Thanks to Joan K. for these sound files and a folder of label shots and cover scans.
Founded in Cleveland by Harvey Fuqua, Prentiss Barnes and Danny Coggins as “The Crazy Sounds”, the trio became a quartet with the addition of Bobby Lester. In 1952 Alan Freed became their manager and they made their first recordings in 1953 for Freed’s Champagne label. You can find one of these sides, “I’ve Been Your Dog”, on this blog on the post “I Always Remember”. Use the search box and you’ll find the album!
The disc failed to make any impact and Coggins left to be replaced by Alexander Graves. In September 1953 the group signed for Chance Records who issued a series of their sides until September 1954. Some of these Chance recordings will be included in a future post on this blog. September ’54 turned out to be a momentous month for both Freed and The Moonglows as it was at this time that Freed moved to WINS in New York and The Moonglows signed for Chess Records in Chicago.
One of the sides from their first Chess session was “Sincerely” which reached number 1 in the R&B charts and number 20 in the pop charts. A cover version by The McGuire Sisters was a number 1 pop hit. The Moonglows career continued with regular releases on Chess and regular appearances in Alan Freed rock ‘n’ roll stage shows. In 1956 they appeared along with Freed in “Rock, Rock, Rock” one of the earliest rock ‘n’ roll exploitation movies.
The tracks on this album (released in 1958 along with two EPs) were recorded between 1956 and 1958. The original Moonglows broke up at the beginning of 1959. I bought a vinyl repro of this album back in the 1980s expecting some rockin’ R&B and I still remember the disappointment I felt when I played the disc only to find that the majority of the tracks were ballads with string accompaniment. Now that I’ve listened to it again in the line of duty as it were (the sacrifices I make for bebopwino fans!), I find that I really like it. Maybe my taste is more eclectic, or maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to those echo-drenched ballads recorded by Gene Ammons, but I’m definitely in the mood for this kind of stuff. Unlike recordings by certain other R&B artists in the second half of the 50s, the arrangements here are subtle and compliment the vocals (mostly by Fuqua).
Download with confidence and await the rockin’ side of the Moonglows in a future post! Enjoy Joan’s sights ‘n’ sounds! Oh, and don’t forget to read the full Moonglows story on Marv Goldberg’s site. Just click on the “Unca Marvy’s R&B Page” link in the side bar. Tell him Boogiewoody sent ya.
Ripped from vinyl at 192/256 kbps. Password = greaseyspoon
1. Love Is A River
2. Blue Velvet
3. This Love
4. When I'm With You
5. I'll Stop Wanting You
6. Don't Say Goodbye
7. Ten Commandments Of Love
8. Kiss Me Baby
9. Penny Arcade
10. Mean Old Blues
11. Sweeter Than Words
12. Cold Feet
Here's a selection of Joan's scans:
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