This marvelous vocal quartet has been woefully overlooked by most surveys of R&B and pop history, which is a shame, since the Four Knights exhibited a hushed grace and elegance in everything they recorded. Led by the gentle high tenor singing of Gene Alford, the Knights bear a passing resemblance to contemporaries the Mills Brothers, but with less jazz and more Jubilee gospel thrown into the mix. This delightful album catches the Four Knights at the beginning of their recording career (1945-1950), and features 27 of their Lang-Worth radio transcriptions (recordings made for radio shows that made it appear the artist was live in the studio) along with a couple of their early singles for Decca Records. The Four Knights were arguably at their peak after they signed with Capitol Records in 1951, but it's hard to fault these gentle tracks, which range from stylish Jubilee pieces like "Gospel Train" and "Rise, Shine" to artful pop gems like "Just in Case You Change Your Mind." It's startling to hear the gorgeous and completely original vocal arrangements the group gives such familiar songs as "Georgia on My Mind" and "Ain't Gwine to Study War No More," both of which are reborn here in stunning new clothes, and it's no wonder that the Four Knights were Nat King Cole's vocal group of choice during his stay at Capitol Records, since the Knights definitely share his graceful, intimate pop approach. A wonderful collection.
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