The Larks

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Throughout the 1960s, the Larks -- this Larks is a Philadelphia soul group, unrelated to the R&B/soul group the Larks from Los Angeles -- released numerous singles on more than half a dozen singles, and…
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Throughout the 1960s, the Larks -- this Larks is a Philadelphia soul group, unrelated to the R&B/soul group the Larks from Los Angeles -- released numerous singles on more than half a dozen singles, and almost as many lead singers. They never achieved more than local popularity, but their recordings were pretty solid if unspectacular, and like numerous Philly acts of the time, helped bridge the doo wop era with more modern, smoother soul.

The driving force behind the Larks was Weldon McDougal, who also wrote and produced for the group. At the outset, they featured lead vocalist Jackie Marshall and a sound that was essentially doo wop in its dying days, getting dragged into early soul and glossier production on some of their sides. After Marshall left, a host of female lead singers passed through, including two of McDougal's wives, Vivian McDougal and Cleopatra McDougal, and for a brief time Barbara Mason, who would have big soul hits as a soloist. There was almost always a lush doo wop feel to the harmonies, even on later sides, when the influence of contemporary soul trends such as Motown was evident. Weldon McDougal made a bigger name for himself in the industry as the producer of Barbara Mason's mid-'60s hit "Yes, I'm Ready," and later as an executive at Motown, where (according to the liner notes of the Larks CD compilation The Best of the Larks) he helped interest the label in the Jackson 5.