Various Artists

The Ebb Records Story, Vol. 1: The Group Era (1957-1959)

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Ebb Records, run by Lee Rupe (the ex-wife of Specialty Records' owner Art Rupe), was a minor Los Angeles rock and R&B label of the late 1950s. Its biggest hit was the infectious Hollywood Flames' up-tempo doo wop tune "Buzz-Buzz-Buzz," which leads off this collection of R&B vocal group releases on the label between 1957-59. And, as is often the case on these kinds of collections, the one familiar hit is the best and most memorable song by far. The 30 tracks are almost wholly routine doo wop, with a decent balance between fast numbers and ballads, and pretty hackneyed chord progressions throughout. One thirsts for a bit of unexpected innovation, a bit of outstanding quality, and is largely left dry, ears perking up at the slightest differentiation, like the Ebbtones' calypso-influenced "Trinidad Woman." The Twilighters, with future funkster Charles Wright as leader, put some exaggerated Elvis Presley inflections into the delivery of "Live Like a King"; the Zion Travelers, who close the CD with both sides of a 1957 single, were (in contrast to the other artists on the disc) gospel. Eleven of the songs were previously unissued, a logical enough bonus considering that the compilation's allure is limited to doo wop collectors.

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