The Five Crowns

Rainbow Sessions

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Fourteen songs recorded between 1952 and 1955 for Rainbow Records, showing off the daunting stylistic range of this quintet. "A Star" is a glorious piece of soaring R&B, but the real surprise is "Good Luck Darling," a jump number with a romping piano that shows off a side of the group often overlooked in favor of their elegant harmonizing. "You're My Inspiration" is perhaps the group's high point in the harmony category. They also show off their bluesier side on numbers like "$19.50 Bus," which -- for reasons that likely will never be fully understood -- was released but never promoted. "Ooh Wee Baby," which was Wilbur Paul and Dock Green singing with the Duvals but originally credited to the Five Crowns, is the best rock & roll song here, a midtempo dance number with a solid beat, tasteful sax, and unpretentious harmonies -- it is closer in spirit to the later Drifters' sound than many of the early Five Crowns numbers. The Duvals/Five Crowns "You Came to Me" is the song that really defines the group, despite the fact that two-fifths of the group weren't on it -- those achingly beautiful falsetto lead vocals and the elegant backing are what the best doo wop is about. "Man From the Moon," aone of four numbers here that didn't see the light of day until the mid-1980s, is also a wonderfully smooth piece of commercial R&B. "I Don't Have to Hunt No More" is almost a throwback to the best of 1950s pop, but the sax solo in the middle is a killer. "At the Fair" is almost worth the price of the disc by itself, an outtake that shows off the group's harmony, jump, and blues sides all at once. The sound quality fluctuates, but overall it's fairly consistent, and anyone who regards themselves as a serious Drifters or general R&B fan should own this disc, if only to hear what some future Drifters were doing around the time the Drifters were just getting together and recording for the first time.

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