Songs Performed By The "Original Artists"?

Many years ago, cheap pop msice albums were advertised in TV-they featured songs by the Rolling Stones, Beatles, etc.-except the music was actually done by studio groups (AKA 'The Original Artists").
Obviosly, this was done to avoid paying royalties-was this practice ruled illegal?
Some of the msic was actually quite good-I could not tell the difference, in some cases (“The Buckinhams” vs “The Spads”).

You’re mixed up. The “original artists” line was used in contrast with albums of covers.

It’s not illegal if the names of the actual performers are used.

If you use the name of someone who doesn’t actually perform on the recording, it’s a violation of the Lanham Act, and probably several state laws as well.

The ones by “original artists” were compilations of existing songs, like the “Now That’s What I Call Music” series today.

There were some knockoff albums of recent hits done by a cover band. In those cases, the names of the groups were not mentioned. If you looked closely, you’d see in small print words like “Performed by the Groovy Band.”

In both cases, the producers were required to pay the artists. The cost might be less if they used a house band, since you’d just have to pay ASCAP fees; using the actual songs would require an additional payment to the record company/artists. People caught on to the “Groovy Band” scam very quickly and learned to buy the albums with the names of the artists on it, so the money saved only meant far worse sales. The practice seemed to die out by the mid-70s.

No, it’s true. There’s also a manufacturing city just outside of Tapei called “Usa.” That’s where about 80% the MADE IN USA stuff comes from. Hand to god.

Maybe I’m being whooshed, but:

As I recall, there were music albums that were cover versions of popular songs. The advertisements conveniently left out the fact that they were cover versions. People generally didn’t fall for the ploy. Some company got the idea to name the cover band “The Original Artists,” but it was quickly deemed to be deceptive. The tale may be apocryphal, though.

I remember coming across several such compilation albums in the 90’s, with current (90’s) pop music. Actually, my college roommate bought one by mistake and when he popped it in the CD player back in the dorm we heard these lame cover versions of all the songs. We teased him about it for a long time, and I was always very careful to look for the artist listings whenever I bought a compilation album after that.

I’ve heard the tale as well, but I agree that either it never happened or if it did happen it was quickly shut down for obvious deceptive practices.

Here’s an album from 1972 that used “Original Artists” in the title, and they weren’t covers.

You sometimes would see pseudo-cover albums of re-recordings by whoever still owned the names to the bands, and one or two members of the band, but not the original recordings. They often were cheap and poor sounding albums and that may be the source of the urban legend.

Yeah, that is how I think of “Original Artist” albums too. A lot of them were cranked out by K-Tel. Often they were done by bands who had signed crappy contracts in the 1950s or 60s who got little or no royalties for their original record sales. So you find a few Troggs, or a Grass Root or two, thrown them into a studio with some session guys and crank through the hits in a day or two. The end result is basically like hearing a cover band that happens to have a few of the original members in it.

Ones done in the 70s and 80s often sounded “too new” - overproduced, or using synths. Somewhere along the way I bought a cheap “Sam and Dave” tape that was re-recordings. It sounded bright and soulless - two sins compared to the original Stax recordings.

Back in the Seventies, I used to see commercials for compilation albums of current hits… and the name I usually saw for the “group” that recorded those albums was The Sound Effects.

You still see this with cheap box sets. (Wal-Mart seems to be the most popular place to buy these.) I agree, it’s annoying when you find out you’ve been had.

Same here–one of my college friends bought an album called “The Sounds of Jimi Hendrix”, and didn’t notice in the fine print, until he got home, that it was by a lame cover group called Foxy Experience. We never let him hear the end of it.

Regarding K-Tel, during the “golden age” (if there was such a thing) of K-tel in the 1970’s, so far as I know, all of their albums were legit. They were usually lame songs, but at least they were the original recordings by the original artists.

According to this web site,

So it sounds like the shit started later, but the heavily promoted '70’s compilations were legit.

I was going to mention this as well, because I often look for boxed sets of blues music in places like FYE, and I’ve found out the easy way to read the fine print. But I’ve also bought my share of crappy CDs by the likes of T-Bone Walker – the songs were rerecorded in Paris in the 70s or someplace, and weren’t recorded (or played) very well.

This also reminds me of a story in a local mag-it seems a guy in Detroit bought up the names of a lot of 50’s and 60’s rock/blues groups.
He now sets up studio bands under the old names, and sends them on tours (tapping the nostalgia market). In many cases, none of the original members are included.-it just doesn’t seem honest to me.

In the late 90s, it was common for hit songs that weren’t released as singles to be quickly covered by studio musicians. They released these covers under names similar to the original acts. For example, “Walking on the Sun” would be released by Smack (original by Smash Mouth). It still happens with acts who refuse to release individual songs to Itunes. I even read an article in Spin magazine a couple of years ago about the knockoff cover phenomenom.

Here’s the article I was talking about.

Some states have tried to outlaw that under “Truth in Music” laws, advocated by Bowzer from Sha-Na-Na.

Recent court decisions suggest that such laws might be violations of the First Amendment and the Lanham Trademark Act.

(See Singer Management Consultants Inc. v. Milgram, No. 09-2238 (3d Cir. August 5, 2010))

When I did my show at the college radio station, I learned to like compilation albums because I could get a lot of songs without having to pay for whole albums. I also learned to look closely to make sure that I was buying original songs and not some cheesy knockoffs.

Here’s a commercial for a 1976 compilation, the commercial bills it as “18 Golden Hits by the original Sound Effects.

For that matter, Pete Best put together a band who released an album called Best of the Beatles.