After a bit of a hiatus, everything is HUNKY DORY again on the King Vocal Groups front. The delay between volumes 2 & 3 enables us to benefit from the expedition to the King vaults described by Tony Rounce in the December 2004 issue of Right Track. Part of the mission of that trip was to hunt down the previously unreleased vocal group sides and sift through those for inclusion on the next volumes in the series.
As a result, KING VOCAL GROUPS VOL 3 contains six selections which have remained unreleased until 2005. There's a couple from the Mystics (not the group of Hushabye fame) but the group which had two singles on King and another as the Dealers on the Big Bunny label. One track is a nice rework of Earl Lewis & The Channels song Stars In The Sky; the other being a novelty item entitled Humpty Dumpty (Had A Great Fall). The Philadelphia-based Guytones feature with both the title track and the newly released Lovers And Losers. The Checkers and the Lamplighters have a track each, and rounding out the newly released sides is Bobby Freeman. Most noted for his hits Do You Wanna Dance and C'Mon And Swim, here Bobby performs the Spaniels' song Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight backed by a female group in classic doo wop style.
Long-term King label favourites the Royals are featured here both under their original name and their much longer-held moniker the Midnighters. The group, originally from Detroit, debuted on the Federal label in 1952 with Every Beat Of My Heart. From the vaults comes an overdub of that first release and the group are also represented by Why Are We Apart, recorded in 1954 after the group had changed their name to avoid confusion with fellow King artists the Five Royales. Artists we have met before in this series include the Strangers who had 6 singles on the King label; the 'kiddie-lead' group the Chanters; Kenny Martin (most of whose sides featured a vocal group) and Cathy Ryan backed up by the Admirals.
There's still a lot of interest on the vocal group scene in single acts who recorded with a group background. Such records are much less well-known than their group counterparts and still turn up at relatively reasonable prices. Georgie Dorn was one such artist and his only two sides for King featured the doo wop sound and so qualify easily for Volume 3. Appearing for the first time in the King Vocal Group series are the New York City group the Blue Chips who had a one-shot single on the King label; the Buckeyes who hailed from Ohio and later tasted success as the Stereos; the Magic-Tones from Baltimore; and the Dikes, a somewhat unfurnately named group who were from Georgia. Ralph Bass, King's A&R man, used to scour the country to discover acts such as these and then bring them to Los Angeles, New York or Cincinnati to record. Wherever the groups came from, they'll be featured in King Vocal Groups along with the usual informative notes and label detail from Gordon Skadberg and the guys at Early Bird Records.
Peter Gibbon, April 2005