Like Weird ! (1961 - 1964 singles) - The Centuries (aka Tommy Falcone & The Centuries)

The Centuries [N.Y.C.]  »  aka Tommy Falcone & The Centuries & aka The Shoestring   

"The common link is Tommy Falcone (producer, composer and guitar player).
The Tommy Falcone & The Centuries single will, based on the cat#, be circa 1960.
The group name was then shortened to The Centuries.
Some years later The Centuries single "Jack 23" (released on Cleopatra Records) was reissued on 20th Century Fox as by The Shoestring and renamed "Shoop-De-Hoop-Twine" (publishing credit on 20th Century Fox re-issue to Cleopatra Pub Co)."

"From a basement in New Jersey, Tommy Falcone remade  himself into a "Phil Spector"... From 1962 to 1970, he founded and ran Cleopatra Records, discovered and mentored young Garden State talent, wrote songs and produced wild studio effects, and quit his day job to promote it all himself. Trained as an accordionist, Falcone had a whirlwind imagination and an omnivorous approach to genre, expressed through acts like the Centuries, the Tabbys, Johnny Silvio, the Inmates, Bernadette Carroll, the Hallmarks, Vickie & the Van Dykes, the Shandillons, Eugene Viscione, the Shoestring, and more. Cleopatra became a time-capsule of every 1960s pop style imaginable—garage rock, psychedelia, surf, girl groups, soul, novelties, exotica, even a crooner—a kaleidoscope of sound in search of the ever-elusive hit record"

"Tommy Falcone was active in New York City throughout the sixties, foremost as a music arranger and producer. Well, active is maybe an overstatement since only a handful of recordings surfaced. On the other hand, some of those, like Like Weird, are unearthly remarkable. Like Weird did not stir much commercial commotion when it was released in the summer of 1961 and it did not get much help from Billboard either that listed it as with “moderate sales potential”.

Other projects that occupied Tommy Falcone included diverse and experimental recordings as The Shoestring’s Candy Andy (bubblegum pop about a child molester), The Cracker Rapper’s first recording (doo wop), Polynesian Paradise as The Centuries (check out the B-side instrumental, Outer Limits), New Jersey garage band The Inmates and the spaced out single Heavenly with Bernadette Carroll.

For some reason, but not very surprising, Tommy Falcone’s musical career did not take off. He seems to have made a part of his living as a teacher at Red Bank School of Music. Just before he died by a heart attack back stage aged only 40 years (circa 1968), he was reported to stack records at a record store. An occupation as good as anyone."

The Centuries

Like Weird ! (1961 - 1964 singles) - The Centuries (aka Tommy Falcone & The Centuries)

The most resonant room in the Newark Public Library in 1958 was the locker room where Gary Swangin practiced his singing. Swangin, a high school student who worked part time at the checkout desk, would often sneak away during breaks to hone his technique and work on an original song, “The Promise of Love”—until he got caught. 

When coworker Salvatore Girgenti heard it echoing off the tile and steel, he was so taken that he suggested they play together. With Girgenti on rhythm guitar, they recruited the D’Amato brothers, Charles, who played drums standing up, and Peter on lead guitar. 

D’Amato’s neighbor Francis Corragio brought virtuosity to their nascent band, at first playing an amplified upright bass. Corragio had started playing at eleven years old, and by the time of the Centuries he was taking lessons from members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. 

The library would prove crucial in another way. Swangin checked people’s books and bags as they exited the building, bringing him into contact with a wide range of folks—including Cleopatra Records’ Tommy Falcone. 

By 1960, Swangin’s education at Rutgers University was taking priority and his musical ambitions were expanding.He went on to Columbia University and performed in the Greenwich Village folk scene with a far-ahead-of-its-time fusion of modern lyricism with African rhythms. 

With Swangin gone, the band took a sharp turn into new waters rough with surf—losing lyrics but compensating with invention and melody. The Centuries transformed into an instrumental rock group inspired by the space race and Polynesia, becoming Falcone’s very own version of the Ventures with whom to explore the then-burgeoning sounds of surf rock and exotica. 

The Centuries has been played on NTS in shows including The Numero Group, featured first on 26 July 2018. Songs played include Like Weird and Beach Umbrella World. 

Founded in 2003 as an archival record label by Tom Lunt, Rob Sevier, and Ken Shipley, Numero has evolved into a multi-format media company, devoted to dragging brilliant recordings, films, and photography out of unwarranted obscurity. 

"We’re on a dirty, labor-intensive mission... and it’s urgent as all hell. Time kills off precious bits of passed-over sound, story, and ephemera every day, just as fast as we can haul this sprawling archive of under-heard recordings—along with the musicians, writers, and entrepreneurs who created them—out of exile."

Like Weird ! - 1961 - 1964 singles

Like Weird ! (1961 - 1964 singles) - The Centuries (aka Tommy Falcone & The Centuries)