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Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Rockin' 5 Royales (Apollo LP 488)

Side A:
01. Baby Don't Do It
02. Too Much Lovin'
03. Baby Take All Of Me
04. Courage To Love
05. You Know I Know
06. Help Me Somebody

Side B:
01. What's That
02. Laundromat Blues
03. All Righty
04. I Wanna Thank You
05. Put Something In It
06. I Like It Like That

Thanks to Marv for this "reconstruction" of an LP originally released by Apollo in 1959. Before Marv sent this collection in, I had no idea that Apollo actually issued LPs. On closer investigation on the Both Sides Now website I discovered that Apollo had released LPs intermittently during the 1950s and on into the early 1960s but there was little to interest fans of R&B except this compilation of sides by The "5" Royales. Joan drew my attention to a short series of 10-inch LPs released by Apollo in 1951-52 which compiled some tremendous jazz tracks from the 1940s, so stand by for Be Bop Wino reconstructions of some of these albums.

It is possible that Apollo released this LP to compete with the King LP "The "5" Royales Sing For You" which was also released in 1959. The "5" Royales had been the subject of an acrimonious lawsuit between Apollo and King in 1954 when the latter company lured the group to its roster and for a period of months both companies were issuing "5" Royales records.

Now normally on a vocal group post I refer readers to Marv Goldberg's site which is the go-to place for info on R&B vocal groups. Unfortunately there isn't a "5" Royales article on Marv's site, but I can refer you to this excellent article on the group by Steve Walker which is on the Blackcat Rockabilly website from the Netherlands.

As for this LP - it's one of the great R&B compilations, for you can hardly go wrong with the material recorded by The "5" Royales on Apollo during their stay on the label which lasted little more than two years. No vocal group of the time wore their gospel roots more on their sharp-suited sleeves than The "5" Royales, who had started out as far back as 1942 as The Royal Sons Quintet, a gospel group which included sandpaper voiced lead tenor Johnny Tanner and bass vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Lowman Pauling, both of whom were still in the group when it was picked up by Apollo Records in 1951.

It was Apollo which somehow persuaded the Royal Sons to record secular material, firstly as The Royals and then as The "5" Royales. Success came quickly with their second release, "Baby Don't Do It" racing up the R&B chart to the number one spot in February 1953. Their next record "Help Me Somebody" / "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy" was a double sided hit, both sides charting with "Help Me Somebody" reaching number one in June 1953. Their next record, "Too Much Lovin'" reached the number four spot in the R&B chart in August 1953, but the double entendre "Laundromat Blues" on the other side of the disc was banned by some radio stations.

The "5" Royales finished 1953 as the top selling R&B act of that year but 1954 brought far less success and considerable upheaval as the group left Apollo for King in April. Their last chart entry for Apollo was "I Do" (Apollo 452) which reached number 6 in the R&B chart in February 1954. Their last recording session for Apollo was on the 1st April 1954. On the 10th June 1954 the group had their first recording session for King. Apollo continued to release "5" Royales singles until February 1955 when the backlog of recordings ran out with "Six O'Clock In The Morning" /  "With All Your Heart" (Apollo 467).

Decades later many people would come to think of the "5" Royales as primarily a King act, thanks mainly to three classic songs they recorded for the label - "Think", "Tell The Truth" and "Dedicated To The One I Love" which achieved fame through cover versions by, respectively, James Brown, Ray Charles and The Shirelles, but it was with Apollo that the "5" Royales enjoyed their greatest commercial success, back in that annus mirabilis, 1953.

This reconstituted LP allows us to enjoy one of the greatest of the R&B vocal groups at their peak. Johnny Tanner's pleading, soulful vocals, Lowman Pauling's songwriting (he didn't become a guitar hero until 1957) and last but very much not least, Charlie "Little Jazz" Ferguson's dynamite backing make these recordings stone classics.

Original Release Information for the tracks on Apollo LP 488

You Know I Know / Courage To Love - Apollo 441 - August 1952

Baby Don't Do It / Take All Of Me - Apollo 443 - December 1952

Crazy, Crazy, Crazy / Help Me Somebody - Apollo 446 - April 1953

Too Much Lovin' (Much Too Much) / Laundromat Blues - Apollo 448 - July 1953

All Righty / I Want To Thank You - Apollo 449 - October 1953

Cry Some More / I Like It Like That - Apollo 454 - April 1954

Let Me Come Back Home / What's That - Apollo 458 - June 1954

Six O' Clock In The Morning / With All Your Heart* - Apollo 467 - February 1955

* retitled "Put Something In It" on Apollo LP 488

Apollo LP 488 released in late 1959.

Recommended listening:

All Righty! - The complete Apollo recordings including gospel releases as The Royal Sons Quintet. Westside CD WESM 591. 29 tracks. Released in 1999.


Bob Mac said...

Thanks BW for another excellent reconstruction, very interesting read as well.

Steve Stelling said...

I love these guys. I've always been crazy about the stuff on King when Pauling's guitar gets all kinds of raucous focus, so I'm not too familiar with these Apollo cuts. Thanks again for the great music.