The Vibrations

Out of Sight! The Checker Years

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The Vibrations' career, though not phenomenally successful, was so long that only a multi-label, best-of compilation can do full justice to the band. Those looking for such a best-of should try Collectables' Very Best of the Vibrations first, but more specialized collectors will appreciate this two-CD set, which includes almost everything they recorded for Chess in the early 1960s. That includes "The Watusi," one of the better dance-rock hits of the era; the less distinguished but almost equally as popular, "Peanut Butter," which they cut under the pseudonym of the Marathons; everything from their 1961 Watusi LP; most everything from their Chess singles; and three previously unissued tracks, along with stereo versions of a couple singles. Other than hits like "The Watusi" and "My Girl Sloopy" (the latter of which, alas, was done after they left Chess and thus isn't included), the Vibrations were a rather journeyman R&B vocal group of the time, but certainly among the better such journeymen. This anthology mixes well-sung doo wop ballads ("So Blue" sounds like a mix of the Flamingos and Little Anthony & the Imperials), novelty dance-rockers (sometimes in a somewhat Chubby Checker-ish style, but more raucous), and a few songs that sound like they're starting the transition from rock & roll/R&B/doo wop to '60s soul. A good percentage of the material is average and derivative, but some of the more sophisticated tracks are rather reminiscent of early-'60s Motown, whether they were directly influenced by the label, or simply part of a simultaneous move in a similar pop-soul direction. Their stomping mid-tempo version of "Since I Fell for You" is a nice change from the usual ballad arrangements of that standard, though "Hamburger on a Bun" is emblematic of the sillier early soul dance songs.

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