Wednesday

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (REISSUES AND ANTHOLOGIES) By Michael McDowell


FRIDAY KIND OF MONDAY: Finders Keepers, Keith, Lenny Welch, the McGuire Sisters, Betty Everett and Kiki Dee are among the legendary artists featured in Lazy Day, Teensville Records' thirty-track compilation CD celebrating the compositions of Tony Powers and George Fischoff. Editor/Publisher Michael McDowell takes a closer look below at this landmark compilation, including the remarkable story of how several of the tracks found their way into the proceedings (Click on above image to enlarge).

 CD AND LP REISSUES / ANTHOLOGIES
(REVIEWS ARE POSTED IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY ARTIST)




THE LOST TAPES -
Ian And Sylvia (Stony Plain)

In recent months, the catalogs of a number of veteran and legendary artists have been exponentially blessed by the discovery and release of heretofore unissued material that had been recorded decades (and in a couple of cases, more than a half century) ago. Their ranks include such storied and enormously impacting artists as the John Coltrane Quartet, Jim Reeves and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.


Joining that elite group via an accidental discovery is the extraordinarily gifted composer and vocalist duo, Victoria, British Columbia's Ian Tyson and Chatham, Ontario's Sylvia Tyson. Best known for a series of acclaimed releases on Vanguard and MGM (the latter affiliation which produced the 1967 monster classic, Lovin' Sound), Ian And Sylvia's catalog boasted a wealth of original material that saw even greater acclaim via cover versions, including Bruce And Terry's Four Strong Winds (also recorded by Bobby Bare) and Sylvia Tyson's utterly stupendous You Were On My Mind, which was the recipient of stellar interpretations by We Five and the late Crispian Saint Peters.


While recently in the attic of her home, Sylvia Tyson came across a box of quarter-inch tapes containing the material that comprises this most welcome two-CD collection. Recorded before a live audience in the early 1970s, The Lost Tapes is in terms of mission statement somewhat akin to the Let's Go album by Winnipeg, Manitoba's Guess Who, which was recorded before a live television audience and was comprised largely of the band's ad hoc interpretations of standards by the Bob Seger System, the Association, the Zombies, Evie Sands and others.


In the case of the Ian And Sylvia project, the basic mission statement is similar, in that the material stems from a wide variety of sources, augmented by the occasional original. Highlights include impassioned renditions of the Carter Family's Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Conway Twitty And Loretta Lynn's After The Fire Is Gone, Lucille Starr's The French Song, the Clancy Brothers' Little Beggarman, the Springfields' Silver Threads And Golden Needles, Buck Owens' Crying Time (a duet between Sylvia Tyson and the aforementioned Lucille Starr), Mel And Tim's Starting All Over Again, Robert Johnson's Come On In My Kitchen, Tommy McLain's Sweet Dreams, Rick Nelson's How Long, Jimmie Rodgers' Jimmie's Texas Blues, and Guy Mitchell's Heartaches By The Number, as well as their own Darcy Farrow and Four Strong Winds.


Although Ian Tyson has endured major health concerns in recent years (including cardiac surgery in 2015), he continues to perform live upon occasion. As such, in the words of a memorable cut from their 1966 Play One More album for Vanguard, Gifts Are For Giving. And this gift is a most welcome one.




MESH & LACE;
AFTER THE SNOW -
Modern English (Blixa Sounds)

Great music is timeless art, which is not subject to such periphery as chronology and geography.

That said, it can be argued that rock and roll's last collective gasp of consequence came in the final stages of what began in the mid to late 1970s as the so-called Punk / New Wave movement. By the early 1980s, the fundamental rallying cry of taking back the music from mainstream dilution had been augmented by a group of like minded yet tech savvy musicians who took their mutual affinity for the work of the pioneers of the movement a step further with impassioned and thoughtful original work that ultimately stood tall alongside the triumphs of their inspirations.

To be certain, worthwhile new music can still be found well into the current century. Even so, a bit of due diligence is often required to find it among the slough of pedestrian offerings that once again comprise the bulk of mainstream fare. 

