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The Flamingos For Collectors Only (CD)

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(Collectables Records) 42 tracks 'I had the rare privilege of interviewing Zeke and Jeke... more

The Flamingos: For Collectors Only (CD)

(Collectables Records) 42 tracks

'I had the rare privilege of interviewing Zeke and Jeke Carey, in Brooklyn, New York'. They are the organizers and original members of one of the most renowned rhythm and blues vocal groups to come from the fifties, the Flamingos. The group is still active today, in spite of many personnel changes. This is their story, from the beginning. Jake and Zeke grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. Sonny Til lived down the street; and as kids, they played ball together. Zeke's oldest brother attended high school with Sonny. While on the subject of Sonny Til, Nate Nelson, a future lead singer with the Flamingos, was a cousin of Sonny Til's. Soon after, Jake and Zeke (they are cousins and not brothers) moved to Chicago. During the fall of 1952, at a picnic, the Flamingos were born. At that time, they were just another group of boys singing in harmony. Attending this picnic was Fletcher Weatherspoon Jr., who liked their unique sound and harmony, and wanted the boys to continue singing. It turned out that Fletcher Weather-spoon had a friend who owned a night club, Martin's Corner. It featured talent contests on Thursday nights. The boys entered one of those and won. It turned out, that on this particular night, they were the only contestants and couldn't lose: The owner of the club was so impressed with their singing ability that he asked them to appear the following night.

While appearing at this club, Jimmy Thurmond, a representative of King Booking Agency, caught their act. Ralph Leon, who ran the agency, became their manager. Fletcher Weatherspoon Jr. stepped down, realizing that Ralph Leon could do more for the boys than he could. What made this transition even easier was that Fletcher Weatherspoon got drafted. The boys were right out of high school. Jake, the oldest, was completing college. The group in-cluded Jake and Zeke Carey, Johnny Carter, (currently singing with the Dells), Solly McElroy and Paul Wilson. Even at this early stage, the boys believed in parliamentary procedure and majority rule. This accounted for the group adopting the name, The Flamingos. It seemed that one of the members came up with the name, the El Flamingos. The group felt the name had beauty; hence, they called themselves The Five Flamingos. The name stuck because it sounded good to the majority. Later, they dropped the "Five" because the group might expand. With that, they became The Flamingos. About two weeks after their appearance at the talent show, Ralph Leon took them to United Records, a rhythm and blues record company based in Chicago. The group felt they were dynamite (performing acappella), but United Records was slightly less than over-awed. The Company admitted the group sang in harmony, but wanted them to go back home and rehearse a bit more - and come back in a year: This initial set-back caused the group to try harder.

To United, The Flamingos were just another "doo-wop" group. The Company felt there was no unique-ness to the group since they were immature. At this time, The Clovers, Dominoes and Five Keyes were popular and United preferred something that was relevant to the market. The Flamingos did not sound like the other established groups. There was no outstanding lead in The Flamingos as was the case with many other well-known groups. Jake Carey said it best when he described those who imitate the familiar as, "wagon-riders." The Flamingos wanted to be different and not sound like somebody else. The Flamingos *concentrated on harmony and always sang acappella. For them, their harmony patterns, as well as their rhythm patterns, had to be good. The group believed in good singing, not shamming through a tune. As it turned out, it was almost a year before they cut their first record for Chance (Someday Someway/If I Can't Have You, March 14,1953). During this year of practice, they gained experience by singing at clubs and private parties. Many of these private party dates came through Fletcher Weatherspoon Jr. He and Zeke worked at Montgomery Ward in Chicago. Initially, Zeke saw no purpose in attending these parties because he didn't drink or smoke, so why go? They never got paid for appearing at these private affairs, but they did gain experience by performing in front of an audience.

Unlike many other groups, The Flamingos never had a street corner on which they practiced. They rehearsed either in their hotel rooms or basement apartments. When practicing, they would use a lamp or a stand-up broom in place of a microphone, and "sing their hearts out." The Flamingos emphasized harmony, rather than the lead, like the average groups. They wanted to do what the other guy wasn't doing, trying to be individualistic. The Flamingos selected their own tunes and were solely responsible for the style they developed. But they "greatlx admired" The Dominoes, Orioles and Five Keyes. Jake and Zeke also felt that The Clovers came up with "great songs and great beats." They also admitted that, "It was difficult to be totally different when you respected and loved these groups."

