The Harptones

The Complete Recordings

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The title of this 18-song collection is a little misleading, as it only contains the songs that the group did for the Bruce Record Co., but that's really good enough, as far as it goes -- those sides, released between 1953 and 1955 (including both the 45 rpm version of "Sunday Kind of Love" and its slightly slower, more luxuriant 78 rpm version), are the foundation of the harmony vocal group's legacy. The sound, remastered by Walter DeVenne (of Relic records fame), is excellent, bringing out every nuance of the achingly beautiful harmony singing on ballads like "Sunday Kind of Love" and "I'll Never Tell" and the full, thumping impact of rockers like "High Flying Baby" and "Mambo Boogie," and mixing the two attributes -- the soaring harmonies and the beat of their rhythm section (augmented with some beautifully understated electric guitar) -- on an exquisitely slow-paced version of Ivory Joe Hunter's "I Almost Lost My Mind" and Raoul Cita's "It Was Just for Laughs." The sound is astonishingly good, and the annotation by Donn Fileti gives the best account yet written of the group's early history.

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