But such was definitely not the case as the aforementioned Punk / New Wave movement was still in full swing. Rich diversity was still the order of the day, as was a penchant for solid songwriting that could be realized both technically and visually; the latter both via live performance and through the rise in impact of the music video. 

Among those who made their mark decisively in that respect was the Colchester, Essex based Modern English. Formed in 1977 as the Lepers, Modern English (as they became known by decade's end) was comprised of Robbie Grey (lead vocals), Gary McDowell (lead guitar), Stephen Walker (keyboards), Michael Conroy (bass/vocals) and Richard Brown (drums).

Loosely in solidarity in terms of mission statement with such bands as Romeo Void, Joy Division and Public Image Ltd., Modern English persevered for a season with somewhat of an elitist perspective in terms of their own vision before (as was the case with the Human League) coming to terms with the fact that their artistic inclinations could be expressed just as well via the tried and true verse, chorus and bridge template as they could through less structured means.

By 1981, Modern English was at last ready to commit that phase of their vision to a full length album. Their debut outing, Mesh & Lace was released by the 4AD label (which was also the recording home of the Cocteau Twins and Bauhaus) that year. And while lyrically the album occasionally defaulted to such all purpose come-ons as the "religion won't help" of Black Houses, in general, Mesh & Lace was as much a foretelling statement as it was a forthtelling one. To wit, the crash and burn ethic of Dance Of Devotion (A Love Song) was in turn a proclamation of redemption from the excesses of the hippie era as it was a profession of solidarity with that movement's more redeemable attributes.

All of which enabled circumstances to develop quite well for the follow up, After The Snow in 1982. With bands such as Duran Duran, A Flock Of Seagulls, Tears For Fears, Heaven 17 and the aforementioned Human League all demonstrating decisively the aesthetic benefits of eschewing genre myopia, the stage was set for Modern English to make their own mark in that respect. 

Accomplishments of those colleagues notwithstanding, even Modern English themselves could not have envisioned the decisive impact their decision to follow suit would have on the collective betterment of the movement. For while After The Snow demonstrated overall the promise of things to come, the release of the irresistible I Melt With You as the album's first single forever altered the band's course for the better.

Blessed with a strong melody that was augmented by attitude tempered by cautious optimism (a combination that worked sublimely in Human League's Don't You Want Me, Tears For Fears' Shout, Heaven 17's We Live So Fast, A Flock Of Seagulls' I Ran (So Far Away) and Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf), I Melt With You was an instant classic that ultimately became a hallmark of the movement at large.

While that monster classic single did not initiate a permanent change of course in the band's subsequent work, it was nonetheless enough in and of itself to sustain their momentum to the present day. The band continues to record and perform live prolifically, with drummer Roy Martin having succeeded Richard Brown in that capacity.

Happily, the Los Angeles-based Blixa Sounds has once again made available those crucial templates from the band's formative period in both the LP and CD configurations. The CD versions both feature copious amounts of bonus tracks, while both formats also sport upgraded cover art work by Vaughan Oliver, who had worked with the band in that capacity at the onset. 

Modern English is celebrating accordingly with an extensive live performance schedule throughout 2020. Indeed, such are the benefits when a band opts to Move In Light.


EMERALD VISION -
Jeremy Morris (JAM)

The execution of proper stewardship over a broad and diverse catalog can be a daunting task for an artist who has been blessed with creative autonomy and oversight. 

But in the case of Jeremy Morris, such challenges are all in a day's work. For decades, Morris has routinely and unwaveringly balanced such substantial responsibilities as label president, recording artist, session musician, producer, senior pastor and family man. 


The most recent proof lies in JAM Records' CD reissue of the Portage, Michigan-based Morris' long unavailable Emerald Vision album. Recorded in 1978, Emerald Vision has long been hailed by Morris' devotees as a touchstone in his vast catalog, which to date includes several dozen albums (both in the solo and ensemble setting) that regularly fluctuate between Gospel, garage rock, psych and progressive rock.


Emerald Vision is one of Morris' early forays into the Gospel / psych hybrid that has since become his trademark. Reaching out to multiple factions at once via strong original material that meets the often demanding standards of the genre's purist factions, Morris herein (and going forward) takes it to the next level by introducing the audience to a higher plane of understanding. He does so initially by presenting the Gospel in fundamental and universal terms. In the process, questions are answered, doubts are dispelled and a lot of engaging music is showcased and celebrated as a result.