If I Can't Have You had traces of some of the sounds of those groups. The record had two leads. Solly McElroy sang lead basically, with Johnny Carter singing the second lead. The Orioles did this in many of their recordings, Sonny Til doing most of the lead work with George Nelson (baritone) singing the second lead. "If I Can't Have You" was sung straight, with no inter-changing of parts, as compared to the difficult harmony patterns in "Golden Teardrops", "Dream Of A Lifetime", and "A Kiss From Your Lips". Jake and Zeke also relived some of the incidents which happened to the group in the early days. The Club Delisa, in Chichago, with the Red Saunder's Band, was packed when the Flamingos would do the breakfast show.

But they also played to empty houses in the early days. In Girard, Ohio, they became "snow-blind" by a sea of empty, white tablecloths: The group enjoyed taking a tune done by a single artist and re-doing it with a group sound. "Little White Cloud" by Johnny Ray was a favorite, along with, "You Belong To Me", "Why Don't You Believe Me" and "Heavenly Father". The record company wouldn't let them record these tunes because they felt pop tunes wouldn't sell. Zeke felt that their unreleased version of "September Song" was one of the group's finest. He said, "Lionel Hampton would break into tears when we did it." The Flamingos were backed by such notables as Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, and Woody Herman, while they were on tours. I asked Jake and Zeke for their opinion concerning Chuck Willis, a greatly under-rated blues singer, who had recorded some excellent material for Okeh and Columbia. To Jake, "He was a ball of soul." To Zeke, "He's one of the greatest." I agree.

Initially, The Flamingos had few white followers. They developed a white audience after touring with Duke Ellington, Lionel Hampton and Woody Herman. This following was built up through personal appear-ances rather than records. Travelling conditions were hectic. Hotel accomodations were a major problem in finding "your kind of hotel on the other side of the tracks." This happened in spite of the fact that they had travelled with the major names in show business. This happened even in Las Vegas in the late 1950's. In 1956, The Flamingos were playing the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. When their act was finished they would sit at their own "private" table with their own "private" waiter. When the club closed, their accomodations would be situated on the "other side of town." As Zeke so aptly put it, "How can they like the music so well, and yet place so many restriction on you?" The Flamingos believed in tight organization and discipline. While you worked, you didn't drink. You always gave your best. The group emphasized show business, discipline, and order. Fines were levied for lateness, wrong attire, and not getting the material at rehearsal. There existed elected officers within the group and a set of by-laws that were enforced. This tight-knit organization is still maintained within the group today.

Jake and Zeke covered other areas that related to The Flamingos, such topics as: record companies, the music of the period and Alan Freed. Recording dates were radically different as compared to the ones today. There weren't any such things as multi-tracks or over-dubbing; there was only one track and one take. This necessitated getting it right on the first try. On a three hour recording date, four songs would be done. These small record companies would be on a small budget, hence, you couldn't be in there all day. Zeke added that, "some-times I would be hoarse at a recording date and would be unable to sing my part." He usually sang second tenor or falsetto. So, he would switch with the baritone who had never sung the part. "Many sounds were born through necessity. As we kept recording, we created our own harmony, no coach. We would work out the songs." The record company would generally insist a tune be done their way. This problem came up when The Flamingos recorded "That's My Desire." They used only four or five musicians for the set and the company had never heard the song done in that fashion, even though they admitted it was good. As Jake philosophically put it. "That's the idea of singing, because people relate to a certain feeling the artist has projected."

Charles Gonzales, a singer, wrote some of the Flamingos' Chance recordings. Afterwards, Charles failed to come up with suitable material for the group, thus explaining his swift departure. Proper credit for writing songs was a problem in this period. It was not uncommon to see someone else credited for a tune, or at least, given half credit. A case in point, "I'll Be Home" was actually written by a dee jay, Fats Washington. But Stan Lewis, from Shreveport, La., received half credit for the song, primarily because he had money and a record outfit. The ballad, "A Kiss From Your Lips" is credited to Davis and Fratto. However, Zeke Carey wrote the whole bridge and melody, receiving no credit whatsoever. Keeping this in mind, did Alan Freed deserve half-credit for a great many of the Moonglows' record-ings on Chess? Or did he earn this half-credit because of plugging the record? Interesting questions, too bad I don't have the answers. The general policy during this period of the record companies, (Chance was no different) was one of "give me my dollars now, and I'll promise to pay you - before you die." According to Jake and Zeke, many of their Chance recordings were regional hits. Surprisingly, Chicago wasn't a big selling regional area for The Flamingos. "If I Can't Have You", sold big in Philadelphia, fairly well in New York and along the eastern seaboard but not well in the South. "That's My Desire" sold fairly well in Chicago and"Golden Teardrops" did well in New York."

