The Four Freshmen

The Stars in Our Eyes

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On their 18th outing, the Four Freshmen -- Ross Barbour (vocals), Bob Flanigan (vocals/trombone), Ken Albers (vocals/trumpet/arranger), and Bill Comstock (vocals) -- remade a dozen sides that were originally significant entries for other combos. Although the incarnation of the group was the fourth since 1954, this was the longest-running lineup, performing together for a total of 13 years (1960-1973). Released in 1962, Stars in Our Eyes is an apropos heading for the project, as the quartet is joined by Dick Reynolds on these overhauls of a wide variety of material, such as the simple and stunning interpretation of the traditional folk melody "Tom Dooley," a concurrent hit for their Capitol Records labelmates the Kingston Trio. The intimacy of their refined and densely packed harmonies blends effortlessly with Reynolds' sturdy and lush orchestrations. "Standing On the Corner" is particularly prominent, as the Freshmen contrast their sound with the quick tempo and swinging score, not to mention an uncanny ability to switch styles immediately and seemingly midstream, one example of which is the regally displayed and complex fusing of vocals into a singular expression. "Teach Me Tonight" takes on a slightly Latin feel punctuated by space age bachelor pad exotica-influenced percussion, further exhibiting the perfect match of Reynolds' versatility and the Freshmen's unmistakable presence. In addition to being consummate singers, Albers and Flanigan contribute as instrumentalists. The opener, "Shangri-La," is marked by a sublime solo from Albers, while "Sentimental Me" and "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" display the distinguished trombone of Flanigan. For their next album, 1962's The Swingers, the conducting and arranging chores would be deferred to Bill Holman, whose association with the Four Freshman dated back nearly a decade. [In 2000, Collectors' Choice Music paired up Stars in Our Eyes and The Swingers on a two-fer CD, making both available for the first time on compact disc.]

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