Various Artists

Crystal Ball Records: 45rpm Days, Vol. 3

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Twenty-eight doo wop numbers all dating from the late 1950s and early 1960s. The principal point here would be the rarity and sheer obscurity of the material, all previously unreleased, although almost everything here is of very high musical quality -- Vinny & the Visuals may not have cut much new ground with their version of "Stormy Weather," but it is pleasant listening, and there are fascinating modulations present in numbers like "Please Be Mine" by Donald Byron & the Montclairs. The sheer obscurity of the material is demonstrated by the absence of songwriting credits to more than half of the material. For the sheer delight of it, however, one should take in Danny & the Diamonds' rendition of "Possibility," which sounds amazingly like "Remember When" by the Earls -- and then note that Stan Vincent, who wrote and produced "Remember When," also has the writing credit on "Possibility." A big part of the delight in a collection like this is sampling the work of musicians that, somehow, didn't make it. At times it's obvious why (good as they may have sung, it's hard to believe that, even in 1961, anyone would take an act named Tommy Tomorrow & the Yesterdays seriously), but a few, like Danny & the Diamonds, Nicky & the Del-Fives, and Vinnie Di Martino & the Clouds, deserved better -- they're two of the acts represented here on which the makers have no information, which is a shame, because they left us at least one superb song each ("You Can't Judge a Book By Its Cover," "Tomorrow," and "I Got a Girl," respectively). Regina & the Redheads (whoever they were) are the one girl-group represented, doing the romantic lament "Nothin' Went Right"; recorded in early 1962, it resembles "This Magic Moment" musically, and anticipates the sound of the Angels to some extent. The Royal Knights, whoever they were, offered a lead singer who sounded uncannily like Ben E. King and, in "Introduction to Romance," a virtual lost Drifters number. On the other end of the spectrum lie the Del Larks, who turn in a fascinating rockabilly-paced (and arranged) piece of harmony R&B called "Can't Believe You're Mine Tonight." Not everyone is as obscure as those named, and one of the more interesting partly known acts is the Revlons, who came out of the orbit of the Tokens. Considering that none of these songs ever saw the light of day, it's amazing to report that the sound quality is excellent throughout, with barely any traces of defects, and the annotation, at least concerning the acts that we do know something about.

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