The Flamingos received no money for doing any of their Chance recordings, nor did they receive any royalties once they were released. As Jake and Zeke explained, "We were just starting out and we couldn't demand a fee." The company ope;ated with a small budget, was under-staffed, issued no statements, and the recording contracts contained "slave clauses" heavily weighted in favor of the recording company. Since the company was young and funds were limited, records that would have been national hits only got regional promotion. Promotion was very important. "When the company is struggling, the artist isn't ex-pecting anything, because he's barely making it." Another factor was "ignorance on the part of the artists." "We were young and knew nothing about the business. We loved singing, recording in the studio, being in front of the audience, and hearing the girls." In this case, bad management does not deserve the blame. Like The Flamingos, Ralph Leon was new to the music business and was learning. He was highly respected and loved by Jake and Zeke. Ralph remained their manager for two years until his untimely death from a heart attack. Leon spent those two years building and molding the group. He insisted on not doing tunes that couldn't be appreciated by the pop audience.

The training they received from Ralph Leon enabled them to last. With his death, turmoil existed because of bills and other problems. The group was forced to learn the promotion of records, to handle their own business, maintain the tight Flamingo organization, plus arranging and producing their records. At times, "These tunes came in su,h crude and rough form, we would have to straighten them out and then see other people getting credit for the tune. On a positive note, Jake and Zeke gave great praise to Alan Freed. "Alan Freed, a dee jay out of Cleve-land, got to know and feel rhythm and blues. At this time, if you were black, or R & B oriented, you would be classified in the R & B The pop stations wouldn't play R & B because they were racist. The establishment had the white stations. The youth, back then, fifteen years or more, forced the change. The small R & B companies began to make money and became a thorn in the side of the big companies.

The big stations that wouldn't play R & B the kids would be switching to the R & B stations. Atlantic became rich off R & B music. Chess the same thing. The big companies were beginning to take notice because their records weren't selling, so they started covering the R & B hits with their own artists - Georgia Gibbs, Patti Page, Pat Boone, and The Andrew Sisters. The Apollo Theater would be the only place you could? on to 1.sten. In the South, due to segregation laws, the balcony would be jammed with white kids, and the ground level would be filled with the black kids. Elvis Presley admired Bo Didley. He met Elvis before Elvis ever made a record. Alan Freed discovered that there was big buck. lit N & L music. 'le broke the barriers by playing R & B music to the white kids. He did what hadn't been done. He defied the system. Freed was working on a black station, and being white, he found a gimmick.. He'd howl - moondog - and play black music. He got involved in the music and started to hold dances.

When big bucks started being made in Cleveland, New York got up and took notice. Freed created a fantastic market. The only thing that made him a giant, he introduced a music that had been banned because it was categorized as race music. With payola, Freed was a scapegoat for the industry. He was involved, but so were the rest. Freed was big, he knew he was big, and let it be known. People wanted to see him fall. Everybody was taking. The big companies, in their own quiet way, were taking care of a lot of business. Freed doesn't deserve all the blame. In order for the little guy to survive, he couldn't compete except with cash (payola). But, there were subtle forms that would be used by the big companies - vacations, women, cars, scholarship for the kids, and other gifts because the big companies liked you. Payola was a two-way street. You had someone offering and someone receiving. Why punish the recipient and not the big guy?"

(Carl Tancredi, Bim Bam Boom Magazine)


Article properties: The Flamingos: For Collectors Only (CD)

  • Interpret: The Flamingos

  • Album titlle: For Collectors Only (CD)

  • Label Collectables

  • Genre R&B, Soul

  • Year of publication 1992
  • Artikelart CD

  • EAN: 0090431880326

  • weight in Kg 0.12
Flamingos, The - For Collectors Only (CD) CD 1
01 I Only Have Eyes For You
02 I'll Be Home
03 Ko Ko Mo
04 Mio Amore
05 My Foolish Heart
06 Nobody Loves Me Like You
07 Love Walked In
08 Lovers Never Say Goodbye
09 That's Why I Love You
10 Your Other Love
11 I Was Such A Fool
12 My Memories Of You
13 A Kiss From Your Lips
14 Jump Children
15 Time Was
16 You & Me & The Sea
17 Maria Elena
18 I Want To Love You
19 Beside You
20 I'm In The Mood For Love
21 Bridge Of Tears
22 I Shed A Tear At Your Wedding
23 Music Maestro Please
24 It's Too Soon To Know
25 Besame Mucho
26 At Night
27 Everybody's Got A Home But Me
28 Lovers Never Say Goodbye
29 For All We Know
30 Lovers Gotta Cry
31 Crazy Crazy Crazy
32 That Love Is You
33 Dream Girl
34 Tell Me How Long
35 You'll Never Walk Alone
36 When I Fall In Love
37 But Not For Me
38 Sweet & Lovely
39 Heavenly Angel
40 At The Prom
41 Ol' Man River
42 Goodnight Sweetheart
The Flamingos Nobody Loves Me Like You The Flamingos were on the roll of their career.... more
"The Flamingos"

