Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Clyde McPhatter And The Drifters - Bip Bam





Side 1
1. Money Honey
2. Let The Boogie Woogie Roll
3. Don't Dog Me
4. Gone
5. Such A Night
6. Lucille
7. Warm Your Heart
8. The Way I Feel

Side 2
1. Bip Bam
2. Honey Love
3. Whatcha' Gonna Do
4. If I Didn't Love You Like I Do
5. There You Go
6. Try Try Baby
7. Everyone's Laughing
8. Three Thirty Three

Download from here:


Clyde McPhatter And The Drifters - perhaps the apotheosis of vocal group R&B? With Clyde McPhatter as Theos? Whatever you may make of that (remember - Google is your friend), the recordings contained in this utterly fantastic slab of vinyl certainly represent some kind of peak in the history of R&B vocal group performance.

And it all happened over what now seems an incredibly short time period - the group's first recording session took place at the end of June 1953. The results proved unsatisfactory and a drastic change in personnel was effected before the second session in August 1953. Four more sessions followed, with the final one taking place in October 1954. Seven singles were released between September 1953 and August 1955 by which time Clyde McPhatter was no longer a member of The Drifters, having made his last appearance as an official member of the group in January 1955. But the star that shone so briefly shone so very, very brightly as you can hear on this 1984 UK release on Edsel.

On the previous posts on The Dominoes, we saw that Clyde McPhatter left that group in April 1953. His absence from the Dominoes lineup was noticed by Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun when he attended a concert at Birdland in New York City. Ertegun was a huge admirer of McPhatter's gospel drenched high tenor and he quickly set about tracking the singer down, and soon had him signed, sealed and delivered to what was already the top selling R&B label in the country.

Clyde recruited the first set of Drifters in May 1953 and the following personnel went into the recording studio at the end of June - Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), David Baughan (tenor), William Anderson (tenor), David Baldwin (baritone) and James Johnson (bass). The four recordings made that day proved to be disappointing with only one track, "Lucille", ever being released - as the B side of "Such a Night" in January 1954.

A new set of Drifters was soon put together by Clyde. The Thrasher brothers, Gerhart and Andrew, both gospel singers with The Silvertones and The Thrasher Wonders were the first to join. Another gospel singer Bill Pinckney ( formerly of The Jerusalem Stars and The Southern Knights) was recruited and the line up was completed by the addition of Willie Ferbee, the only member of the group who did not come from a gospel background.


This group went into the recording studio on August 9th 1953. From this session "Money Honey" b/w "The Way I Feel" was chosen as the group's first record to be released in September 1953 and in November it was top of the R&B record chart. Bass singer Willie Ferbee left the group after this session and Bill Pinckney moved into the bass spot. The group lined up as follows for the remaining four Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters sessions: Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Gerhart Thrasher (tenor), Andrew Thrasher (baritone) and Bill Pinckney (bass). These sessions took place in November 1953 and February, March and October 1954.

In January 1954 "Such a Night" / "Lucille" was released with the A side reaching number 5 in the R&B charts and B side "Lucille" surprisingly reaching number 7. The third Drifters release didn't appear until May 1954 - "Honey Love" / "Warm Your Heart". Not only did "Honey Love" top the R&B charts, it also reached number 21 in the pop charts. By this time Clyde had been drafted although as his first posting was to Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was still able to attend a recording session in October and perform at some of the more important live dates. Dave Baughan who had been present at the first failed recording session took Clyde's place at most live appearances.

Single number four was released in October 1954 - "Someday You''ll Want Me To Want You" / "Bip Bam", reaching number seven in the R&B charts. In November 1954 "White Christmas" / "Bells Of St. Mary's" was released for the upcoming festive season, reaching number two in the R&B charts. Around this time a second lead tenor was recruited to accompany Dave Baughan at live appearances - Johnny Moore. 

Clyde's last live appearances as a member of The Drifters were in January 1955 among them being Alan Freed's first live New York show, The Rock and Roll Jubilee Ball. In February 1955 the sixth Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters single was released - "Gone" / "What'cha Gonna Do". The record reached number 2 in the R&B charts. Around this time Clyde decided that his future lay as a solo act. Perhaps this was the reason behind some trade adverts crediting "What'cha Gonna Do" to Clyde McPhatter with no mention of The Drifters.

On April 21st 1955, The Drifters were in the recording studio without Clyde. Dave Baughan, Gerhart Thrasher, Andrew Thrasher and Bill Pinckney were now the group personnel as Johnny Moore had left. The formal announcement that Clyde had left The Drifters for a solo career was made on July 16th. In August "Everybody's Laughing" / "Hot Ziggity" was released, credited to Clyde McPhatter despite the fact that the tracks had been recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters. On August 25th 1955, Clyde (still in the army) went into the studio to record his first genuine solo single without The Drifters - "I'm Not Worthy Of You" / "Seven Days".

According to Marv Goldberg, Bill Pinckney was adamant that The Drifters weren't particularly resentful at not being credited on "Everybody's Laughing". However one wonders what their thoughts were when during 1959 - 1960 no less than five Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters tracks were used as B sides on Clyde's solo singles, with no credit being given to his former group mates.