With respect to the latter attribute, Emerald Vision particularly makes its mark through such mid-tempo reflective, acoustic based numbers as Stranger To Yourself, as well as such all out celebratory excursions as Out Of The Darkness and Eternal Delight. The CD reissue includes three heretofore unreleased tracks not found on the original vinyl release.


"Don't you dare wait", Morris cautions in Stranger To Yourself. Indeed, the immediacy and the appeal of the message at hand is one that, as Morris astutely pointed out midway through the proceedings, will ultimately lead to Happy Times.



COSMIC PARTNERS:
THE McCABE's TAPES - 
Michael Nesmith And Red Rhodes (7a)

Orville J. "Red" Rhodes was definitely a man whose reputation had preceded him.

In the early 1980s, Blitz Magazine paid a visit to Rhodes at his Hollywood, California-based guitar shop. In the wake of the dissolution of the First National Band several years earlier, Rhodes had opted to apply his considerable acumen as a steel guitar virtuoso and all around master of stringed instruments at large to a different career path.

Rhodes had established a formidable reputation via a series of solo recordings for the vaunted Crown and Somerset labels, followed by an acclaimed live album (recorded at the Palomino in North Hollywood) with the Detours for Era Records' affiliate Happy Tiger label. In 1969, he reached his career pinnacle by cofounding the supergroup, the First National Band with ace drummer John Ware, Monkees lead guitarist and resident visionary Michael Nesmith, and bassist extraordinaire John London (who had been an integral part of the legendary Lewis And Clarke Expedition, whose 1967 signature single. I Feel Good (I Feel Bad) featured Nesmith on backing vocals). 

Blitz Magazine had in its archives at the time a Gibson Les Paul copy electric guitar, which was in rather poor condition. However, the general consensus in the Southern California music community was that if any such instrument could be restored to fighting shape, Rhodes was the man for the job. With that, the somewhat battered guitar was brought to him for consideration.

"Sure, I'll see what I can do", Rhodes said, with a slight grin suggesting amusement at the notion of that much interest in a knock off model.

"I'll give you a call when it's ready".

True to his word, Rhodes phoned several days later to advise that the job had been completed. And in keeping with his legacy, that Les Paul copy model had been upgraded to the degree that it could have held its own with a Gibson original.

At that point, in addition to thanking him for his extraordinary work, Blitz Magazine took the opportunity to compliment Rhodes on his formidable legacy with the First National Band. The quartet's early 1970s albums and singles for RCA Victor pretty much set the standard of excellence in the country rock genre, with their 1970 Magnetic South album finishing in second place (behind Dave Edmunds' 1977 Get It! album for Swan Song) in Blitz Magazine's picks for Best Albums Of The 1970s.

With those words of praise, a slight smile of both pleasure and gratitude came over Rhodes' face.

"Come on back here", Rhodes said, gesturing towards the back room of his shop.

"I think you'll like this"

.In that back room was a well used steel guitar. Rhodes sat down in front of it and proceeded to play a magnificent version of The Crippled Lion from the Magnetic South album that brought his visitor to the brink of tears. 

Such is the power of absolute masters in their element.

As such, while it took the collective and considerable musical muscle of Ware, London and Rhodes to bring Nesmith's extraordinary musical vision to fruition, the notion of reproducing any of it in a live setting would have been inconceivable without at least the presence of Rhodes. 

All of which is evidenced in abundance in the 7a label's Cosmic Partners. Recorded live on 18 August 1973 at the Santa Monica-based McCabe's Guitar Shop (whose most recent musical guests include the legendary and beloved composer and vocalist, Evie Sands), Cosmic Partners is a rare intimate glimpse of giants in transition. By that time, the First National Band and spinoff Second National Band had run their respective courses, with Nesmith and Rhodes persevering as a duo for RCA Victor for a brief season. 

In place of Ware and London for this live date were bassist Colin Cameron and drummer Danny Lane, who, while supremely competent in those roles, nonetheless astutely held back here just enough to let the light duly shine on Nesmith and Rhodes. And shine they did, in a set that offered a sublime mix of the highlights of the First and Second National Band's brief but most formidable legacy.

