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The Flairs The Ultimate Flairs (feat.Richard Berry) (CD)

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(ACE Records)) 29 tracks 1953-63 - 12 page booklet The essential CD for the lovers of LA's... more

The Flairs: The Ultimate Flairs (feat.Richard Berry) (CD)

(ACE Records)) 29 tracks 1953-63 - 12 page booklet The essential CD for the lovers of LA's premier doo wop vocal group - the Flairs - both in their own name and other guises. The Flairs recorded under their own name and under pseudonyms, as can be seen from the accompanying tracklisting - this is the first time they have all been gathered together on one CD. This ist the original Flair group with Richard Berry taking most of the vocal lead parts.

For record company owners, it was often the practice in the 50s to have a vocal group named after one of your labels.

The Bihari family, owners of the Modern group of labels, were no exception. They had started the Flair label in 1953 with primarily a hillbilly leaning, but then decided to widen the label's musical spectrum to include blues and R&B. What better than to have a vocal group named the Flairs as a showcase for the Flair label? The Flairs were born and they progressed to become one of the most respected vocal groups that came out of the West Coast doo wop scene.

Ace has released FLAIRS tracks before as part of the six-volume survey of Modern Vocal Groups" (CDCHD 698 / 723 / 741 / 764 / 783 / 817) but now it's time to dedicate a CD to the group's output, both under their own name and a quite a few pseudonyms. Consisting of Richard Berry, Cornel Gunter, Obie Jessie, Peter Fox and Beverly Thompson, the Flairs formed in late 1952 whilst many of the members were at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. Richard Berry was the group's main songwriter as well as lead vocalist, although Cornel Gunter shared lead vocals as did, to a lesser extent, Obie Jesse (aka Young Jessie).

The group's six singles releases on the Flair label are included as well as outings where they posed as the Hunters and possibly as the Whips. There was an overlap of membership between the Flairs and groups named the Five Hearts and the Rams so their tracks are included too. Each track has been comprehensively annotated by Gordon Skadberg of Earlybird Records. 

Also featured are tracks taken from the 1963 Crown LP outing. Interestingly, the Crown album cover had what appeared to be a genuine Fazzio 'painting'. It turns out, in reality, to be a colour touch-up of the Flairs original Flair label promotional photograph that is featured on the cover of the CD. It was the habit of the people at Modern to write the track listings of early Crown releases on the back of discarded LP cover slicks or promo material. Many are written up on copies of the back cover of Red Callender's rare album (Modern LP 1201), but the cover photograph turned up as the reverse of the track listing of "Organ Fantasy in Hi-Fi" by Betty Staples on Crown 5023 and on a couple of LPs by Cuban-influenced dance band leader Eddie Gomez! 

After recording an intriguing combination of ballads and up-tempo items, the group split up after a couple of years. Each of the lead vocalists managed to have fairly distinguished careers. Richard Berry continued to write and record, including the landmark 'Louie Louie' with the Pharaohs on the Flip label. His solo efforts and as lead of the Pharaohs can be heard on CDCH 355 Richard Berry "Get Out Of The Car"as well as CDCHD 977 Richard Berry "Have 'Louie' Will Travel". Cornel Gunter continued with later Flairs groups on Modern (backing his sister Shirley), and with the Ermines on Loma. He also had a three year stretch with the world-famous Coasters on the Atco label. Obie Jessie also had a successful solo career as Young Jessie and he, too, did a spell with the Coasters. His solo output is showcased in CDCHD 607 Young Jessie "I'm Gone". Later the Flairs name was re-used by Platters manager Buck Ram. His group had different members from the original group and then changed their name to the Flares, and had the hit 'Foot Stompin'. That group's recordings are available on The Flares "Footstomping" (CDCHD 841).

As for the original group, had they been formed in the 60s rather than the 50s, they would probably have been given the 'supergroup' moniker. Here, for the first time in a legitimate CD reissue, are the group's finest recordings. As Gordon Skadberg says in his notes - they were the Ultimate!

