“Stranded in the Jungle” by the Jayhawks came up in the shuffle the other day, and I got to wondering why I wound up with their version, and not that other one by the Cadets, or that other other one by the Gadabouts — because none of them corresponded exactly to my late-Fifties memory of the song.
So I did my darnedest to visualize the 45 label, which turned out not to be Flash (Jayhawks) or Modern (Cadets) or Mercury (Gadabouts), but an anonymous cover label called “18 Top Hits,” so named because they were packaged three to a bag, three songs to an EP side, no artist ever mentioned. I have no idea who did their version of “Stranded in the Jungle,” though that recording was pretty much steam-cleaned and pushed a couple of notches toward pop, away from R&B. (Which may explain why I wound up with the Jayhawks recording, which is pretty hard R&B despite its hilarious premise.) The arrangement, I recall, was closer to that used on the Cadets disc, though the vocals were whiter than white, whiter than Pat Boone’s shoes, and in a Pat-erific move, the line in the last verse about “the man ain’t no good” was rendered grammatically correct.
I remember exactly one other “18 Top Hits” recording, a cover of “Mutual Admiration Society,” from the 1956 musical Happy Hunting, on which Teresa Brewer had the hit.