In August 1955 Johnny Moore returned to The Drifters and a new chapter in the history of the group began. We'll take a look at Clyde's solo career in an upcoming post.



Track details:

1. Money Honey - Atlantic 1006, released September 1953.


2. Let The Boogie Woogie Roll - Atlantic 2060, released April 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Deep Sea Ball".

3. Don't Dog Me - Atlantic 2049, released January 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Give Me A Ring".

4. Gone - B side of "What'cha Gonna Do", Atlantic 1055, released February 1955.

5. Such A Night - Atlantic 1019, released January 1954.


6. Lucille - B side of "Such a Night", Atlantic 1019, released January 1954.

7. Warm Your Heart - B side of "Honey Love", Atlantic 1029, released May 1954.

8. The Way I Feel - B side of "Money Honey", Atlantic 1006, released September 1953.

9. Bip Bam - Atlantic 1043, released October 1954.


10. Honey Love - Atlantic 1029, released May 1954.


11. Whatcha' Gonna Do - Atlantic 1055, released February 1955.


12. If I Didn't Love You Like I Do - Atlantic 2082, released November 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Go! Yes Go".

13. There You Go - Atlantic 2038, released September 1959, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "You Went Back On Your Word".

14. Try Try Baby - Atlantic 2028, released June 1959, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Since You Were Gone".

15. Everyone's Laughing - Atlantic 1070, released August 1955, credited to Clyde McPhatter.

16. Three Thirty Three - unissued until 1971 LP "The Drifters, Their Greatest recordings - The Early Years" (Atco SD33-375.)



1957 Atlantic LP which mixed tracks by Clyde solo and with The Drifters
Sources:
Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks
Save The Last Dance For Me: The Musical Legacy Of The Drifters by Tony Allan

A BIG thank you to Joan K for all the vintage label and cover scans.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Dominoes - These Foolish Things



Side 1
1. No Says My Heart
2. Harbor Lights
3. The Deacon Moves In (Little Esther and The Dominoes)
4. I Can't Escape From You
5. Heart To Heart (Little Esther and The Dominoes)
6. When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano
7. Deep Sea Blues
8. Love Love Love
9. No Room

Side 2
1. I'm Lonely
2. Yours Forever
3. These Foolish Things
4. Rags To Riches
5. Ringing In A Brand New Year
6. Can't Do Sixty No More
7. Over The Rainbow
8. O Holy Night
9. What Are You Doing New Years Eve

This little homemade "LP" contains all the remaining Dominoes tracks I have on vinyl, outwith the previously featured album "Have Mercy Baby."

The first 12 tracks are from the Clyde McPhatter era Dominoes, with the added attraction of Federal labelmate Little Esther on a couple of the sides. "Rags To Riches" has McPhatter's replacement, Jackie Wilson, on lead vocal.

"O Holy Night" and "What Are You Doing New Years Eve" were recorded and released on King in 1965, long after the early 1950s R&B heyday of the original Dominoes and long after their pop success in the late 1950s. The only connection this final incarnation of the group had with the successful earlier versions of The Dominoes was manager / vocal coach Billy Ward who was determined to keep the group going long after the demand for their style of music had faded.

Track details:

1. No Says My Heart - B side of Harbor Lights, released January 1951.

2. Harbor Lights - Federal 12010, January 1951.

3. The Deacon Moves In - Little Esther and The Dominoes with the Johnny Otis band. B side of "Other Lips, Other Arms", Federal 12016, released February 1951.

4. I Can't Escape From You - B side of "Sixty Minute Man" (Federal 12022), released April 1951.


5. Heart To Heart - Little Esther with The Dominoes (Federal 12036), released November 1951.


6. When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano - B side of  first release of "That's What You're Doing To Me" (Federal 12059), February 1952.

7. Deep Sea Blues - B side of "Have Mercy Baby" (Federal 12068), released April 1952.


8. Love Love Love - B side of reissue of "That's What You're Doing To Me" (Federal 12072), May 1952.

9. No Room - Federal 12105, October 1952. Released as by "Billy Ward And His Dominoes", as were all subsequent Dominoes releases.


10. I'm Lonely - B side of "Yours Forever".

11. Yours Forever - Federal 12106, released November 1952.

12. These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You - Federal 12129, April 1953. Last release featuring Clyde McPhatter.


13. Rags To Riches - King 1280, released October 1953. The group's biggest success with a Jackie Wilson lead vocal, reached number 2 in the R&B chart.


14. Ringing In A Brand New Year - King 1281, B side of "Christmas In Heaven" released November 1953.

15. Can't Do Sixty No More - Federal 12209, released January 1955.

16. Over The Rainbow - King 1502, released September 1955.

17. O Holy Night - King 6016, released in September 1965.

18. What Are You Doing New Years Eve - B side of "O Holy Night".

Download from here:


Sources: "The Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll" by St. Nicholas of Tosches


Label shots are crops of original scans by Joan K. "LP" cover was adapted from Joan's scan of a Dominoes record in a Federal sleeve.

