Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, by Eddie Calvert (his 2nd of two #1s)
4 weeks, from 27th May to 24th June 1955
And so, for the second time in chart history, two versions of the same song take their turn at the top. It’s not quite as dramatic as David Whitfield and Frankie Laine replacing one another with ‘Answer Me’ back in November 1953 (and then completing the ’50s chart bingo board by tying for the number one slot), but still.
You do have to wonder, once again, why people needed multiple versions of the same song. Was it a case of people buying every version of ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’ going because they really loved the song? Or was it Team Perez Vs Team Eddie? As far as I’m concerned, there should only have been one winner…
This is the knock-off version, the Poundland version, the 2-bit ringtone version… you get the idea. It is the same tune: the same notes and rhythm without any of the oomph of Prado’s version. Calvert is trying all the same tricks, even doing the same drawn-out, low then high, note that Billy Regis did to such giddy effect on the original. (I know they are contemporaneous, but the Prado version will from now on be ‘the original’ to me) Even Calvert’s trumpet sounds different, reedy, not up to the task. Why on earth this lasted twice as long at number one is a mystery.
But… maybe it shouldn’t be. Calvert was British, for a start, not some moustachioed Cuban. And everything about this record that I’m filing in the ‘Against’ column – the fact that it’s a bit restrained, a bit stiff, a bit less raunchy – probably actually explains this version’s greater success. Calvert was from Preston, and he certainly did not go ‘Huh!’, ‘Ooh!’ and ‘Aah!’ during his records. Respectable households could drop this disc on to the gramophone after Sunday lunch safe in the knowledge that grandma wouldn’t be requiring the smelling salts.
There is a section, towards the end of this version, in which Calvert goes a little wild and takes it away from Prado’s version, which is commendable, but no. The ending of this version, in particular, is a complete damp squib. It’s not an awful #1 – a good tune is a good tune – but Perez Prado just did so much more with it. We won’t be hearing from Eddie Calvert again in this countdown, I’m not terribly sad to say. He burned brightly, but briefly, and didn’t have an awful lot of singles chart success beyond 1955.
It’s worth also noting here that we are in the midst of a film/musical soundtrack run here: two versions of ‘Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White’, which featured in the Jane Russell movie ‘Underwater!’, as well as Tony Bennett’s Broadway hit ‘Stranger in Paradise’ sandwiched between. I suppose it would be hard to downplay the role cinemas had in influencing music buying tastes in the 1950s. Very few people owned a TV set, radio barely played any chart music… Films were one of the few places where people could actually hear current, popular music. Get your song in a film and hey presto! And it’s a trick that still works to this day.