Rhino Records May Issue Re-Engineered Day Album

TIMES POP MUSIC CRITIC

Given the avalanche of "best of" CD reissues in recent years, there's got to be a collection of Bobby Day recordings on the market, right?

Don't bet on it.

Day's lively, good-natured "Rockin' Robin" was one of the most celebrated hits of the '50s--a record so infectious that Michael Jackson and his Motown mentors turned to it again in 1972 as the second single in the teen-age singer's solo career.

In addition, Day--who was born Robert James Bryd in Ft. Worth, Tex. and died of cancer last week in Los Angeles at the age of 60--was also involved as singer and/or songwriter with several other classic R&B;/rock singles.

Among them: "Buzz Buzz Buzz" (a Top 10 R&B; hit for Day's group the Hollywood Flames in 1957), "Little Bitty Pretty One" (a Top 10 pop hit the same year for Thurston Harris) and "Over and Over."

Still, there is no "best of" Day album available in CD even though 14 of Day's recordings--including his versions of all the above tunes--were contained in a 1984 album that was released on vinyl by Rhino Records, the premier U.S. reissue label.

The reason Rhino hasn't reissued the album in CD is a combination of limited interest in the original vinyl album and the unavailability of master tapes of Day's recording sessions, said James Austin, a member of Rhino's artists and repertoire staff.

"When the (vinyl) album was put together, the original master tapes were not available so the company had to turn to old 45s (singles) and the quality wasn't always the greatest," he said this week.

"When Rhino started getting into CD and the increased sound quality demands, the decision was to concentrate on albums where we had good sound quality rather than transfer all the albums--such as the Day album--to CD."

Thanks to improvements in technology, it's now possible to "clean up" vinyl recordings considerably, but it's expensive by reissue standards. So, the decision to now transfer Day into CD apparently depends on whether there is sufficient interest in such an album, Austin said. Sales on the 1984 vinyl album were described as slow.

Ironically, the news reports and tributes about Day following the singer-songwriter's death may generate that interest. (Services are scheduled for Saturday at the Angelus Funeral Home, 3875 Crenshaw Blvd.)

"If we get enough interest from fans, we would love to put a Bobby Day album in CD," Austin said. Anyone interested in encouraging Rhino to move forward with a Bobby Day CD can write Austin in care of the company at 2225 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica 90404.

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