More rockin' R&B vocal groups are in the pipeline! Stay tuned to the blog that jumps, jives and wails!

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Dominoes - Have Mercy Baby





Side One
1 Chicken Blues
2 Do Something For Me
3 Weeping Willow Blues
4 Sixty Minute Man
5 That's What You're Doing To Me
6 I Am With You
7 Don't Leave Me This Way
8 Have Mercy Baby

Side Two
1 Pedal Pushin' Papa
2 I'd Be Satisfied
3 The Bells
4 I Ain't Gonna Cry For You
5 You Can't Keep A Good Man Down
6 My Baby's 3-D
7 I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town
8 If I Never Get To Heaven

1951 was the year of the big breakthrough for vocal groups in the R&B charts and leading the way were the Dominoes who were the second biggest selling R&B act (after Percy Mayfield) of the year. Their "Sixty Minute Man" was the top selling R&B record and they had other big sellers with "Do Something For Me" and "I Am With You." Success continued into 1952 with "That's What You're Doing To Me", "When The Swallows Come Back To Capistrano", "I'd Be Satisfied", "Have Mercy Baby" and "Love, Love, Love". That year The Dominoes were the 7th best selling R&B act, with The Clovers being the top vocal group and 2nd best selling R&B act (B.B. King was top in '52).

"Rags To Riches", "The Bells", "These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You" and "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" helped the Dominoes to reach the number four spot in the best selling R&B artists list of 1953, but they were only the third best selling vocal group, coming in behind The "5" Royales (top selling act), and The Clovers (2nd best selling act). 3rd best selling R&B artist of '53 was Willie Mabon. Further down the list was a new group on Atlantic which featured the former star vocalist of The Dominoes, Clyde McPhatter, with The Drifters. Their "Money Honey" was the top selling R&B disc of 1953.

In 1954 R&B record sales were dominated by vocal groups The Midnighters, The Charms, The Clovers, The Spiders, The Chords, The Crows and of course ex-Domino Clyde McPhatter with his Drifters. But of the once dominant Dominoes there was no sign as their records bombed, and thereby hangs a tale.

And you can read that tale on Unca Marvy's R&B Notebooks which is the go-to site for seekers after arcane knowledge of 1950s vocal groups.


The Dominoes were formed by vocal coach, pianist, arranger and songwriter Billy Ward in 1950. The original line up was - Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Charlie White (second tenor), Joe Lamont (baritone) and Bill Brown (bass). A former member of the gospel group The Mount Lebanon Singers, McPhatter was the star turn of The Dominoes, bringing holy roller fervor to rocking jump tunes, heartbroken blues and sentimental ballads. In an extraordinary performance in "The Bells" he weeps and wails his way through the song (or so it seemed to the listening public - in the studio he was actually laughing at his own absurdly over the top vocals).



The Dominoes' Federal oeuvre of 1951 - 1953 places them as pioneers in the development of both rock and roll and soul. "Sixty Minute Man" (featuring the deep honeyed bass voice of Bill Brown) is often cited as the first R&B vocal group record to cross over into the pop charts and it even contained the lyrics "I rock 'em, roll 'em all night long." Two absolute blasters featuring McPhatter on lead vocal, "That's What You're Doing To Me" and "Have Mercy Baby" are surely candidates for "the first rock and roll record."



The Dominoes were dogged by frequent personnel changes as various group members became disillusioned by Billy Ward's authoritarian management style and also by the lack of financial reward compared to the number of discs they were selling. Charlie White left in September 1951, Bill Brown quit in February 1952 and Clyde McPhatter baled out in April 1953.

The loss of McPhatter was a particularly hard blow. He was quickly signed by Atlantic to lead a new group formed to showcase his voice, The Drifters. Although he was replaced in The Dominoes by the very talented Jackie Wilson, somehow it wasn't quite the same as Ward began to move the group away from R&B towards pop. Wilson's biggest success with the group was a cover version of "Rags to Riches" in 1953. The contractual situation became rather messy in 1954 as the group were recording simultaneously for both King and Jubilee.

Pop success was achieved on Decca in 1956 with "St Therese Of The Roses" and again in 1957 on Liberty with "Star Dust." There's a post from 2008 on the blog, "The Dominoes After Federal" which showcases vinyl rips and scans by Joan K of the group's output on Jubilee, Decca and Liberty. I have updated the fileshare link on that post.

The Charly LP featured on this post was originally posted back in November 2007 but this time round I've rescanned the album sleeve and also included label shots. The shots of original Federal singles are from scans by Joan K. The sleevenotes by Bill Millar include a good overview of the Dominoes' glory years in the R&B charts.

Download "Have Mercy Baby" from here:


The download includes a folder of Joan K's scans of Dominoes' records on Federal and King. Thanks Joan!

Here are some more label scans courtesy of Joan K:





Sources: Liner notes to "Have Mercy Baby" by Bill Millar.
              Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks
              Big Al Pavlow's R&B Book
              Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll by Nick Tosches