Various Artists

The Golden Era of Doo-Wops: Atlas Records

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Tommy Robinson's Atlas Records, originally based on 125th St. in New York's Harlem, was one of the first culturally significant record labels founded and operated by a Black owner. From 1951 until the early 1970s, the company specialized in R&B, evolving from urban blues and jazz in the beginning to doo wop music in the late 1950s -- their first release in December of 1951 was "Rock H-Bomb Rock" by H-Bomb Ferguson. In 1953, he started recording vocal groups, which heralded his entry into the doo wop field with the Caverliers Quartet. Other harmony groups and a cappella outfits that came aboard included the Revels, the Travelers, the Fi-Tones (the reorganized Caverliers), the Parakeets, the Gypsies (who had more of a jump sound), the Five Dukes, and the Lincolns, all of whom -- along with many others -- are represented on this 29-song collection. None of Atlas's releases ever charted nationally -- the company was essentially a one-man operation, and lacked the promotional clout and money to push songs that high nationwide -- but their artists were fixtures on local and regional charts. As for the diversity of material here, it runs the gamut from raunchy, heavily R&B-flavored numbers like the Caverliers' "Dynaflow" (a great unheralded car song with a real cool sax solo) and the Gypsies' jumping "Young Girl to Calypso," to smooth near-pop like "Lenora" by the Travelers. This collection also includes a pair of unreleased numbers by the Travelers and the Fi-Tones. The sound is generally good, and the notes are exceptionally detailed, as well.

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