Various Artists

Herb Abramson's Festival of Groups

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Herb Abramson was a legendary R&B producer whose career covered most of the first quarter century of music from the end of World War II on at Jubilee Records and later at Atlantic. He was responsible for recording the likes of the Ravens, the Orioles, and the Clovers, among numerous others, and was regarded as one of the top men in his field. It's a sign of just how pathetically ignorant Americans are of their own musical heritage that London-based Sequel Records felt confident issuing a disc with this title, knowing that enough Europeans would know who Herb Abramson was, where no American label (including Atlantic Records) could ever consider such a collection or a name. This specific volume is devoted to the 1960s sides cut by groups that Abramson had recorded in the '40s and '50s and whose original members he had brought back into the fold. The astonishing part is that 1940s veterans like Jimmy Ricks and Sonny Til still had a huge amount to offer on dance numbers and ballads. Ricks' "You've Got Just What I Need," "Daddy Rollin' Stone," and even his rendition of "Ol' Man River" are strong enough to carry the collection, but Til's ethereal "So Long" and especially "Night and Day" (an update of the Ravens' 1947 single) are not to be missed. Also aboard are the re-formed Clovers doing "He Sure Could Hypnotize" in a beguiling, ebullient performance. Also included are such lesser-known outfits as the Universals and the Magnetics, all of whom were every bit as solid in the recording department -- thanks to Abramson -- as Ricks and Til. The sound is excellent and the annotation, though a bit disjointed and sketchy at times from poor editing, is fairly thorough.

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