Interspersed among Nesmith's trademark tales of the musician's life are some of the most compelling examples of the genre ever committed to record, from Tomorrow And Me, The Crippled Lion and Some Of Shelley's Blues (which had been covered by both the Stone Poneys and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) to the classic singles Silver Moon, Joanne and Propinquity (which had been a staple of the live set of veteran rockers the Chantays for much of the 1980s). To their considerable credit, Nesmith and Rhodes also offered up that evening a spot on rendition of their sublime cover of Bobby Garrett's Rose City Chimes, which had initially been issued as the B-side of the First National Band's Little Red Rider at the end of 1969.

Sadly, only Michael Nesmith and John Ware survive from that classic First National Band line up. Red Rhodes passed away in August 1995 at age 65, while the great John London died in his home state of Texas in February 2000 at age 58. 

With John Ware retired from live performances, Nesmith has in recent years has revisited his First National Band legacy with a revised group that he calls the First National Band Redux. He and beloved drummer Micky Dolenz likewise continue to soldier on as the Monkees in the wake of the tragic passing of band co-founder and bassist/keyboardsman Peter Tork in February 2019, with a series of live dates scheduled throughout 2020. The Monkees of course also turned out one of the twenty-first century's definitive masterpieces to date with their 2016 fiftieth anniversary album, Good Times! for Rhino Records.

And in keeping with their mission statement of releasing the finest of Monkees solo and related projects, Cosmic Partners comes with a highly detailed 24 page book, as well as being available as a picture disc in the vinyl album configuration. And, in the words of one of the standout tracks from the First National Band's Loose Salute album, Thanx For The Ride.


EARLY MORNING SUN -
Various Artists (Teensville)
and
LAZY DAY -  
Various Artists (Teensville)


The past few months have witnessed a whirlwind of activity at Ash Wells' Sydney, New South Wales-based Teensville and Rare Rockin' Records family of labels.

Long time front runners among companies that specialize in the reissue of rare archival material, Teensville and Rare Rockin' Records have each produced an even higher than usual amount of essential collections as of late. Among them are Various Artists compilations which celebrate the songwriting acumen of such visionaries as Neil Sedaka and David And Jonathan (Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook), as well as astute thematic projects (Let The Good Times In, Guys Go Pop) and catalog celebrations by such greats as Barry Gordon and Johnny Farnham, as well as a face off album which pitted the Gibsons against the Cymbaline. To be certain, all are well worth investigating. 

Interestingly enough, renowned Southern California musicologist, record collector and one-time Blitz Magazine contributor Gary E. Tibbs was a key contributor to this latest round of releases for the label.



"I did some of the Cymbaline tracks for Teensville's Gibsons Versus Cymbaline.", said Tibbs, whose 1980 treatise on the history of the Fortunes in Blitz Magazine arguably remains the definitive article on the band to date.



"The tracks I gave them for that project were number 15 and numbers 24 through 28".


Also of particular interest among those recent releases is the Barry Gordon collection, The World Is Mine. A college professor, attorney and former president of the Screen Actors Guild, Gordon recorded prolifically for Cadence, United Artists, Dunhill and ABC Paramount. The World Is Mine includes Gordon's acclaimed Angelica single for Dunhill, as well as his upbeat cover of the late, great Tobin Matthews' Susan, and his engaging interpretation of the Monkees' The Girl I Left Behind Me.


But perhaps the most welcome yet disconcerting release among them is Teensville's Early Morning Sun, which celebrates the productions of Irving Martin. Much of the still very much active Martin's early studio work reflects a unique and engaging vision that spotlights lavishly arranged exercises in vocal harmony euphoria. 

Among the artists included in the Martin project are such greats as the Californians, Paul Craig, Sight And Sound, Searchers co-founder Tony Jackson and the utterly stupendous Finders Keepers. To be certain, Early Morning Sun was most welcome by virtue of the fact that it also features both sides of Finders Keepers' late 1967 monster classic Fontana label single, Friday Kind Of Monday and On The Beach

Still, Early Morning Sun had also proven to disconcerting in its formative stages for that same reason.

