"Mannish Boy" was the name of one of Muddy Waters' roughest songs, but the Newcomers never seemed to swagger. The second-line Stax/Volt act racked up a few R&B hits between 1969 and 1974, all characterized by their cheerful harmonies -- a down-home Southern variation on the exuberance of the Jackson 5. This separated the Newcomers from their Stax brethren and that also makes Mannish Boys, a 2013 collection from Ace that contains 24 cuts from the vocal group, including several demos and unreleased cuts, so much fun. Some of this has the limber, elastic funk of prime Stax, but it's all driven by the cheerful swagger of the vocal quartet, a group that was enthusiastically existing within its time, incorporating trends -- whether it was punchy horns, enveloping strings, or syncopated disco beats, and sometimes even the slow, late-night urban blues of the early '70s -- whenever it had the chance. If the Newcomers never quite had a song that turned heads, they often mined an appealing sound, particularly toward the end of their career when they started to look to Philadelphia instead of Detroit as their touchstone, and there winds up being a lot to like on this collection of their best and unheard tunes.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine