Dell Rat Ron is back to join me in playing the sweet, sincere vocal group harmonies of the baby boom years, recordings that respectfully celebrated young love and romance without playing the sex card.
Ron, if you don't mind,
I'd like to do the honors
and kick off Volume 5.
Sheila Ross and her Baltimore girl group the Royalettes sounded like the female equivalent of Little Anthony and
the Imperials. That's because their recordings were written and produced by Teddy Randazzo, the New York songwriter who penned many songs for the Imperials and produced and arranged several of their albums. The Royalettes achieved their biggest hit in the fall of 1965 with "It's Gonna Take a Miracle." In spite of its mid 60s release date the record has the feel of vintage 50s doo-wop. Teddy Randazzo arranged a full orchestral backing for the recording session. When there are strings attached I usually tune out, but not this time! I could listen to "It's Gonna Take a Miracle" all day every day. If I'm lyin' I'm dyin'!
"It's Gonna Take a Miracle" - Royalettes (September 1965,
highest chart position #41)
Ron, I got a sneak preview of your first platter. Call me crazy but it also sounds a heck of a lot like Little Anthony and the Imperials!
And for good reason, Shady.
Listening to Jackie and the
Starlites in Volume 1 of
Dueling Doo-Wops brought
this record to mind. It's by
a Brooklyn group originally
known as The Chesters aka
Anthony and The Chesters.
It was Little Anthony and the
Imperials before they changed
their name, signed with End
Records, and recorded their
first hit "Tears On My Pillow."
As The Chesters, Anthony
Gourdine and his colleagues
recorded the excellent ballad "The Fires Burn No More"
and released it in early 1958. The single enjoyed moderate
sales in the New York area and was featured on WEEP
radio in Pittsburgh. For some reason, possibly inadequate
promotion by their label, Apollo, the record stalled and
remained uncharted. I'm sure Jerre knows this one. It
wasn't as frequently requested--- but always a treat.
"The Fires Burn No More" - The Chesters (February 1958,
Now we switch from The Chesters to The Jesters and
another record that was requested probably every week
on the Rock 180 Club and which was also in the old
Dell jukebox. It's a Jerre song called "The Wind."
"The Wind" - The Jesters (June 1960, highest chart
Is it just my
Ron... or did
just whiz by
in a T-Bird?
Call this next segment Heaven Up in Harlem, Ron, because I've got more information about the Jesters plus two more of their records. While performing at an Apollo Theater amateur night, the group was discovered by Paul Winley who signed them to his New York record label. The Jesters did a fine job of covering the recordings of other groups. "The Wind," the wonderful ballad that you just played, was originally recorded by the Diablos. "The Plea" was written by Arlene Smith and turned into a hit by her girl group the Chantels.
"The Plea" - The Jesters (February 1958, highest chart
The Jesters' recording of "So Strange," a worthy cover of a Five Dollars original, spent just one week on the Billboard pop chart at position #100 and never showed up on the R&B singles chart! So strange, indeed!
"So Strange" -The Jesters (July 1957, highest chart
The Paragons were another fine R&B group that recorded for Paul Winley. The Brooklyn act was led by Julian McMichael who later joined the Olympics. Paragons recordings have an otherworldly quality that puts me into a trance. A great example is the powerful ballad "Florence," the B side of the Paragons' 1957 release "Hey Little School Girl."
"Florence" - The Paragons (March 1957, uncharted)
"Twilight" is the killer bee on the back of the 1958 Winley single "The Vows of Love" which, curiously, was misprinted on the label as "The Wows of Love." With it's soaring falsetto, exquisite group harmony and pounding beat, "Twilight" is simply everything that doo-wop should be!
"Twilight" - The Paragons (October 1958, uncharted)
A Winley Records' battle-of-the-bands style album entitled The Paragons Meet the Jesters is noteworthy for being one of the first compilation albums ever released. It was also the most successful of all doo-wop compilations. If I was judging these two excellent groups in a head to head competition I'd declare the Paragons the winners and their recording "Don't Cry Baby" as my Pick to Click!
