No matter how many sessions they cut for Cincinnati-based King Records, The "5" Royales could never remove the glorious gospel feeling from their earthy output.
The quintet from Winston-Salem, North Carolina was enormously successful during their early secular days with New York's Apollo label (their Baby Don't Do It and Help Me Somebody both topped the R&B charts in 1953; the latter's flip Crazy, Crazy, Crazy as well as Too Much Lovin' and I Do all close behind over the course of '53 and '54). But when the Royales switched over to King later in 1954, the hits dried up despite the ongoing presence of church-fired lead Johnny Tanner and the increasingly blistering lead guitar of Lowman Pauling, their primary songwriter.
The quintet finally made it back to the R&B hit parade in 1957 with Tears Of Joy and the romping Think (later revived with a funkier groove by James Brown). Their Dedicated To The One I Love (featuring Johnny's brother, Eugene Tanner, up front) provided a blueprint for The Shirelles' subsequent hit rendition. Jimmy Moore and Obadiah Carter remained staunch in the chorus, as they had since their '51 Apollo debut date when they were still a gospel group, The Royal Sons Quintet.
Although the Royales usually cut at King's Cincy headquarters (or occasionally in New York), their February 3, 1960 session was held in Miami at Criteria Studios. Johnny torched Lowman's intense I'm With You, drenching his lead in sanctified fervor as Pauling's guitar provided a surging underpinning and the Royales chanted hypnotically. The storming flip, Don't Give No More Than You Can Take, and both sides of their King farewell, Why and the group-generated (Something Moves Me) Within My Heart, came permeated in pure holy roller goodness.
From King, the Royales signed with Memphis-based Home of the Blues, where they stayed from 1960 to '62 (the logo licensed some of their masters to Vee-Jay and ABC-Paramount). After a '63 date in Nashville for Todd Records, the quintet remade Baby Don't Do It and I Like It Like That under James Brown's supervision for Smash in '64. Lowman tried to break out on his own with five early '60s 45s for Federal under the name of El Pauling in partnership with pianist Royal Abbit. Pauling died December 26, 1973 in Brooklyn, his mind-boggling axe never gaining him the adulation he deserved. The equally spectacular Johnny Tanner died November 8, 2005. As one of the earliest R&B acts to bravely blend gospel into their attack, The "5" Royales were one of the founding fathers of soul.