The Legends of the Rocking Dutchman - episode 56

Uptempo vocal groups

This transcript of the radio show is an approximation of what I said in the show. The real spoken parts may differ slightly.

Uptempo vocal groups for today, a kind of fifties music that I don't play that often, but vocal groups stayed immensely popular while the rock 'n roll craze went on and the doo-wop still has a following that is much larger than for the kind of Rhythm & Blues that I usually play. So I hope there's something you like in today's selection.

And I start with Little Clydie and the Teens, and singer Clydie King was only thirteen years old when she recorded this in 1956 for the RPM label. In the sixties she became a notable session artist singing background vocals for many artists, including three years in Ray Charles' Raelettes and furthermore, for the Rolling Stones, Linda Ronstadt and many others. Listen to her very first single, the flip of A Casual Look, here is Oh Me.

01 - Little Clydie & The Teens - Oh Me
02 - Flairs - Tell Me You Love Me

From 1953 the Flairs on the label that bore their name, Flair, with Tell me you love me. The group started as the Debonaires as a high school vocal group like so many of them, and they were noted by the Bihari brothers of the Modern label. They were put on the Flair subsidiary that by then mostly consisted of country & western music, and Joe Bihari suggested their names to be changed into the Flairs. The group agreed, realizing that being named after the label, they would probably be pushed with more effort.

This song, Tell me you love me, was the flip of You Should Care For Me and it was actually a re-recording, because they had recorded it a year before, for John Dolphin's Recorded in Hollywood label, a badly sounding effort that went nowhere, and that under the name of the Hollywood Bluejays. That name was invented by Dolphin and he had used it before for another vocal group that he had recorded, a few months earlier.

Next a group that started in 1947 and they had a few releases when they signed with the Jubilee label in 1953. This is the flip of their last single for that label, Good Old 99 about an unfortunate bet on the horses. Jubilee didn't renew their contract at the end of the year, and the group split up after some trouble with their new baritone singer Billy Greyeyes.

Listen to the Marylanders with Good Old 99.

03 - Marylanders - Good Old 99
04 - Locos - Professor Loco


05 - Del Rios & The Bearcats - Lizzie
06 - Aladdins - Munch

And another west coast group that was named after the label where they'd signed up - the Aladdins with Munch. Before they were known as the Capris but they never fulfilled the expectation that Aladdin boss Eddie Mesner had from them, and they disbanded by the end of 1956. Before that you got the Del Rios with The Bearcats and Lizzie and then I haven't told you yet what was before the jingle - that were the Locos with Professor Loco.

Next the outcome of a bizarre adventure that is told in Marv Goldberg's Rhythm & Blues Notebook - one of the best sources of information on vocal groups out on the web. We start in Columbus, OH with a group named the Four Dukes and at some time they decided to try their luck in California and so they took the trip down route 66, singing on their way in trading posts and Elk's clubs to earn money for gas and food.

Well the car broke down somewhere in the desert and three of the Dukes hitchhiked down to Pasadena leaving the owner of the car behind. They got themselves in a boarding house in town and when finally the last Duke arrived, he got into a fight with he others and left the group. That is where Otis Lee, singer of local group the Cobras came in to join them, and he brought them to Art Rupe of Specialty records, and they recorded some sides. They also backed up Lloyd Price on his Chee-Koo Baby, that is, they were dubbed over the master while Price was in the army.

Art Rupe ordered the recordings to be done again, he apparently wasn't satisfied with the result, and shortly after that one of the Dukes decided to return to Ohio because his mother had died, and the whole group went with him. During their five-month stay in Pasadena they hadn't done a single gig anywhere, they'd earned some money with playing on street corners and fortunately they weren't charged for the rent.

Listen to the Dukes with Ooh-Bop-She-Bop.

