R&B singer Tony Allen recorded for numerous labels in the 1950s and early '60s without making a significant commercial impact. This 26-track compilation has sides he did for Specialty, Ebb, Modern, and Dig, either as a soloist or as a frontman for various groups (and on one track, a duet partner with a female vocalist). For the sake of early rock & roll collectors, Ace does a great service by putting so much material by singers like this in a well-annotated package, even including five previously unissued tracks. For the non-specialist, however, it must be said that this is pretty run-of-the-mill stuff. It's similar in some respects to, but not in the same league as, the output of other Los Angeles R&B stalwarts like Richard Berry. Though this isn't classic doo wop in the vocal group sense since Allen had his own billing, both slow and fast doo wop are the predominant styles. His vocals are competent and cheerful, but not especially distinctive, which is also true of the material, most of which Allen penned himself. At times he does get into songs that rock harder, with the previously unissued "Don't You Know," for instance, not far afield from singers like Larry Williams; another previously unreleased selection, the demo "Come-a Come-a Baby," is obviously derivative of Jimmy Jones' hit "Handy Man."
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger