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Sunday, 8 September 2019

The Golden Groups Volume 47 - The Best Of Apollo Records Part 1

Side One:
01. One More Time - The Mel-O-Dots
02. Just How Long - The Mel-O-Dots
03. Rock My Baby - The Mel-O-Dots
04. Baby Won't You Please Come Home - The Mel-O-Dots
05. Angel Baby - Billy Austin and His Hearts
06. Night Has Come - Billy Austin and His Hearts
07. Oh But She Did - The Opals
08. My Heart's Desire - The Opals

Side Two:
01. Do Let That Dream Come True - The Jumping Jacks
02. Long Haired Raggedy Rascal - The Jumping Jacks
03. Why Oh Why - The Jumping Jacks
04. Julocka Jolly - The Jumping Jacks
05. I Just Love You So - Lydia Larson & The River Rovers
06. Bald Headed Daddy - Lydia Larson & The River Rovers
07. Little Side Car - The Larks
08. Tippin' In - The Larks

I came across this LP in a local second hand shop a couple of months ago and just couldn't resist. When Relic were issuing these Golden Groups LPs way back in nineteen canteen I didn't buy a single one. Now I'm the proud possessor of two, thanks to recent second hand purchases. See here for Volume 6 - The Best Of Ember Records.

I've been on an Apollo kick in my own recent listening so this collection fits in nicely with that. It's definitely a mixed bag, though. Here's a quick run through -

The Mel-O-Dots release on the Apollo popular series has a good rockin' A-Side in "One More Time" which features a rather strange fairground organ break. What were they thinking of? B-Side "Just How Long" is an effective ballad in the Ink Spots style. The unreleased "Rock My Baby" does indeed rock along in fine style until that ghastly organ blasts in. "Baby Won't You Please Come Home" is a slow harmony pleader which thankfully remains organ free. Again there are echos of the Ink Spots and early 1940s harmony groups.

The releases by Billy Austin and His Hearts and The Opals are both excellent R&B vocal group discs. The uptempo "Angel Baby" has a tenor sax break by Charlie "Little Jazz" Ferguson."Night Has Come" is a fine weepy. Both Opals' sides are very good indeed. "Oh But She Did" - uptempo effort featuring a hoarse voiced lead with good guitar licks. "My Heart's Desire" - soft and romantic. Classic vocal group sound.

The Jumping Jacks. Good golly almighty what fresh hell is this? How could anyone believe that this sort of thing would sell in 1953? Overwrought cloying bollocks with kitsch organ backing. The unreleased sides are better by virtue of the fact that they fairly rattle along. It's hard to believe that The Jumping Jacks originated from the same neighbourhood as The "5" Royales. It's even harder to believe that after recording this dross they transmogrified into The Romeos and recorded some excellent R&B in a much more contemporary style, especially their two knowingly suggestive sides "Somebody's Been Plowing My Mule" and "Oh Baby Oh." Another good'un by The Romeos is "I Beg You Please" which is a world away from what's on offer by The Jumping Jacks. These Romeos sides were featured on Relic's second part of the Apollo Records story.

Lydia Larson's unreleased "I Just Love You So" borders on chaos and doesn't quite cut it but she gets us bumpin' and grindin' with "Bald Headed Daddy" which drips with sleaze. Girl group The River Rovers chant away in the background in an el primitivo style.

This LP ends with two contrasting sides from one of the great vocal groups.The Larks weigh in with the bluesy double entendre "Little Side Car" and a jazzy vocal version of "Tippin' In" which was originally composed as an instrumental by Bobby Smith for the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra and was subsequently re-recorded by Bobby and his own small group on Apollo. Here he is again backing The Larks on their sophisticated version to take us out swingin'. Solid, man!

Original Release Details

The Mel-O-Dots: One More Time / Just How Long (Apollo 1192) released May 1952, in Apollo's 1000 "Popular" series. Jazz and R&B releases were in the 350-500 series. Rock My Baby; Baby Won't You Please Come Home - unreleased.

Billy Austin and His Hearts: Angel Baby / Night Has Come (Apollo 444) released December 1952. With Charlie Ferguson, His Tenor and Orchestra.

The Opals: Oh But She Did / My Heart's Desire (Apollo 462) released October 1954.

The Jumping Jacks: Do Let That Dream Come True / Why Oh Why (Lloyds 101) released June 1953. Long Haired Raggedy Rascal; Julocka Jolly (?) - unreleased.

Lydia Larson & The River Rovers: Delta Drag / Bald Headed Daddy (Apollo 432) released November 1951. "Delta Drag" was credited to The River Rovers. Both sides backed by the Bill Harvey Orchestra. "I Just Love You So" - unreleased.

The Larks: Little Side Car / Hey, Little Girl (Apollo 429) released August 1951. With Bobby Smith's Orchestra. If It's A Crime / Tippin' In (Lloyds 110) released June 1954. With Bobby Smith's Orchestra.


Bob Mac said...

Thanks BW, now I also have two volumes of this series.... :-)

boogiewoody said...

So have I, Bob!