One of the San Antonio groups not featured on the Numero label's Eccentric Soul: The Dynamic Label was the Royal Jesters. That's because they recorded for two of Abe Epstein's other labels, Cobra and Jox, and they eventually set up labels of their own and briefly mingled with larger labels Bell and Bang. With English Oldies, Numero rounds up over two-dozen cuts from the locally beloved Chicano group, including solo material from members Dimas III and Joe Jama. This emphasizes the group's pre-Tejano years, with 1962's "I Never Will Forget" presumably the earliest selection and 1972's "Back to You"/"Theme for a Lonely Girl" possibly the latest. Going by those inclusions and the group's other output during that decade, it's evident how smoothly the Royal Jesters evolved from the emulation of doo wop and early Motown to a harmonically rich cross-genre act that would not have been out of place on a nationwide tour with Malo or the Doobie Brothers, had they ever ventured outside the Lone Star State. The heart of the anthology is the Royal Jesters' earlier work, mostly aching ballads ideal for teen dances that gracefully float and gently bounce. "I Won't Love You Again" and their cover of "Take Me for a Little While," at minumum, deserved to spread far outside San Antonio. The Impressions-like "I've Got Soul" (a personal pride anthem) and a steaming version of Willie Bobo's "Spanish Grease" (the set's hottest dance inclusion) are fine, too. The booklet contains an in-depth essay that is typical of Numero's high standards, but there is no track information beyond songwriting credits. Only a few release dates can be identified by scouring the text.
English Oldies Review
by Andy Kellman