From the onset, Teensville and Rare Rockin' Records have endeavored to use the most pristine sources available in the compilation of their various projects. While of course in almost every case the original master tapes would be the most ideal choice, the sad truth is that in some cases, master tapes simply are no longer available. More often than not, the most feasible solution under such circumstances is to opt for the cleanest vinyl or styrene pressing available to use for a needle drop.

And that is where the circumstances involving the Irving Martin collection became somewhat disconcerting.


Friday Kind Of Monday was first released in 1967 on Atco by the Meantime, a studio group that featured the song's vaunted co-author, the late Ellie Greenwich. With its pronounced and sublime chord progressions (which drift with seeming effortlessness in and out of minors) and baroque atmosphere, Friday Kind Of Monday became an instant classic. In the process, it was promptly covered by Johnny Farnham as the flip side of his Underneath The Arches single. Farnham's rendition remains available on his aforementioned Teensville collection, Rose Coloured Glasses.

But far and away the most intriguing take on Friday Kind Of Monday was the aforementioned rendition by the Wolverhampton-based Finders Keepers. Comprised at that point of lead vocalist Ian Lees, guitarists Alan Clee and Mel Galley, bassist Phil Overfield and drummer David Williams, Finders Keepers absolutely soared on both sides of this monster classic 45 (the flip side being the equally harpsichord-heavy original, On The Beach, which is also included in this collection). To refer to it as one of the premier singles of the twentieth century is arguably an understatement.


Sadly, the U.S. release of that Finders Keepers single was on the Fontana label. A subsidiary of the Chicago, Illinois-based Mercury Records (as were the Philips, Smash and Limelight labels), Fontana's single releases were almost without exception pressed on low grade styrene. 

Conversely, the U.K. pressing (also on Fontana), while issued on vinyl, is relatively low-fi. However unintentionally, that attribute served to compensate to an extent for the tendency on the part of the band to push the needle into the red during the studio sessions.

As such, in many cases, finding copies that are relatively free of surface noise without compromising the piece's inherent exuberant nature has consistently proven to be challenging. To be certain, of all of the potential needle drops to be included in Early Morning Sun, the Finders Keepers single would be of the utmost concern.

But thankfully, miracles still do happen upon occasion.

Enter once again Gary E. Tibbs. Included among his extensive archives was a remarkably clean copy of the Finders Keepers single.


"I contributed the first two tracks by the Californians - their CBS 45, the two by Sight And Sound and the three tracks by Finders Keepers", said Tibbs.

"Those (the label) did not have".

The thought of such a crucial release as Friday Kind Of Monday and On The Beach being lost was indeed most disconcerting. But true to form, Wells' team did a tremendous job of digital transfer, making both sides of the Fontana label Finders Keepers single as pristine as could be hoped for under the circumstances.

Happily, Teensville's Lazy Day CD fared even better in that respect.

A Various Artists collection that showcases the compositions of Tony Powers and George Fischoff, Lazy Day is a fascinating mixture of familiar songs by artists who are not most readily associated with them, as well as relatively established artists delving deep into their own catalogs.

To wit, the title track, while most readily associated with the 1967 Mercury label release by Spanky And Our Gang, kicks off this collection via the rendition by the UK-based Tinkerbell's Fairydust. Fairly faithful to the Spanky And Our Gang rendition (albeit with slightly less lavish vocal interplay), Tinkerbell's Fairydust ultimately found themselves with a whole new following in Japan as a result.

Indeed, much of the Lazy Day CD features either celebrated artists in less than obvious moments (James Barry "Keith" Keifer's Sweet Dreams Do Come True, Kiki Dee's With A Kiss, Lenny Welch's I'm Dreaming Again, Betty Everett's In Your Arms and the McGuire Sisters' Foolish Heart), augmented by covers of the familiar by a cadre of artists unwaveringly up to the task (the Bystanders' version of Keith's 98.6, as well as the Galaxies' take on his Ain't Gonna Lie and the Richard Kent Style's interpretation of Gene Pitney's No Matter What You Do).