"Don't Cry Baby" - The Paragons (November 1958,
Nine years after Tony Bennett released the first hit recording of the song, three years before Bobby Vinton turned it into a #1 smash, and long before director David Lynch used it as the theme of his cult movie, the Paragons recorded a version of "Blue Velvet" that sets the bar higher. As one YouTube commenter exclaimed, "THEY TORE THIS APART AND PUT IT BACK TOGETHER LIKE NO OTHER GROUP!" I agree. I ain't never heard nuthin' like this before! It destroys!
"Blue Velvet" - The Paragons (September 1960,
highest chart position #103)
Ready for a shocker? Not a single one of the records released by the Jesters or the Paragons ever made the R&B Singles chart! The Jesters, a fine R&B group from Harlem and the Paragons, a superb R&B act from Brooklyn - and neither group was acknowledged by the black music chart? What does that tell you about the credibility of that survey?
Ron, tossing back to you, pal!
AND THE HI-LITES
Shady, in Volume 3 you featured the
Philadelphia group Little Joey and the
Flips and their single "Bongo Stomp"
which was released on Joy Records.
Your post made me flash on Ronnie
and the Hi-Lites, another group that
had a hit single on that small, inde-
pendent New York label. Fronted
by 12-year-old Ronnie Goodson
and hailing from Jersey City, NJ,
the R&B vocal quintet placed two
of their records at #1 on WSBA,
the first of which was their only career hit "I Wish That
We Were Married".
"I Wish That We Were Married" - Ronnie and the Hi-Lites
(May 1962, highest chart position #16)
While "Married" was their only charted hit on the Billboard
Hot 100, Ronnie and the Hi-Lites released many singles,
16 in all, and this is one of them. Issued in the summer of
1963 on Win Records, "A Slow Dance" got stranded on
the Bubbling Under chart but I believe it is every bit as
good as their national hit.
"A Slow Dance" - Ronnie and the Hi-Lites (August 1963,
highest chart position #116)
Sadly, Ronnie Goodson died of a brain tumor just as he
was entering his 30s. Here's another great single to
remember him by, a 1963 cover of "Valarie," originally
by Eddie and the Starlites.
I read comments on YouTube from people who went to the
same high school as the group and remember being wowed
by Ronnie and the Hi-Lites when they performed it at an
assembly. Pretty impressive! Excellent studio recording!
"Valarie" - Ronnie and the Hi-Lites (1963, uncharted)
Last call for alcohol, Ron!
We're in the home stretch and I'm spinning
a final flurry of treats that are pure doo-
wop delight! I'd like to propose a toast.
Here's to good friends and great music!
The Duprees, featured in two of my posts last summer, made a career out of mixing doo-wop vocals with 1930s/40s swing era big band arrangements. The Rivieras, a northern Jersey R&B group that recorded for the same New York doo-wop label, Coed, was also successful with that formula. I'd like you to hear their signature song. As "Moonlight Cocktail,"
the song was a #1 hit for bandleader Glenn Miller in 1942.
In 1960, the Rivieras registered on the Bubbling Under chart with their own interpretation of the romantic ballad, re-titled "Moonlight Cocktails." Cheers!
"Moonlight Cocktails" - The Rivieras (June 1960, highest
chart position #103)
THE EL DORADOS
During the 50s and 60s many vocal groups were named after various makes and models of cars. The Cadillacs, Edsels and Impalas are examples. The El Dorados are another.
The El Dorados were one of those 50s doo-wop groups that were more successful with jump sides than they were with ballads. At the end of 1955 the group scored a hit with
"At My Front Door (Crazy Little Mama)" which cracked the top 40 on the pop chart and went straight to #1 on the R&B side. The El Dorados had another up tempo hit in the winter of 1956 with the equally catchy "I'll Be Forever Loving You"
a jitterbug gem that missed the pop chart entirely but broke into the top 10 on the black singles survey. As legendary Wibbage jock Joe Niagara used to shout, "Let's hit that floor like never before!"
"I'll Be Forever Loving You" - El Dorados (February 1956,
highest chart position #8 R&B)