BEAR FAMILY RECORDS
Formed in Los Angeles in 1952 the name came from a suggestion by original member and bass vocalist Herb Reed. Signed to Federal Records and managed by A & R man Ralph Bass the band had limited success in the record market and their eight recorded tracks would see only minor success. This drought led to Bass bringing in songwriter Buck Ram to bring about a change in fortunes. Having originally written “Only You (And You Alone)” for The Ink Spots all parties thought they were on to a winner. All parties apart from the label that is who thought the track not worthy of release. Thankfully The Platters enjoyed considerable success as a live act. They were so successful in fact that The Penguins approached Ralph Bass to become their manager. As a twist of fate when Mercury Records looked to sign The Penguins, Bass insisted they pick up both bands. The executives at Mercury relented and time would show they had been wise. The Penguins scored exactly zero in terms of recording success but The Platters went on to become one of the most widely acknowledged vocal groups of all time.
At a new label they would re-record “Only You” and see it soar into the Top 10 but it was the follow up “The Great Pretender” which sealed their place in history reaching the number one slot in 1955. The track which conjures such romantic imagery was actually written in a toilet at The Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas again by Buck Ram. It was these two tracks that would forever seal the public perception of the band. However, as this CD shows they were anything but a one trick pony. This thirty track thing of beauty concentrates on the mid and up tempo numbers they recorded at their time with Mercury between 1955 and 1962. The list of tracks is incredible, “Don’t Let Go”, “Hula Hop” and “Bark, Battle & Ball” for starters. Given the ease they up the tempo it is no wonder they were such a popular live act. It is difficult to imagine any space on the dancefloors across the USA. Tony Williams takes the lead on most tracks but all five have the opportunity to shine especially when Herb Reed gives “Sixteen Tons” the bass treatment. Other stand out tracks include covers of “On A Slow Boat To China” and “Let’s Fall In Love”. If you get chance to tear yourself away from such vocal pleasure listen out for the sax of Freddie Simon. It stands out and deserves belated high praise.
Bear Family have done an excellent job putting this package together. From the remastering to the booklet it is an item of quality and an essential to many a collection. I can’t recommend this highly enough, in fact I strongly suspect that come the end of the year I will be rating it as a highlight of 2017. Buy it!
Press - The Platters - Rock - UK Rock'n'Roll Magazine