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Monday, 21 December 2015

The Clovers - Five Cool Cats

Side One
1 - One Mint Julep
2 - Good Lovin'
3 - Lovey Dovey
4 - I Got My Eyes On You
5 - Down In The Alley
6 - Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash
7 - In The Morning Time
8 - Don't You Know I Love You

Side Two
1 - Blue Velvet
2 - Love Bug
3 - If I Could Be Loved By You
4 - Nip Sip
5 - Devil Or Angel
6 - Your Tender Lips
7 - So Young
8 - All About You

Download from:

First time for this LP on Be Bop Wino, which frankly I can't believe. I remember getting this record as a Christmas present (along with The Drifters' "Bip Bam") thirty years ago. Just where the heckity heck has the time gone?

In a fit of excessive enthusiasm a couple of posts ago I may have declared that I would be posting the greatest drunken R&B vocal group ever. And it's not The Lamplighters! Step forward Atlantic's finest, The Clovers - the top selling R&B act between 1950 and 1955. The 6th best selling R&B act of the 1950s, behind Fats Domino, The Platters, Clyde McPhatter, Chuck Berry and Little Richard (if you're wondering).

Now let me make it plain that I'm not casting aspersions on the sobriety or otherwise of any members of this magnificent vocal group. I was in fact referring to the classic series of discs they released between 1951 and 1955 which are redolent of the consequences of hanging around in a bar all day. Hymns to lost love or, even worse, the catastrophic results of just that one mint julep. Records that reek of booze and tinkling barroom piano (played by Harry Van Walls) and squawking inebriated tenor saxes. Classic numbers that belong right up there with the alcoholic anthems of Amos Milburn.

Label shots courtesy Joan K
You get a good dose of that in this collection which is an overview of their Atlantic sides between 1952 and 1958 and which therefore charts their progress (?) from sleazy and rumbustious R&B to the smoother pop sound of the second half of the '50s. It's a good collection despite the inclusion of saccharine pop numbers, and the back cover has classy liner notes by Clive Anderson.

Back in the 1990s the UK Sequel label licensed Atlantic material and released two Clovers CDs based around their 1950s Atlantic LPs "The Clovers" and "Dance Party" but each with many extra tracks. If, like myself, you had the opportunity and the good taste to buy these CDs then you possess just about everything they ever recorded for Atlantic. If you upload the said CDs to your computer and compile a chronological playlist on your music player of choice then you can experience the sheer joy of their 1951 - 1955 output. If, like me, you have spent most of the day hanging around in bars then your listening experience will be considerably enhanced.

The pop material of their later Atlantic sides can be dismissed with a mouse click if you so wish, but do give "Down In The Alley" a listen.

LP covers courtesy Joan K
Personnel include Buddy Bailey, Harold Lucas, Matthew McQuater, Harold Winley, Bill Harris, Charlie White and Billy Mitchell.

Marv Goldberg has a three part Clovers story on his great R&B Notebooks blog, starting here:

Get yourself over to Unca Marvy's and get hip!

Boogiewoody's favourite Clovers tracks (label number and release date):

Don't You Know I Love You So / Skylark (Atlantic 934, April 1951)
Fool, Fool, Fool (Atlantic 944, August 1951)
One Mint Julep / In The Middle Of The Night (Atlantic 963, February 1952)
Ting-A-Ling / Wonder Where My Baby's Gone (Atlantic 969, May 1952)
I Played The Fool / Hey Miss Fannie (Atlantic 977, September 1952)
Crawlin' / Yes It's You (Atlantic 989, February 1953)
Good Lovin' (Atlantic 1000, June 1953)
Comin' On / The Feeling Is So Good (Atlantic 1010, October 1953)
Lovey Dovey / Little Mama (Atlantic 1022, February 1954)
Your Cash Ain't Nothing But Trash (Atlantic 1035, June 1954)
Blue Velvet (Atlantic 1052, December 1954)
In The Morning Time (Atlantic 1060, May 1955)
Nip Sip (Atlantic 1073, August 1955)
Down In The Alley (Atlantic 1152, August 1957, recorded March 1953)

The above discographical information is from Nick Tosches' "Unsung Heroes Of Rock 'n' Roll, except for "Down In The Alley," the information on which is from the liner notes by Gordon Skadberg and George Povall on the Sequel CD "The Clovers" (RSA CD 857).

Click on the link below to listen to "In The Morning Time":

In The Morning Time - The Clovers

Click on the link below to listen to "Nip Sip":

Nip Sip - The Clovers

Those 1997 Sequel CDs (RSA CD 857 and RSA CD 858). Familiar artwork and 49 tracks in all!

Nick Tosches' "Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll" chapter on The Clovers, memorably titled "Absalom, Absalom! Doo-Wah, Doo-Wah!" is a hoot. To use his own words, it "beehooves beholding." Have a cool Yule, y'all!


Chi-Town said...

Many thanks for the Clovers, Boogiewoody. One of the greats of doo-wop.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks, Chi-Town. They are definitely right up there with the early Drifters, The Dominoes, The 5 Royales, The Five Keys, The Midnighters, etc.