Various Artists

Legendary Dig Masters, Vol. 4

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This excellent collection compiles 24 tracks from the vaults of bandleader Johnny Otis' California-based label. Dig started life as Ultra, eventually turning into Eldo, all local Los Angeles concerns, and this volume shines the spotlight on the many vocal groups that waxed for the label. Otis had long been recording doo wop (he discovered the Robins, who later coalesced into the Coasters) getting groups like the Lamplighters, the Shieks, the Sultans, the Cats and the Tenderfoots hooked up with labels such as Peacock, Aladdin and Federal. This volume in chronicling the label features rare singles from the Phantoms, the Gladiators, Arthur Lee Maye and the Crowns, Julie Stevens and the Premiers, Little Julian Herrera, and the Ding Dongs, who turn out to be the Robins recording under a fake name. Pulled from Otis' home master tape stash, 11 of the 24 tracks collected are previously unissued and in some cases, the true identity of the group singing is not known for certain, the three sides by the mysterious Jayos being the most obvious example. Dig may have been a small-ime concern when compared to the R&B majors of the day, but Johnny Otis' productions were first-class all the way, and this volume documents some of the best the label had to offer.

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