By Peter Gibbon

Article properties: The Flairs: The Ultimate Flairs (feat.Richard Berry) (CD)

  • Interpret: The Flairs

  • Album titlle: The Ultimate Flairs (feat.Richard Berry) (CD)

  • Year of publication 2004
  • Genre Doo-Wop

  • Label Ace Records

  • Artikelart CD

  • EAN: 0029667003322

  • weight in Kg 0.1
Flairs, The - The Ultimate Flairs (feat.Richard Berry) (CD) CD 1
01 I Had A Love
02 She Wants To Rock
03 Down At Hayden's
04 Rabbit On The Log
05 Tell Me You Love Me
06 You Should Care For Me
07 She Done Me Wrong
08 Pleadin' Heart
09 The Fine One
10 Please Please Baby
11 Getting High
12 Love Me Girl
13 Baby Wants
14 You Were Untrue
15 This Is The Night For Love
16 Let's Make With Some Love
17 My Heart's Crying For You
18 Love Me Love Me Love Me
19 I'll Never Let You Go
20 Hold Me, Thrill Me, Chill Me
21 Rock Bottom
22 Sweet Thing
23 My Darling, My Sweet
24 She Loves To Dance
25 Real Good Lovin' Man
26 Lonesome Desert
27 I Want You To Be Mine
28 Tell Me You're Mine
29 (Why Do) I Love You
The Flairs The Flairs I Had A Love Even sharp-eared judges of talent like the Bihari... more
"The Flairs"

The Flairs

The Flairs

I Had A Love

Even sharp-eared judges of talent like the Bihari brothers, the owners of Modern Records in Los Angeles, may not have fully realized just how much young talent was packed into The Flairs. Three future stars resided in their ranks, though the looseness inherent to the L.A. vocal group scene ensured that a fair amount of unknowns would eventually roll through too.

It all began in 1952 with an outfit called The Debonaires, whose members included lead tenor Cornell Gunter, first tenor Beverly Thompson, tenor Thomas 'Pete' Fox, baritone Obie Jessie, and bass Richard Berry. All except Thompson attended Jefferson High School, located near the charismatic John Dolphin's record store, Dolphin's of Hollywood. The quintet dropped by the shop that December and landed a deal to make their debut platter, coupling a Gunter-fronted I Had A Love and the Berry showcase Tell Me You Love Me, for Dolphin's Recorded in Hollywood label. John released the single the next month, calling them The Hollywood Blue Jays.

When that effort sank without trace, the group tried their luck with better-established Modern in the summer of 1953. A&R man Joe Bihari, youngest of the brothers, convinced the group to rename themselves after the imprint they'd be cutting for, Flair Records. First up that July was a more professional redo of the breathtaking ballad I Had A Love, penned by Jessie and led by Gunter (Berry led the rowdy B-side, She Wants To Rock). 'Billboard' chose both sides as a 'Buy o' the Week' in early September, but the single didn't break nationally.

The Flairs issued a half-dozen followups on Flair stretching into 1955, but the in-demand Berry left to pursue other opportunities, including writing and cutting the original Louie Louie in 1957 for the Flip label. Young Jessie, as he was known by then, had his own '55 West Coast hit for Modern with Mary Lou, and Fox joined The Cadets (aka The Jacks), leaving Gunter the only original Flair when Buck Ram took over their managerial reins and got them a deal in 1956 with ABC-Paramount. The Flairs were still in business under Ram's supervision when Cornell left in '57. He'd join The Coasters the next year, participating on most of their big sellers.

Various - Street Corner Symphonies Vol.05, 1953 The Complete Story Of Doo Wop

Read more at: https://www.bear-family.de/various-street-corner-symphonies-vol.05-1953-the-complete-story-of-doo-wop.html
Copyright © Bear Family Records

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