Also of interest is the London-based Truth's Who's Wrong, which takes a familiar theme by Barry McGuire and the Spokesmen a step further. Likewise, the late Janice "April Young" Friedman's Run To My Loving Arms (which had also been recorded by Jay And The Americans in 1965 for their Blockbusters album) owes much to the moody atmosphere of Patty Duke's Say Something Funny. Each provides a high drama alternative to the generally upbeat fare that graces this collection. Standout tracks by the Quiet Five, the Present, Buffalo Nickel and Mer-Lyn round out this essential thirty-track set.

THE VISCAYNES AND FRIENDS -
The Viscaynes (Org Music)

More often than not, the term "budget label" has proven to be somewhat of an oxymoron.

From the late 1950s, throughout the 1960s and into the early 1970s, the bargain bins at many a record retail outlet were well stocked with releases on labels such as Spin-O-Rama, Design, Hit, Tops, Sutton, Springboard, Trip, Avon, Crown, Grand Prix, Carnaby, Arc, Coronet and others of similar intent. Generally priced somewhat below the standard $3.98 stereo and $2.98 monaural of the day, the so-called budget albums tended to be overlooked by some who presumed that price and presentation suggested a lower standard.

In reality, the opposite has been very much the case. Generally, the labels covered a wide variety of concepts, formats and artists, from spot on covers of current releases (Hit, Carnaby), to thematic releases inspired by other artists (Design's 1967 Tijuana Christmas by the Border Brass, as well as Spin-O-Rama's over the top brilliant pair of David Seville-influenced albums by Eddie Maynard and the Grasshoppers). Others such as Design and Springboard devoted much of their catalog to Various Artists collections which showcased some of the best in music, with artists such as the Five Satins, Wilbert Harrison, Faye Adams, the Soul Survivors, the Turtles, the Trashmen and the Fendermen among those who were represented in their numerous releases.

One other approach common to many of those labels was to highlight worthwhile material by up and coming artists that was either heretofore unreleased or which had seen limited accessibility on other labels. Early catalog gems by Ronnie Dove, Bobby Rydell, Paul Revere And The Raiders and Tommy Roe were all given a second chance in this manner, as was the Beach Nuts' monster classic, Cycle Annie.

It was through one such project that the work of an extraordinarily gifted Northern California group was allotted the larger scale exposure that their earlier single releases, as great as they were, did not afford them up to that point.

In 1963, Sutton Records issued a multi-artist collection entitled Jumpin! With Pop Hits Of Tomorrow. Issued in both the stereo and monaural configurations, the album featured recent recordings by a promising group of artists that included the Sparkplugs, Dal Cory, the Sims Sisters and Diane Coley. 

As great as each of their contributions were, one track on that album stood so far above the rest that its appearance on a so-called budget label compilation instead of on a hugely successful 45 RPM single simply defied logic.

That track was You're My Only Love, recorded in 1961 and unreleased up to that point. The group responsible for it was the Viscaynes, a supremely talented six member group from Vallejo, California.

Comprised of Frank Arellano, Maria Boldway, Charlene Imhoff, Sylvester Stewart and brothers Charles and Vernon Gebhardt, the Viscaynes met and got together in due course while all were students at Franklin Junior High School and Vallejo High School. The Gebhardt brothers' father was the football coach at a nearby college, and the siblings were active in various sports programs at their high school. The Gebhardts also participated in school plays, as did neighbors Imhoff (who also kept score for the school's baseball team), Arellano and Boldway. 

It was at that point that each learned of one another's passion for singing. At Arellano's behest, they soon joined forces with Stewart, who was a member of the school's basketball program and gave lessons in both tennis and piano to other students. Active as a musician in his church for years at that point, Stewart also brought into the vocal mix a gift for arranging that would serve the Viscaynes well.

The group rehearsed diligently several days per week in the Gebhardts' home. They initially called themselves the Viscounts, but had to acquiesce when the instrumental group of the same name from New Jersey scored with their classic single, Harlem Nocturne on Madison in 1959 (and again in November 1965 with a reissue on Bell's affiliate Amy label). Determined to persevere with a "V" name, the group decided to parlay their affinity for Chevrolet's Biscayne model into a viable solution by becoming the Viscaynes. 

