RCA Camden

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RCA Camden was a budget record label of RCA Victor, originally created in 1953[1] to reissue recordings from earlier 78rpm releases. The label was named "Camden", after Camden, New Jersey where the offices, factories and studios of RCA Victor and its predecessor, the Victor Talking Machine Company had been located since 1901.


RCA Victor originally created the Camden label to reissue older 78rpm Red Seal classical recordings on LP records. In the mid 1950s, RCA Camden began releasing some rhythm & blues and, later, pop, country and rock and roll recordings. For example, Camden issued a 1956 LP of Little Richard's very first recordings made for RCA Victor in 1951 and 1952, expanded with four tracks by Buck Ram and his Rock n' Ram Orchestra. In 1958, Camden released some albums in the new stereophonic format and subsequently issued popular stereo recordings by the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Living Strings and Living Voices. Camden also produced a "Designed for Dancing"[2] series, with titles by Xavier Cugat and Perez Prado, and others.

The Camden label was headed by long-time RCA Victor record producer Ethel Gabriel beginning in the late 1950s.

First releases[edit]

RCA Victor originally reissued its older 78rpm Red Seal classical symphonic recordings on the Camden label using the actual names of the symphony orchestras involved; but soon, to avoid competing with recent full-priced recordings by the same orchestras, a series of pseudonyms were used, drawn primarily from the names of hotels in nearby Philadelphia, across the Delaware River from RCA Victor's headquarters in Camden. Here is a partial listing of the real orchestras and their pseudonyms:

The RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra was assembled for recording sessions mostly during the 1940s and '50s; It primarily consisted of members from the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.[3] The New York City Symphony Orchestra, created by Leopold Stokowski in the 1940s, recorded for RCA Victor and some of its recordings were reissued on Camden LPs under the name "Sutton Symphony Orchestra," not to be confused with a British orchestra with the same name.

Later releases[edit]

In 1960, RCA Victor launched the RCA Victrola budget label to reissue lower priced classical and operatic recordings drawn from the Red Seal catalog. With a few exceptions, RCA Camden ceased reissuing former Red Seal titles and began offering many more albums by RCA Victor's pop and country music artists. In Canada, in addition to handling the U.S. releases on the label for the Canadian market, the RCA Camden imprint was also used to issue both current and compilation albums by RCA Victor Canada's country Artists. Country music sold extremely well in Canada, and RCA Camden issued a number of such albums that were never released in the United States.

From 1968 to 1975, RCA Camden issued a series of compilation albums featuring recordings by Elvis Presley, who recorded for the main RCA Victor label. These albums primarily consisted of repackagings of Presley's 1960s-era movie soundtrack recordings; some albums, such as Elvis Sings Flaming Star also featured previously unreleased material, while another album, Let's Be Friends featured most of the soundtrack to Presley's final scripted film, Change of Habit. Two later compilations, Burning Love and Hits from His Movies, Volume 2 and Separate Ways actually featured then-current chart hits for Presley, originally issued as singles on the RCA Victor label. The inclusion of these hit singles resulted in both Camden albums - which otherwise featured previously released and generally undistinguished movie and studio tracks - making the US charts. In 1975, RCA leased the reissue rights of several different Camden albums, including Presley's, to Pickwick Records, which subsequently reissued several of them under its own branding. After Presley's unexpected death in August 1977, demand for his recordings skyrocketed; RCA soon terminated the reissue agreement with Pickwick primarily to regain the rights to the Pickwick leased Presley titles, and began reissuing and repackaging several of them.

During the early- to mid-1970s, as the popularity of RCA country artist Dolly Parton, rapidly grew, RCA reissued much of her earlier material in a series of compilations on the Camden label to capitalize on her more recent success. Just the Way I Am, Mine, Just Because I'm a Woman (not to be confused with Parton's 1968 debut RCA Victor solo album of the same name), and I Wish I Felt This Way at Home were all issued between 1972 and 1976, and were largely made up of lesser known material Parton had recorded for RCA Victor during the late 1960s and early '70s. As with the Presley titles, RCA also leased the reissue rights to Parton's Camden albums to Pickwick, which reissued the albums on their own label during the late 1970s.

The RCA Camden label continued well into the compact disc era, and was still active in the UK, Canada, Australia and several other countries until at least the early 2000s. Beginning in the late 1980s, RCA/BMG of Canada reissued several Camden albums on CD in their "RCA Camden Classics" series. Sony Music, the current owner of the RCA Victor archives, continues to reissue material and albums originally issued on the RCA Camden label.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ COLLECTIBLES, Joe Stephens for YOUR KEY TO. "CAMDEN RECORD DISCOGRAPHY SECTION". yktc.us. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  2. ^ "Discogs Designed for Dancing discography". Discogs. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  3. ^ Jack Gottlieb, http://www.leonardbernstein.com; Billboard 31 Mar 1956

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