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Foot Stompin' (MP3), MP3 (£7.99)
The act of marching through sandboxes full of pebbles, to give a pop recording some snappy aural appeal, has been pursued on more than one occasion. Guitarist Les Paul toyed with the gimmick on Walkin' And Whistlin' Blues, Young Jessie sashayed elegantly across Shuffle In The Gravel, whilst the Solitaires left a memorable impression with their high-steppin' Walkin' Along. In
1961 the medium was unexpectedly brought back into the public consciousness by Foot Stomping Pt 1, a chunky R&B workout courtesy of the Flares led by Aaron Collins. It was typical fun fodder of the time - basic, unpretentious and capable of standing lots of plays on radio and on jukeboxes. In its wake came the Encore Of Foot Stompin' Hits album, renowned for its cover shot featuring the group decked out in matching custard lake tuxedos - here with an 'alternate take' from the famous photo shoot. Surprisingly the twelve-track LP set found a British release on London-American in February 1963. It is the choicest of those sides that now surface here, along with the best singles for Felsted and Press (and three previously unissued tracks). Together, they make up the very first collection by the Flares in digital form.
Sitting amongst the ripest of cherries are some less obvious but highly impressive sides such as the impassioned What Do You Want If You Don't Want Love, the doo wop of Loving You and the slightly quirky, Rock & Roll Heaven Pts 1 & 2. The vocal group's recondite history, encompassing the Flairs, the Coasters and the Cadets, is assiduously explained in Bill Millar's accompanying text. In addition, lovers of all-things West Coast will appreciate the groove cooked up by sidemen Plas Johnson, Ray Johnson and Earl Palmer.
The title track no doubt struck a chord with film producer John Waters, as he used the song on the soundtrack to his classic movie, ?îHairspray'. In fact the Flares' indentation must have left its mark even earlier, because judging by the hob-nailed boots featured on their breakthrough hits, the Dave Clark Five and the Honeycombs probably bought copies as well.
Ace Records' highly enjoyable CD confirms there was a great deal more to the Flares than Foot Stomping, even if their solitary hit must have frustrated manager and producer Buck Ram in terms of emulating the success of stable-mates, the Platters. Nevertheless this unique set by the Flares nicely complements the rest of the Buck Ram series: Crash The Rockabilly Party by Benny Joy (CDCHD 703), Buck Ram's Doo Wop (CDCHD 735) and Rock All Night (CDCHD 763).
By Stuart Colman