(Relic) 25 tracks
Les Cahan's Beltone label was a fortuitous outgrowth of his Beltone Recording Studios, located at 4 West 31st Street in Manhattan.
Cahan started his studio in 1947 and, at $20 per hour, in the fifties, offered a good deal to the street-smart independent label owners who frequently used his facility. Bobby Robinson with Red Robin and Fury, Al Silver of Herald-Ember, Ralph Perez of Ansonia, and a host of other R&B/Latin label toppers clamored for Beltone studio time in the fifties and sixties.
Cahan, trained as an electrical engineer, and Iry Greenbaum, his chief assistant, perfected a natural echo in their big room with its plaster walls. According to Cahan, the recording room was about 15' long, 8' high, and 8' wide, with a speaker at one end and a microphone at the other. The volume from the speaker and its interaction with the mike helped create the natural echo heard on many Beltone sessions.
Beltone Studios was coasting along nicely in 1960 when Cahan was approached by A.J. Gabriel and Company, an investment firm. They helped him float a public stock offering which brought him $200,000 instant capital. What to do with his new found riches? Why not start a record company?
Cahan hired Joe Rene for $150 a week to handle A&R duties, and Beltone Records was in business by the late fall of 1960. Their first release by Ritchie Adams didn't make it, but Beltone #1002 was Bobby Lewis's "Tossin' and Turnin'," recorded on December 27, 1960. According to Cahan, vet record man Jerry Shifrin persuaded Cahan and Rene to sign Bobby Lewis, arguing that Bobby's "Mumbles" could have been a big hit had it not been slightly off-color for any concentrated airplay.
"Tossin' and Turnin" sailed to #1 on Billboard's pop charts and Beltone was definitely in business.
Donn Fileti, March 1994