Tuesday, 29 September 2009

“Why” by THE CUES. A Review of the 2008 CD Reissue on Bear Family Records.

“…I'm A Prince When You're Near Me...All The World Is My Throne…”

The knowledgeable and detailed PETER GRENDYSA liner notes on this typically superb Bear Family CD are dated ‘July 1988’ – on a 2008 CD? Here’s what happened…

Back in 1988 Bear Family put out one of the first compilations dedicated to this superb Doo Wop and R’n’B Vocal group – the 16-track vinyl LP “Crazy, Crazy Party” on BFX 15309. It contained most of their Capitol Records output and four previously unreleased tracks - “Much Obliged”, “Killer Diller”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mr. Oriole” and “Be My Wife”.

This was then reissued as “Why” on an expanded CD in 1991 with 28 Tracks (a different cover also accompanied the different title). As well as featuring additional early sides on Lamp, Jubilee, Prep and Groove, it added a further five previously unreleased songs from Capitol’s vaults – 2 takes of “Yes Sir”, “Poppa Loves Momma”, “Ladder” and “Warm Spot”.

This 2008 version of “Why” (BCD 15510 AH) is the 1991 CD in exactly the same running order, but again with different artwork and now - new 2008 copyright dates on the digital remasters. The booklet is a sizeable 24-pages and includes detailed liners notes and a discography to 1960, while the CD label and inlay beneath the see-through tray picture “Burn That Candle” – their debut September 1955 single on Capitol Records F 3245 (later made a sizeable hit by Bill Haley & His Comets in November 1955 on Decca).

The Cues were formed by the legendary Producer & Writer JESSE STONE specifically as a backing-group of quality for recording labels of the time – the first time this had ever been done. They’re on Atlantic hits by LaVern Baker in 1954, they’re credited as Joe Turner’s “Blues Kings”, the “Rhythmmakers” for Ruth Brown and “The Ivorytones” for Ivory Joe Hunter.

The Cues had an array of stunning vocalists – OLLIE JONES [Lead Tenor], ABEL DeCOSTA [First Tenor], JIMMY BREEDLOVE [Second Tenor], ROBIE KIRK [Baritone] and EDWARD ‘EDDIE’ BARNES [Bass]. Breedlove later had a solo career with sides on RCA in 1958, but they were far rockier than his smooth vocal work with The Cues (his lone album “Sings Rock ‘n’ Roll Hits” was reissued on Bear Family BFX 15327 in 1989). One the highlights on this CD is Breedlove’s beautiful lead vocals on his ballad “Don’t Make Believe” – the flip of “Destination 2100 And 65”.

The sound quality is fabulous throughout, except for their October 1954 debut 45 on Lamp 8007 (“Forty ‘leven Dozen Ways” b/w “Scoochie Scoochie”) where both sides are dubbed from a scratchy and extremely rare disc. The other selling point is the really great quality of the unreleased tracks – Breedlove’s whistling on “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mr. Oriole” predating Bobby Darin’s “Rockin’ Robin” by a full two years. Another rarity is “So Near And Yet So Far” b/w “Hot Rotten Soda Pop (On My Toe)” which was issued in June 1955 on Groove 4/G-0110 (one of RCA’s subsidiary labels); it’s credited to THE FOUR STUDENTS, but it’s featured on this CD because 4 members of The Cues are on it.

My personal favourites on “Why” are the four sides of two great singles – the 1st on Capitol F 3582 from November 1956 - “Why” b/w “Prince Or Pauper” and the 2nd on Prep 104 from May 1957 - “Crazy, Crazy Party” b/w “I Pretend”. They’re both perfect slices of Fifties greatness – a cool dancer on the A with a beautiful Doo Wop balled on the B. Ollie Jones’ deep pleading vocal on “Prince Or Pauper” is simply irresistible – as lovely a song as you’ve ever heard (lyrics above).

So – for newcomers looking for a bit of Fifties Doo Wop and R’n’B magic - this is a sweetheart of a release and typical of Bear Family’s commitment to excellence – and for those who own the 1991 issue, there’s the new remasters.

Gorgeous stuff - and recommended the most.

- BELOW IS A DISCOGRAPHY WITH REGARD TO THIS RELEASE -

*** THE CUES *** A 45/LP Discography referencing “Why” the 28-track 1991/2008 Bear Family CD compilation:

1. “Forty ‘eleven Dozen Ways” b/w “Scoochie Scoochie” are the A&B of Lamp 8007 issued in October 1954 (tracks 25 and 26 on the CD)

2. “Only You” b/w “I Fell For Your Loving” are the A&B of Jubilee 5201 issued in May 1955 (tracks 21 and 22 on the CD)
Note: The A is NOT a cover version of the famous Platters song, which happened to be issued in that same month

3. “So Near And Yet So Far” b/w “Hot Rotten Soda Pop (On My Toe)” are the A&B of Groove 4/G-0110 issued in June 1955 (an RCA subsidiary label) – it’s credited as THE FOUR STUDENTS but is included on the CD because it contains Jones, DeCosta, Barnes and Kirk of THE CUES (tracks 24 and 23 on the CD)

4. “Burn That Candle” b/w “Oh My Darlin’” are the A&B of Capitol F 3245 (their debut for Capitol) issued in September 1955 (tracks 4 and 16 on the CD)

5. “Charlie Brown” b/w “You’re On My Mind” are the A&B of Capitol F 3310 issued in January 1956 (tracks 7 and 9 on the CD)
Note: The A is NOT a cover of the hit by The Coasters (1959 on Atlantic), but an Ollie Jones rocking original (in a similar vein to The Coasters famous hit)

6. “Destination 2100 And 65” b/w “Don’t Make Believe” are the A&B of Capitol F 3400 in April 1956 (tracks 11 and 20 on the CD)

7. “Crackerjack” b/w “The Girl I Love” are the A&B of Capitol F 3482 issued in July 1956 (tracks 3 and 15 on the CD)

8. “Why” b/w “Prince Or Pauper” are the A&B of Capitol F 3582 issued in November 1956 (tracks 2 and 12 on the CD)

9. “Crazy, Crazy Party” b/w “I Pretend” are the A&B of Prep 104 issued in May 1957 (a Capitol subsidiary label) (tracks 8 and 18 on the CD)

10. “Ol’ Man River” is the A of Jubilee JB 5395 issued in (its B-side “Always Remember (not To Forget)” is not included on the compilation because its thought not to contain any members of The Cues in the recording

11. “Rock n’ Roll Mr. Oriole”, “Killer Diller”, “Much Obliged” and “Be My Wife” are FOUR previously unreleased tracks which first appeared on the 1988 Bear Family LP “Crazy, Crazy Party” on BFX 15309 (tracks 13, 17, 5 and 19 on the CD)

12. “Yes Sir” (two takes), “Poppa Loves Momma”, “Ladder” and “Warm Spot” are FIVE previously unreleased tracks which first appeared on the expanded 1991 Bear Family CD “Why” – their placing is repeated on this 2008 reissue (tracks 1 and 27, 6, 10 and 14 on the CD)

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