A Few Short Histories
Through The Years
In June of 1954 Luna Records issues #10-101, its very first recording by a group called The Crystals. The songs are "Come To Me Darling" and "Squeeze Me Baby". Soon after its release they find another group called The Crystals exists and they record for the DeLuxe label. Six weeks after its initial release the record is re-issued as Luna 5001 by The Opals and the label is now identified as a subsidiary of Apollo Records. In October of that year The Opals record again, this time for the parent label Apollo and #462 is released - "Ooh But She Did" and "My Hearts Desire". That seems to be the entire history of The Opals on record.
In August of 1954, Aladdin records announces the signing to its label of the vocal group known as The Dodgers. Soon after #3259 is released - "Let's Make A Whole Lot Of Love" / "You Make Me So Happy" are the songs. In January of 1955 the group records "Cat Hop" and a great version of "Drip Drop" on Aladdin #3282. Within weeks after the second recording The Dodgers drop from sight and are not heard from again.
In a June 1956 advertising note, Vanguard Records released an LP album entitled "A Night At The Apollo" starring George Kirby and Moms Mabley. Included is a portion of the famed Amateur Night presentation which according to the notice features vocalist Doreen Vaughn and a vocal group identified as The Heartbreakers. Could this be the Paul Himmelstein group ?
In January of 1950 the group records "Red Sails In The Sunset" and "It Ain't Right" for Jubilee #5021. The two male two female group is featured in advertising by Jubilee along with The Orioles during the year. In April Jubilee #5024 is listed as by Billy Matthews & The Balladeers. The songs are "If You Only Knew" and "I Never Knew I Loved You". In July Billy Matthews records as a single artist - #5027 - "The World Goes On" and "Teardrops In Your Eyes". The Balladeers now disappear from the scene.
In April of 1952 Jerry Blaine the president of Jubilee records announces the signing of the Baltimore vocal group. The next month Jubilee #5079 is released - "I'm A Sentimental Fool" and "Sitting By The River". The record does fairly well in certain parts of the country, especially in the New Orleans area. In September the Marylanders record #5091 for Jubilee with the Buddy Lucas orchestra. The songs are "Make Me Thrill Again" and "Please Love Me". This record does not do as well as their first and the next Jubilee release is in March of 1953 on #5114 - "Fried Chicken" and "Good Old 99". This record does well in the Southeast and in support the group goes on tour which includes a well received show at the Royal Theater in their home town of Baltimore. However nothing more is heard of the Marylanders, even though both sides of their last record are part of many R & B compilation albums and CDs through the years.
The Four Jacks
Not to be confused with The Jacks on RPM, this group recorded for Federal Records in the early fifties. The first release was "You Met A Fool" and "Goodbye Baby" on #12075. This was followed by #12079 - "I Ain't Coming Back Anymore" and "Sure Cure For The Blues". Both of these songs had two female leads : Shirley Haven and Cora Williams. Federal #12082 featured Lil Greenwood, Little Willie Littlefield and The Four Jacks on "My Last Hour" and "Monday Morning Blues". A tune with an interesting title "The Last Of The Good Rockin' Men" was released on #12087 paired with "I'll Be Home Again". Federal #12092 featured Shirley Haven with the group on "Troubles Of My Own" and "Stop Fooling Around". The final recording by the group (all in 1952) was on #12093 with Lil Greenwood - "Grandpa Can Boogie Too" and "Never Again". These half dozen recordings for Federal in a ten month period seem to be the existing legacy of the group known as The Four Jacks.
The Dell-Tones close out 1953 by appearing at Harlem's Club Baby Grand and celebrating their recording contract with the Coral Record label. Nothing evidently comes of that however because 1954 finds them on the independent label Rainbow with an April release #244 "I'm Not In Love With You" and "Little Short Daddy" with the Kelly Owens orchestra. Most of those "in the know" have said that this is the group that recorded for Baton records the following year with Della Simpson as lead singer. The first outing is on Baton #212 - "Baby Say You Love Me" and "Don't Be Long" with Maurice Simon's combo. They close out 1955 in grand style at the Apollo Theater with The Orioles. The Dell-Tones tour Canada in the spring and are booked for the summer in Atlantic City. Baton #223 is released in the spring - "My Special Love" and "Believe It". The group does appearances in Miami in June. Not long after that the Dell-Tones do a disappearing act and are not heard from again.
The Mellow Keys
In March of 1956 George Goldner announces the signing of The Mellow Keys to his Gee label. In May Gee #1014 is released - "I'm Not A Deceiver" and "Listen Baby". Almost as soon as the record is released the group becomes a footnote to the New York scene.
The Kansas City Tomcats
In October of 1955 the group auditions for Jubilee Records and is soon recorded. The group consists of Lucky Enis, Eddie Saunders, Brooks Lewis, Walter Spriggs, and Jimmy Waters. In November Jubilee releases the record on its Josie label as #786 - "Meet Me Meet Me Baby" and "Nobody Knows". And nobody knows what happened to the Tom Cats after that one record. I can remember WINS pop meister Jack Lacey picking it out as the record to watch, so it did get some measure of air play. Walter Spriggs showed up a year later as a solo performer doing "I Pawned Everything" for Atco.
In January of 1952 Jubilee Records signs a female vocal quartet called The Enchanters. Their first recording is "Today Is Your Birthday" and "How Could You" with the Buddy Lucas Orchestra on #5080. The Enchanters play the big Amsterdam Benefit show at the Apollo Theater at Year's end. It also was the end for the Enchanters as they are not heard from again.
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