Tracking down sources for the recordings included in the Modern Vocal Groups series has always been a intricate process. Of course we go back to a tape source if these can be located amongst the fairly poorly documented tapes of the Modern Group, but if it isn't possible to locate the master or a good alternate take, then the source has had to be a dub from a collector's copy of the disc. As a rule, these are relatively straightforward to find. On Modern Vocal Groups Volume 6 (CDCHD 817), we wanted to feature the rare Kent issue by Bobby Sanders You've Forgotten Me / Maybe I'm Wrong (Kent 382). First of all we thought we had tape sources for these tracks - but they turned out to be by Sylvester Stewart of Sly and the Family Stone fame. So it was down to finding a copy of the disc. This turned out to be the toughest search so far in the series and finally, it was famed collector/ dealer Val Shively who came to the rescue with his copy of the disc, one of the very few known to exist. And thus one of the rarest doo wops from the Modern stable is now available on CD re-issue.
The rare, as well as the super-rare, feature on this last volume of the Modern Vocal Group series. Original Kent label collectables by the Senders, Classicals and Vina James & the Hi-Toppers-.-together with sought-after items by the Meadowlarks, Rams and Curley Williams complement Modern label mainstays the Cadets/Jacks and B.B. King and Etta James on recordings with vocal groups. The Bihari brothers who ran the Modern stable of labels and first recorded the vocal groups spotlighted in this series were also responsible for Crown LP label. Dotted around in literally hundreds of releases on that label are some great doo wop sounds and Volume 6 includes a few of these.
Marvin & Johnny had sides on their Crown album which didn't see the light of day as a single and the same is the case with Tony Allen. Tony's unique voice fronted many recordings with vocal group backing (credited or otherwise) and three of them are included here. More should be available soon on a Ace CD devoted to him. The Crown label also provided us with anonymous groups whose identity doesn't feature on the album sleeve or the record. One good example was to be found hidden away on comedian Ray 'Ahab The Arab' Stevens LP. It's a great vocal group sound called Always On My Mind so we've taken the liberty of naming the group the A-Rabs on this CD.
Guiding us through the compilations for the Modern Vocal Groups series have been the guys at EarlyBird Records in Long Island, New York, featuring info-laden annotations by Gordon Skadberg. Their trawl of the Modern vaults doesn't necessarily end with the last of the Modern Vocal Groups CDs.
Look out for more of the Modern Records group output in the shape of a couple of CDs featuring the female R&B sound of the 50s and early 60s, mostly with vocal group backing. Also in the pipeline are releases featuring the tenderer sound of Modern Records with ballads from a mixture of artists on the Modern / Kent / RPM labels. So this CD may be the end of the series as far as the Modern Vocal Groups Volumes are concerned, but it could also be looked at as the end of the beginning!
By Peter Gibbon