The Flamingos

Nobody Loves Me Like You

The Flamingos were on the roll of their career. The Chicagoans had been recording since 1953, first for Chance and then Parrot and then Checker (where they hit in '56 with I'll Be Home and A Kiss From Your Lips) before signing with Decca in '57. Then they landed at George Goldner's New York-based End Records.

Founders Jake (their bass singer) and tenor Zeke Carey were still on board when The Flamingos signed with End, along with original baritone Paul Wilson and lead tenor Nate Nelson, who came in during their tenure on Parrot. Future soul star Tommy Hunt was there, as was tenor Terry 'Buzzy' Johnson, who doubled on guitar. He and Wilson co-wrote and co-fronted the group's first End hit Lovers Never Say Goodbye. Both that and their '59 smash I Only Have Eyes For You, their career peak (it's on our previous edition), were dreamy ballads. Sam Cooke's pen provided an upbeat change of pace.

"I had asked Sam to write us a song, because I loved Sam Cooke," says Johnson. "We were very dear friends. And I wanted a song like 'You Send Me' or 'For Sentimental Reasons,' all those beautiful slow ballads that he sang. And I was waiting for him. He said, 'I'll write you a song! I'll write you a song!' He had his own office. He had really elevated in life. He said, 'I'll write you a song.' And every time we'd see him, I'd say, 'Where's the song?' He'd say, 'I'm working on it.'

"One day at the Regal Theater, Sam came in and he said, 'Buzzy, give me a guitar! I got your song!' And he played it, and it was slow, the way he did it. And George Goldner heard it fast. And I liked it slow, because it had more of a feeling. But then George Goldner wanted it to sound more like 'Shout,' those chords.

And Sam didn't mind. He said, 'Well, just get the song out there. I don't care.'"

Released in February of 1960 as Nobody Loves Me, End quickly repressed Cooke's tune, led by Nate and Terry, as Nobody Loves Me Like You (Besame Mucho gave way to a Johnson-penned You, Me And The Sea as the flip). Nobody Loves Me Like You rose to #23 R&B and #30 pop.

The Flamingos  scored four more charters at End, but Mio Amore, a lilting Your Other Love (a Drifters-styled Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman composition), Kokomo (which they'd previously cut for Parrot), and Time Was failed to crack the Top 40. Hunt, Johnson, and Nelson left before the end of 1961, Hunt scoring a solo hit that year for Scepter with the dramatic Human. The Careys pointed The Flamingos in a soul-oriented direction that led them back to the R&B charts in '66 with The Boogaloo Party. Nelson died June 1, 1984; Wilson passed May 6, 1988; and Jake and Zeke Carey left us in December 10, 1997 and December 24, 1999 respectively.

 

Various - Street Corner Symphonies 1960 Vol.12

Read more at: https://www.bear-family.de/various-street-corner-symphonies-1960-vol.12.html
Copyright © Bear Family Records

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Tracklist
Flamingos, The - For Collectors Only (CD) CD 1
01 I Only Have Eyes For You
02 I'll Be Home
03 Ko Ko Mo
04 Mio Amore
05 My Foolish Heart
06 Nobody Loves Me Like You
07 Love Walked In
08 Lovers Never Say Goodbye
09 That's Why I Love You
10 Your Other Love
11 I Was Such A Fool
12 My Memories Of You
13 A Kiss From Your Lips
14 Jump Children
15 Time Was
16 You & Me & The Sea
17 Maria Elena
18 I Want To Love You
19 Beside You
20 I'm In The Mood For Love
21 Bridge Of Tears
22 I Shed A Tear At Your Wedding
23 Music Maestro Please
24 It's Too Soon To Know
25 Besame Mucho
26 At Night
27 Everybody's Got A Home But Me
28 Lovers Never Say Goodbye
29 For All We Know
30 Lovers Gotta Cry
31 Crazy Crazy Crazy
32 That Love Is You
33 Dream Girl
34 Tell Me How Long
35 You'll Never Walk Alone
36 When I Fall In Love
37 But Not For Me
38 Sweet & Lovely
39 Heavenly Angel
40 At The Prom
41 Ol' Man River
42 Goodnight Sweetheart