The Five Keys / The Nitecaps

The Five Keys & the Nitecaps: The Best of Doo Wop Classics, Vol. 2

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Bob Jones was one of those rock & roll true believers who existed entirely behind the scenes. A record collector who parlayed his love for old records into a career mastering for such specialty reissue imprints as Charly, Ace, and Bear Family, he also ran his own vinyl-only reissue label called Detour Records in the '80s. Jones dug deep into the vaults of several labels and assembled tight, thematic collections that packed a real punch, but unfortunately they, like the 45s he compiled, never saw a revival in the CD age. As a tribute to the departed Jones -- he died of cancer in 2009 -- Bear Family reissued five of these collections in 2014, including this 1989 LP, The Best of Doo Wop Classics, Vol. 2. The first Best of Doo Wop Classics was a Du Droppers compilation from 1988 -- the Du Droppers are heavily featured on Groove Jumping, a Detour comp from 1983 -- whereas this contains four sides from the Five Keys (plus an alternate take of "When Will My Troubles End") and 11 tracks from the Nitecaps. The Nitecaps were from Detroit, the Five Keys were from Virginia, and they do have slightly different feels; the Five Keys are a little grittier and the Nitecaps are nimbler, sometimes sounding a bit sweeter and more adept at novelties like "Bamboo Rock & Roll" and "Snap, Crackle & Pop," but also capable of sounding quite raucous. Both groups benefitted from a Groove house band that often included the great guitarist Mickey Baker (and sometimes King Curtis on sax), which helped give all of these records a live-wire jump that remains infectious. It's this visceral rush that makes these rare doo wop records worth seeking out.

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