MODERN VOCAL GROUPS VOLUME 2, (CDCHD 723), is the second CD in a series that features the R&B vocal groups who recorded for the Bihari Brothers' Modern, RPM, Flair, and Crown record labels in the 1950s. Like the previous volume, this is compiled by Gordon Skadberg with help from the guys at Early Bird Records Inc. It presents a total of 24 tracks by twelve groups, of which 21 selections were released from 1951-55 and there are three unissued items. The major artists featured are Arthur Lee Maye & the Crowns, Shirley Gunter & the Queens, the Original Jubalaires, and the Robins, all of whom are represented with three tracks.
The Robins (sometimes called the Robbins) had a bass lead - Bobby Nunn. In addition to their recordings for the Modern group of labels, the group had many other West Coast releases as the Robins on labels such as Score, Aladdin, Recorded In Hollywood, Spark, Whippet, and Knight. Throughout the period 1949-56, the group was essentially intact until Bobby Nunn left the group to join the newly formed Coasters on the Atco label.
One of the most beautiful ballads to be found on the Modern group of labels is the Flairs' This The Night For Love, included on this CD in an interesting alternative version. The Flairs were led for most of their career by singer and songwriter Richard Berry. Richard is also featured on this volume as songwriter and lead vocalist with the Dreamers. Obie Jessie, another member of the group, appears as Young Jessie with the Cadets, and Cornell Gunter (indirectly) as the brother of Shirley Gunter of the Queens.
Included, as usual, are some rarities that should appeal to vocal group collectors who are unlikely to be able to get their hands on the original 45s or 78s. Today's going rate, for example, for the Chanters' Tell Me Thrill Me is $300, and you'd need $200 for either a copy of the Flairs' Love Me Girl or for the Cobras' Sindy (provided it was spelled with an "S" and not a "C"). Rated at only $20, but still of great interest, is Anna Marie & the Stardusters I'm A Fool To Care. In fact, this is one of the first recordings by Abbey Lincoln who later went on to fame as a jazz singer and an actress, being featured in the classic rock'n'roll film 'The Girl Can't Help It' in 1957.
And for a little bit of Christmas in midsummer - there's Oscar McLollie with his Honey Jumpers doing a couple of festive numbers. But then that's what they do down under, so why not?
By Peter Gibbon