The Viscaynes participated in numerous talent shows, almost invariably taking top honors. An appearance on Dick Stewart's Dance Party television program also earned the group the grand prize, as well as the attention of producer George Motola. Having irrefutably established his acumen in that respect with the legendary Jesse Belvin's 1956 Modern label signature single, Goodnight My Love, Motola took the Viscaynes into the studio and captured their sublime vocal blend on a number of great sides. 

One of them, Yellow Moon took the mission statement of such like minded vocal greats as the Demensions a step further, and became a fair sized success for the VPM label in 1961. A fitting showcase for their impeccable vocal blend, Yellow Moon was nonetheless ultimately eclipsed in impact by its flip side, Uncle Sam Needs You. Backed by the Continental Band, Uncle Sam Needs You was a prototype of things to come (alongside such like minded efforts as Wilbert Harrison's 1960 for the Fury label), expressing as it does with Olympics-inspired humor the group's collective disillusion with the notion of cumpulsory military service. 

As if Yellow Moon and Uncle Sam Needs You were not sufficient enough evidence, the Viscaynes managed to cut several more sides that irrefutably demonstrated their formidable acumen as one of the most adept and capable vocal groups ever. Help Me With My Broken Heart was a Bert Berns-flavored masterpiece of high drama in the Gene McDaniels, Roy Hamilton and Ben E. King vein, while the otherworldly and sublime vocal harmonies of Imhoff and Boldway found in You've Forgotten Me set the stage for what is arguably one of Stewart's most commanding ever lead vocals. Likewise the sublime doo wop ballad A Long Time Alone, which saw release on the Hollywood-based Luke label as a solo Sylvester Stewart single under the name Danny Stewart. 

With a formidable repertoire in place and a consistent demand for live appearances, the stage seemed to be set for large scale acclaim for the Viscaynes. However, high school graduation found them instead going in separate directions, and the group sadly splintered without realizing their full potential. 

True to the tale told in their Uncle Sam Needs You single, Frank Arellano joined the United States Air Force, while the Gebhardt brothers went on to play college football. In fact, outside commitments often took Vernon Gebhardt away from the Viscaynes to such an extent that by 1961, his role in the group was assumed by Mike Stevens.

Meanwhile, Charlene Imhoff married and started a family soon after the group disbanded. Maria Boldway went on to become Miss Solano County and eventually the runner up for the title of Miss California in 1963. Sadly, Boldway is now deceased.

Not surprisingly (given his well developed skills at that point as a five tool player), Sylvester Stewart was recruited by the late Tom Donahue as a staff producer for his vaunted Autumn label, the recording home of such giants as Bobby Freeman, the Mojo Men, the Beau Brummels, the Tikis, the Vejtables, the Great Society, the Chosen Few and Rico And The Ravens. Stewart himself also recorded a pair of singles for Autumn, including Buttermilk under the name Sly. Interestingly enough, Stewart's sister, Rose went on to become musical director for the vocal group Newsong, one of the house vocal groups at Church On The Way in Van Nuys, California. 

For decades, the most accessible touchstone with respect to the Viscaynes' legacy was through the appearance of You're My Only Love on the aforementioned Sutton label compilation. Irrespective of the subsequent accomplishments of the group's alumni, with its utterly stupendous vocal harmonies and soaring lead vocal by Stewart, You're My Only Love eventually became widely recognized as one of vocal harmony's definitive masterpieces.

Thankfully, Org Music's long overdue vinyl release of the aforementioned Viscaynes sides with The Viscaynes And Friends at last makes You're My Only Love and the other essential components of the group's legacy once again available on a wide scale, along with three other George Motola productions by the Precisions and the Individuals. Blessed with a superb essay on the group's history by Rickey Vincent, the cover also sports a fine array of rare group photographs and press clippings.

To be certain, as the catalogs of the so-called budget labels served to underscore, the wealth of music that they and other companies championed is so vast that it is still being unearthed, researched, chronicled and celebrated more than a half century after the fact. And in the case of the Viscaynes, A Long Time Alone coming in terms of recognition will now reap exponential dividends in terms of accolades with this most essential compilation. A solid contender for best reissue of the year.