Far from being the one-dimensional, ‘two-hit wonder’ that their UK chart record might suggest, the Newbeats might well have been one of the most versatile American pop groups of the 1960s. In the course of a career that spanned ten years and two decades, brothers Dean and Marc Mathis and their associate Larry Henley successfully tried their collective hand at assimilating Motown, sunshine pop, psychedelia, bubblegum, surf, country and much more besides. That they are chiefly remembered for just their massive hits Bread And Butter and Run, Baby, Run (Back Into My Arms) is a bit unfortunate – especially for those who have never heard many (or any) of their other great 45s and albums, and who are thus unaware of just how versatile Messrs Mathis, Mathis and Henley were, individually and collectively.
Happily for Newbeats fans, the trio cut all but four of their masters for the same label, Hickory. Thus Ace has been able to present, across three CDs, pretty much their entire recording history. Our previous two packages have dealt with their earlier successes of the 1960s. Our third and final instalment of the Newbeats story brings us to the very end of the 1960s, and to their successful attempt(s) to meet the Sound Of The 70s head-on.
For many Newbeats collectors, this final volume will be the most desirable of the three. Only a handful of its tracks have ever been released on CD and, indeed, most of them have never been available, at all, since they were originally released as 45s in the 1960s and early 1970s. Within its contents, we’ve also been able to include all of the original Hickory 45s that were cut – within the same time frame – as ‘solo’ singles by Larry Henley and “Dean and Mark” (as the Mathis brothers were credited on their 45 labels). And after some exhaustive archive research by Hickory’s nowadays owners, Masters International, We’re delighted to be able to premiere two previously unheard Newbeats recordings that will especially thrill anyone who likes their Northern soul-style material. A more comprehensive collection of Newbeats rarities you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere.
You want highlights, we got ‘em. Our title track, 1969’s Groovin’ Out On Life – written by New Orleans swamp-pop rocker Bobby Charles – was not the US hit it ought to have been. However, its influence extended far beyond the confines of the Hot 100, when a note-for note reggae version by Hopeton Lewis became a massive Jamaican hit in 1970. The “Dean and Mark” sides are perhaps the best records that the Everly Brothers never made, and they utilise the same musicians as those that backed Don and Phil on all of their big hits. While Larry Henley’s warm tenor vibrato on his solo tracks will come as a great surprise to all who may believe, from the Newbeats hits, that Henley naturally sang like a man with his testicles caught in a vice. As I said earlier, the Newbeats covered all the bases, all of the time and this CD proves that from start to finish.
With a host of rare record labels to drool over, and an authoritative sleeve note from ultimate Newbeats expert Harry Young, this is a treat that nobody with even the remotest interest in classic American pop should consider missing. Groovy, baby…
By Tony Rounce