Ace's tour de force of vocal group compilations from West Coast labels continues and now the spotlight is turned on the Class & Rendevous marques. The Class label was started by Leon Ren?© in 1951 and ran for some fifteen years, with its associated Rendezvous logo appearing in 1958. Leon's son Rafael-Leon (nicknamed Googie) was a major force at the labels, doing both A&R work and appearing as an artist. The musical focus was quite broad, encompassing rock'n'roll (Bobby Day, Eugene Church etc), a good helping of instrumentals (Ernie Fields, B Bumble & Stingers etc) together with teen, novelty and ballad items. Sprinkled throughout the releases were many good vocal sides and CLASS /RENDEZVOUS VOCAL GROUPS (Ace CDCHD 892) serves up many of the best from the two labels.
Take the combination of a good recording and a group line-up which contains members who go on to bigger and better things and you've got a recipe for a very sought-after record. That's just the case with the Intervals recording Here's That Rainy Day. Released in 1962, it's rather late for classic high priced doo wop, but rarity and a good track coincide with the fact that group members Lamont McLemore, Marilyn McCoo and Ron Townson went on to much success in the Fifth Dimension. The result: a copy of Class 304, assuming you can find one, will set you back around $1000. Both sides of their rare single are featured along with two other tracks which were not released at the time.
Bobby Day and Earl Nelson's professional careers were entwined for many years. They were first together in the Hollywood Flames and then featured on Class label releases under a variety of guises. They were together in the Satellites and are featured with Heavenly Angel. Both were also in the line-up of Earl Nelson & The Pelicans doing Oh Gee Oh Golly and I Bow To You and are pretty likely to be present on the couple of recordings included here as by the Searchers. As well as having successful solo careers (Earl later became known as Jackie Lee and recorded The Duck for the Mirwood label) they also appeared as the duo Bob & Earl on Class. From 1962 onwards Bob & Earl releases appeared on other labels including the famous Harlem Shuffle on Marc and others on Mirwood. By then Bob was actually Bobby Relf who had been lead singers of the Laurels but also happened to be a member of, yes, Earl Nelson & The Pelicans!
As well as the revolving membership of many of the groups, scholars of the West Coast vocal group scene have to put up with figuring out the true identity behind many pseudonyms. Usually adopted at a time in an artist's career when they have had a dispute with their record company and are on their way to a different label, such subterfuges were necessary for contractual reasons. Caught in this trap in 1956 was Richard Berry, at the end of his time with. the Biharis' Flair label, both as a member of the Flairs, the Dreamers and as a single artist. On his first Class recording with his new group the Pharaohs, Richard's involvement had to be disguised on the label as 'featuring Rickey' and in the recording by the adoption of a falsetto voice. He did of course get to reveal his true colours in front of the group with later recordings such as the original Louie, Louie and other successful recordings for the Flip label.
Other tracks featured on this release, which is compiled and annotated by Gordon Skadberg of Earlybird Records, include all four tracks by the Sputniks and releases from the Gallahads, Blenders, Lions, Classics, Tangiers, Little Victor & the Vistas, Rollettes and Lou Josie with an uncredited group.
by Peter Gibbon