Named after their home turf Belmont AvenueinNew York’s Bronx borough, the Belmonts had their first record release, ‘Teenage Clementine’, on the Mohawk label in 1957. Dion also had a flop on the same label, and soon the two acts joined forces and got some sales action with ‘Tag Along’, issued on Laurie. ‘I Wonder Why’ peaked at #22 for them in 1958. After a couple of lesser hits they reached #5 with ‘A Teenager In Love’, which pretty well defined the “white group sound”. A series of ballads, less popular with fans of their uptempo songs, led to Dion splitting from the group.
The Belmonts: Angelo D’Aleo, Fred Milano and Carlo Mastrangelo, released ‘We Belong Together’ / ‘Such A Long Way’ on Laurie in early 1961. Encouraged by a friend to form their own label, Sabina, they began a series of hits with ‘Tell Me Why’, ‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ and ‘I Need Someone’. After a couple of flops they issued this collection’s fine opening track, ‘Come On Little Angel’, after which Carlo left for a solo career.
Running Sabina was a solid move, but they suffered from meagre publicity and promotion budgets and signed no other acts. Some singles were issued as by Buddy Sheppard & the Holidays, an alias for the Belmonts. One such release, ‘That Background Sound’ / ‘Now It’s All Over’, was a great double-sider that could have hit the charts had it been under the Belmonts name. Along the way the group passed on Ernie Maresca’s song ‘The Wanderer’, which went on to become a major hit for Dion. Instead, the Belmonts had medium hits with ‘Diddle-Dee-Dum’ and ‘Ann-Marie’ and a string of further issues until they folded the label. Included here are some tasty unreleased tracks from their Sabina period: ‘Come Take A Walk With Me’, ‘Dancin’ Girl’ and ‘Not Responsible’.
At the suggestion of producer Gerry Granahan they moved to United Artists where they cut some promising tracks in a variety of styles. ‘I Don’t Know Why, I Just Do’ was another smooth ballad, while ‘I Got A Feeling’ had a completely new feel, in some ways anticipating the arrival of bubblegum. Pick of the bunch was ‘You’re Like A Mystery’, a stompy dancer subsequently popular in northern soul clubs.