Do Be You chirp Otis Williams & The Charms repeatedly as they kick off the latest of our King-Federal vocal group compilations. Otis & his group feature on two tracks the other one being a previously unreleased verdion of The First Sign Of Love. Volume 4 follows in the style of the last one in the series, featuring half a dozen or so previously unreleased or alternate versions of vocal group recordings from the King-Federal roster as well as many classic collectors numbers. In all, 13 different artists are featured, and the 24 tracks span the period 1952-62.
The Hurricanes were one of the more profilic groups on the King label with seven releases to their names during the 50s. They've featured before in this series and here are to be heard with two selections the standard Yours as well as Fallen Angel. One of the most well known and respected vocal groups from the 50s era were the Five Keys. They joined the King label in 1959 after successful stays earlier in the decade, first with Aladdin and then with Capitol Records. By the time they arrived at the label, Thomas "Dickie" Threat had replaced the legendary lead voice of Rudy West. On this compilation they are featured performing two nice ballads No Says My Heart and Dream On.
The Royals were one of the pioneer R&B vocal groups. From their first recordiing session for the label comes Starting From Tonight with Charles Sutton and Henry Boooth doing tenor duties. The recording was included in its original form on the complete compilation of the Royals King and Federal output "Featuring Charles Sutton and Hank Ballard" on Ace CDCHD 1054. However, the version included here is a previously unreleased overdub. After a group line-up change, caused by transfers into the army late in 1952, Hank Ballard joined the group and started what turned out to be one of the longest-standing stints as a lead singer in any vocal group. The two other selections by the group here feature Hank with the group that was to be renamed Hank Ballard & The Midnighters in 1955 to avoid confudion with their stablemates the Five Royales.
The city of Canton, Ohio was home to the Mascots whose lead singer was Eddie Levert. The city was some 50-odd miles south of Cleveland wher Eddie O'Jay was an influential R&B deejay. The Mascots came to his attention as a result of their first recordings for King. He adopted them, renaming them eponymously as the O'Jays, and they went on to score over 50 R&B hits in their immensely succesful career. From their first two sessions for King come a song from their first release and two other performances issued on a CD for the first time. A great contemporary shot of the group from the King photo archives is included as the front cover .
Vocal groups were well represented on the King & Federal labels, both under their own names and as backing groups for single artists. Jerry Dorn was such an artist, and a previously unreleased gem, Thank You, is included here with background vocals by an unknown group. Gordon Skadberg and the guys at Early Bird Records, who again are the compilers and annotators of this release, speculate that the uncredited group may well be the Hurricanes.
Rounding out this fourth volume in our trawl through the King vocal group archives are selections from the Swallows, Orchids, Superiors, Federals, Ramblers & The Ascots. Last but not least are the Admirals whom we've heard from earlier in this series, both on their own and backing-up songtress Cathy Ryan. In their own right we have selected two of their 1955 outings. The group's line-up at that time included a 20-year old Gene McDaniels. His individual fame was still six years away at that point before his 100lbs Of Clay became a world-wide hit.
This compilation is another good helping of doo wop from the King-Federal vaults and there's still plenty more where that came from.