra" is a popular aquarium fish.

The Neons had one more release on Tetra (4449) in March 1957, "Road To Romance" and "My Chickadee".
Composers on all four of The Neons' sides are "Bruce-Vignari-Pearl".

LISTEN (Windows Media Player):
1. "Road To Romance" - The Neons - Tetra 4449 - 1957.
2. "My Chickadee" - The Neons - Tetra 4449 - 1957.

BOTH ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.

The Billboard Review (9/8/56):

THE NEONS - TETRA 4444
Angel Face
(69) The ingredients of this rhythm-ballad are familiar r&b elements, but a good job by the lead and the bouncy beat compensate for the lack of originality. Teenagers will have no trouble responding.
Kiss Me Quickly (67) The boys turn to a similarly styled piece of material here. They work hard and are not entirely unsuccessful in breathing life into the cliche-ridden material.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 as "satisfactory".)

The Cash Box Review (9/22/56):

THE NEONS - TETRA 4444
Angel Face (B+)
The Neons make their debut with a quick beat ballad blues, that has already created excitement in the New York, Philly, Newark areas and other local territories. The group chants the romantic story with a rocking treatment.
Kiss Me Quickly (C+) Another romantic novelty quick beat that comes off a light and airy effort.
(NOTE: A rating of B+ is "excellent" and C+ is "good".)

TETRA RECORDS DISCOGRAPHY

The Tetra label did quite well for just eight releases and an existence of less than one year!

TETRA #
4444
4445
4446
4447
4448
4449
4450
4451

MATRIX #'s
377A/377B
378A/378B
T-380A/T-380B
MB-379A/MB-379B
MB-381A/MB-381B
382A/382B
383A/383B
384A/384B

ARTIST NAME
The Neons
Bill Flagg
The Seniors
The Playboys
Bill Flagg And His Rockabillies
The Neons
Joe D. Gibson
Good Buddy And His Rockin' Band [Buddy Lucas]

SONG TITLES
Angel Face/Kiss Me Quickly
Go Cat, Go/A Good Woman's Leavin'
Evening Shadows Falling (I Think Of You)/I've Got Plenty Of Love
So Good/One Question
Guitar Rock/I'm So Lonely
Road To Romance/My Chickadee
Good Morning, Captain/21 Years (It Takes A Worried Man)
Rockin' With The Duke/The Kent's Rock [Instrumentals]

RELEASED
1956
1956
1956
1956
1956
1957
1957
1957


LISTEN to this week's selections on THE TETRA LABEL (Windows Media Player):

          1. Angel Face - The Neons - Tetra 4444 - 1956 (Audio Restoration By Dave Saviet)
          2. Kiss Me Quickly - The Neons - Tetra 4444 - 1956 (Audio Restoration By Dave Saviet)
          3. Go Cat, Go - Bill Flagg - Tetra 4445 - 1956
          4. A Good Woman's Leavin' - Bill Flagg - Tetra 4445 - 1956
          5. Evening Shadows Falling - The Seniors - Tetra 4446 - 1956
          6. I've Got Plenty Of Love - The Seniors - Tetra 4446 - 1956
          5. So Good - The Playboys - Tetra 4447 - 1956
          8. One Question - The Playboys - Tetra 4447 - 1956
          9. Guitar Rock - The Neons - Tetra 4444 - 1956
        10. I'm So Lonely - Bill Flagg And His Rockabillies - Tetra 4448 - 1956
        11 Road To Romance - The Neons - Tetra 4449 - 1957
        12 My Chickadee - The Neons - Tetra 4449 - 1957
        13. Good Morning, Captain - Joe D. Gibson - Tetra 4450 - 1957
        14. 21 Years (It Takes A Worried Man) - Joe D. Gibson - Tetra 4450 - 1957
        15. Doin' My Time - Bill Flagg - M-G-M 12637 - 1958 (From Tetra Master)
        16. I Will Always Love You - Bill Flagg (With Vocal Group) - M-G-M 12637 - 1958 (From Tetra Master)
 
         ALL SIXTEEN ABOVE SONGS played in sequence.
 
         ALL FOURTEEN SONGS ON TETRA LABEL played in sequence.

         [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]


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