07 - Dukes - Ooh-Bop-She-Bop
08 - Gene & Eunice - I Gotta Go Home

From 1955 Gene and Eunice with I gotta go home on Aladdin. Their first hit Ko Ko Mo was an instant classic, covered by many artists, though because of a fight between Aladdin and Combo records over the ownership of the song and the duo, they didn't see much of the royalties of it. They were a couple together, married and had seven children. With their Caribbean-inspired Bom Bom LuLu they had a big hit in Jamaica, which led to a re-issue of most of their records on the island, and their music is now seen as an often overlooked but important contribution to the development of reggae.

Next from the Jubilee label in 1953 the Orioles with Dem Days Are Gone Forever.

09 - Orioles - Dem Days (Are Gone Forever)
10 - Du Droppers - You're Mine Already

From 1955 on the Groove subsidiary of RCA, the Du Droppers with You're Mine Already, the flip of I Wanna Love You. The Du Droppers were, compared to most vocal groups consisting of teenagers, veterans in music, all of them in their mid-forties.

Next a pretty unique vocal duo, not in the least that they were openly gay and that was something you didn't show these days. On the Herald label, from 1957 this is Sweet Thing.

11 - Charlie & Ray - Sweet Thing
12 - Gay Poppers - I want to know

And from a gay duo to the Gay Poppers - a name that you woudn't give to a vocal group nowadays. From 1960 on Fire the flip of I've Got It, that was I want to know.

Next from 1956 on Capitol the Five Keys with That's right and of course they were one of the major and most influential vocal groups of the fifties. The flip of Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind - here is That's Richt.

13 - Five Keys - That's Right
14 - Five Echoes - Broke
15 - Five Stars - Ooh Shucks

More groups of five - the Five echoes with Broke and the Five Stars with Ooh Shucks and that was from 1957 on the Mark-X label.

Next the Jive Bombers with lead singer Clarence Palmer. Their first single with Savoy was Bad Boy, their remake of Lil Armstrong's 1936 blues Brown Gal and Palmer had recorded it before as Brown Boy in 1949 on Coral under the name of Al Sears and the Sparrows.

Palmer first tried his pretty bizarre scat singing on Bad Boy that became quite a hit, and used this on all his subsequent releases with the Jive Bombers. You can qualify that style as either unique or annoying - I must say I have sympathy for either. Well I'm going to play the flip of Bad Boy - When Your Hair Has Turned To Silver and that's the only one not having that. And for one thing, hearing this, without his vocal antics his music could have gone pretty much unnoticed.

16 - Jive Bombers - When Your Hair Has Turned To Silver
17 - Nappy Brown & The Gibralters - My Baby Knows

From 1959 on Savoy that were Nappy Brown & The Gibralters with My Baby Knows and that was pretty much at the end of his very succesful time with Savoy records. We've heard nothing from him from then until the mid-eighties when he had a comeback, again very succesful. There's remarkably little information on what he did in the three decades in between. An article in the New York Times tells that he sang gospel and worked - really - as a circus elephant handler among other jobs.

Next the Clovers, the succesful Atlantic records group though the record company only got interested in them when they realized that they had to step into the market of the vocal groups, after the success of The Dominoes with Clyde McPhatter. Here is their 1953 hit Hey Miss Fannie.

18 - Clovers - Hey Miss Fannie
19 - Frankie & The Echoes - Come Back Baby
20 - Charlie White & The Playboys - Honey Bun

And not often I manage to squeeze 20 songs in an hour, but from the mid-fifties songs were remarkably short: two and a half minute was pretty long, most just made two minutes while in the 78 era most songs played near three minutes. You heard Charlie White & The Playboys with Honey Bun and before that Frankie & The Echoes with Come Back Baby.

And I hope you liked today's selection and the stories that went with them, a lot of them came from Marv Goldberg's Rhythm & Blues notebook, a very well-documented site, mostly on vocal groups of the fifties. Well if you want to provide me some feedback there's my e-mail address and of course you can also read back what I told you today, or review the playlist on my web site. Do a google search for the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman and my site will show up first. As for now time's up so I hope to see you next time here on the Legends of the Rocking Dutchman. And for now - have a rocking day.