The Showmen

It Will Stand

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Collectables' collection, It Will Stand, hardly stands as a complete overview of the fine vocal group's work. Still, at 16 tracks, it stands as the closest available in the CD age; especially since it focuses on their best, most popular work for Minut records. This means it bypasses their handful of sides for labels like Swan and Itzy, and several smaller imprints, but it does have three tracks cut for Instant, along with five previously unissued tracks (including alternate takes). Complete it may not be, but it's satisfying all the same; capturing why the group is beloved by many collectors of vocal harmony and beach music. Foremost among their jewels, of course, is the title track: a swinging testament to rock and roll's lasting impact. It may only have been a small hit upon its initial release in 1961 -- gaining a few more fans in its 1964 re-release -- but it's a cult favorite; thanks to its sweet tribute to rock and roll, and to lead singer General Norman Johnson's powerhouse lead vocals. Johnson later came to prominence as the leader of the Chairmen of the Board; where his stuttering, exuberant vocals propelled the group to several hits including "Give Me Just a Little More Time," but his vocals are nearly as good here; illustrating how this band was one of the key acts in the transition between doo wop and soul. The harmonies, and several of the songs, are very much in the tradition of late-'50s street-corner harmony, but Johnson's forceful vocals and the bouncy up-tempo material are much closer to the pop-soul that would later form the core of mid-'60s soul. Yes, a few of the songs are a little generic, but many are either dynamic or romantic, which is why this collection is necessary for serious soul listeners until a better, logical, more comprehensive, compilation comes along.

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