1. Money Honey
2. Let The Boogie Woogie Roll
3. Don't Dog Me
5. Such A Night
7. Warm Your Heart
8. The Way I Feel
1. Bip Bam
2. Honey Love
3. Whatcha' Gonna Do
4. If I Didn't Love You Like I Do
5. There You Go
6. Try Try Baby
7. Everyone's Laughing
8. Three Thirty Three
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Clyde McPhatter And The Drifters - perhaps the apotheosis of vocal group R&B? With Clyde McPhatter as Theos? Whatever you may make of that (remember - Google is your friend), the recordings contained in this utterly fantastic slab of vinyl certainly represent some kind of peak in the history of R&B vocal group performance.
And it all happened over what now seems an incredibly short time period - the group's first recording session took place at the end of June 1953. The results proved unsatisfactory and a drastic change in personnel was effected before the second session in August 1953. Four more sessions followed, with the final one taking place in October 1954. Seven singles were released between September 1953 and August 1955 by which time Clyde McPhatter was no longer a member of The Drifters, having made his last appearance as an official member of the group in January 1955. But the star that shone so briefly shone so very, very brightly as you can hear on this 1984 UK release on Edsel.
On the previous posts on The Dominoes, we saw that Clyde McPhatter left that group in April 1953. His absence from the Dominoes lineup was noticed by Atlantic Records honcho Ahmet Ertegun when he attended a concert at Birdland in New York City. Ertegun was a huge admirer of McPhatter's gospel drenched high tenor and he quickly set about tracking the singer down, and soon had him signed, sealed and delivered to what was already the top selling R&B label in the country.
Clyde recruited the first set of Drifters in May 1953 and the following personnel went into the recording studio at the end of June - Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), David Baughan (tenor), William Anderson (tenor), David Baldwin (baritone) and James Johnson (bass). The four recordings made that day proved to be disappointing with only one track, "Lucille", ever being released - as the B side of "Such a Night" in January 1954.
A new set of Drifters was soon put together by Clyde. The Thrasher brothers, Gerhart and Andrew, both gospel singers with The Silvertones and The Thrasher Wonders were the first to join. Another gospel singer Bill Pinckney ( formerly of The Jerusalem Stars and The Southern Knights) was recruited and the line up was completed by the addition of Willie Ferbee, the only member of the group who did not come from a gospel background.
This group went into the recording studio on August 9th 1953. From this session "Money Honey" b/w "The Way I Feel" was chosen as the group's first record to be released in September 1953 and in November it was top of the R&B record chart. Bass singer Willie Ferbee left the group after this session and Bill Pinckney moved into the bass spot. The group lined up as follows for the remaining four Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters sessions: Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Gerhart Thrasher (tenor), Andrew Thrasher (baritone) and Bill Pinckney (bass). These sessions took place in November 1953 and February, March and October 1954.
In January 1954 "Such a Night" / "Lucille" was released with the A side reaching number 5 in the R&B charts and B side "Lucille" surprisingly reaching number 7. The third Drifters release didn't appear until May 1954 - "Honey Love" / "Warm Your Heart". Not only did "Honey Love" top the R&B charts, it also reached number 21 in the pop charts. By this time Clyde had been drafted although as his first posting was to Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was still able to attend a recording session in October and perform at some of the more important live dates. Dave Baughan who had been present at the first failed recording session took Clyde's place at most live appearances.
Single number four was released in October 1954 - "Someday You''ll Want Me To Want You" / "Bip Bam", reaching number seven in the R&B charts. In November 1954 "White Christmas" / "Bells Of St. Mary's" was released for the upcoming festive season, reaching number two in the R&B charts. Around this time a second lead tenor was recruited to accompany Dave Baughan at live appearances - Johnny Moore.
Clyde's last live appearances as a member of The Drifters were in January 1955 among them being Alan Freed's first live New York show, The Rock and Roll Jubilee Ball. In February 1955 the sixth Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters single was released - "Gone" / "What'cha Gonna Do". The record reached number 2 in the R&B charts. Around this time Clyde decided that his future lay as a solo act. Perhaps this was the reason behind some trade adverts crediting "What'cha Gonna Do" to Clyde McPhatter with no mention of The Drifters.
On April 21st 1955, The Drifters were in the recording studio without Clyde. Dave Baughan, Gerhart Thrasher, Andrew Thrasher and Bill Pinckney were now the group personnel as Johnny Moore had left. The formal announcement that Clyde had left The Drifters for a solo career was made on July 16th. In August "Everybody's Laughing" / "Hot Ziggity" was released, credited to Clyde McPhatter despite the fact that the tracks had been recorded by Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters. On August 25th 1955, Clyde (still in the army) went into the studio to record his first genuine solo single without The Drifters - "I'm Not Worthy Of You" / "Seven Days".
According to Marv Goldberg, Bill Pinckney was adamant that The Drifters weren't particularly resentful at not being credited on "Everybody's Laughing". However one wonders what their thoughts were when during 1959 - 1960 no less than five Clyde McPhatter and The Drifters tracks were used as B sides on Clyde's solo singles, with no credit being given to his former group mates.
In August 1955 Johnny Moore returned to The Drifters and a new chapter in the history of the group began. We'll take a look at Clyde's solo career in an upcoming post.
1. Money Honey - Atlantic 1006, released September 1953.
2. Let The Boogie Woogie Roll - Atlantic 2060, released April 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Deep Sea Ball".
3. Don't Dog Me - Atlantic 2049, released January 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Give Me A Ring".
4. Gone - B side of "What'cha Gonna Do", Atlantic 1055, released February 1955.
5. Such A Night - Atlantic 1019, released January 1954.
6. Lucille - B side of "Such a Night", Atlantic 1019, released January 1954.
7. Warm Your Heart - B side of "Honey Love", Atlantic 1029, released May 1954.
8. The Way I Feel - B side of "Money Honey", Atlantic 1006, released September 1953.
9. Bip Bam - Atlantic 1043, released October 1954.
10. Honey Love - Atlantic 1029, released May 1954.
11. Whatcha' Gonna Do - Atlantic 1055, released February 1955.
12. If I Didn't Love You Like I Do - Atlantic 2082, released November 1960, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Go! Yes Go".
13. There You Go - Atlantic 2038, released September 1959, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "You Went Back On Your Word".
14. Try Try Baby - Atlantic 2028, released June 1959, credited to Clyde McPhatter. B side of "Since You Were Gone".
15. Everyone's Laughing - Atlantic 1070, released August 1955, credited to Clyde McPhatter.
16. Three Thirty Three - unissued until 1971 LP "The Drifters, Their Greatest recordings - The Early Years" (Atco SD33-375.)
|1957 Atlantic LP which mixed tracks by Clyde solo and with The Drifters|
Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks
Save The Last Dance For Me: The Musical Legacy Of The Drifters by Tony Allan
A BIG thank you to Joan K for all the vintage label and cover scans.