Clyde McPhatter: The Essential Collection (CD)
It is no exaggeration to say that Clyde McPhatter was one of the most influential and innovative vocalists of the 20th Century - a fact often confirmed by such artists as Elvis Presley, Jackie Wilson and Smokey Robinson.
Clyde was born the son-of-a-preacher-man on 15 November 1932 in Durham, North Carolina. At the age of 14 he joined gospel group the Mount Lebanon Singers and in 1950 fronted Billy Ward's Dominoes, whose victory on the popular Arthur Godfrey 'Talent Scouts' radio show led to a record deal with King.
The Dominoes' single 'Sixty Minute Man', often referred to as the earliest rock'n'roil hit, was the first major R&,B/Pop crossover success of the 1950's. The song's blatant lyrics caused a furore at radio. Many US stations also refused to play the group's R&,B Top 10 hit 'The Bells', a funereal opus which is now regarded as a classic of the 'death disc' genre.
McPhatter's distinctive and dramatic tenor was unique and his gospel driven delivery influenced and inspired hundreds of performers who followed in his wake. The teenage Elvis Presley loved The Dominoes - and made a point of seeing them every time they played Memphis. He later told the press how much he admired McPhatter and wished his voice had been more like Clyde's.
In 1953, McPhatter left The Dominoes to form The Drifters. Their first two releases on Atlantic, 'Money Honey' and 'Such A Night' (both covered by Elvis) also broke new ground. Unlike other love songs, the former made it clear that as far as Clyde was concerned "money can buy you love", while the lafter shocked millions with its bluntness - it was clear that Clyde did more than dance all night. Even Johnnie Ray's tamed down, chart topping cover of 'Such A Night' ran into trouble at radio stations. However, teenagers loved the Drifters' double-entendre discs that their parents considered to be "the devil's music'.
Clyde was drafted into the Army in 1954 and when he was demobbed in 1956 rejoined Atlantic as a solo artist and amassed several more best sellers including the original version of 'Without Love' a song later revived by Tom Jones. In 1959 he signed a lucrative $60,000 one year deal with MGM and this set includes four singles from that time including 'Let's Try Again', which took him back into the Top 20.
During the late 1950s he toured the US with all the major Rock'n'Roll headliners including Bill Haley,
Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Everly Brothers, Fats Domino and even Cliff Richard. Clyde first visited the
UK in 1960 to promote 'Think Me A Kiss'. He opened a package show which also featured Bobby Darin
and Duane Eddy and that single only narrowly missed the chart. McPhatter then joined Mercury and
with the help of top A&,R man Clyde Otis had a long string of US best sellers including 'I Never Knew',
`Little Bitty Pretty One' and the million sellers °la Ta' and 'Lover Please' - the latter successfully
covered in the UK by the Vernons Girls.
In 1968, Clyde briefly re-located to the UK and recorded several standout sides, the best being 'Only
A Fool' on Deram. Sadly, Clyde died from a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 39, his
last recordings having re-united him with Clyde Otis at US Decca: the cream of those being the soulful
`Book Of Memories'.
This unique chronological collection features the original recordings of his MGM, Mercury,
Deram and Decca tracks alongside noteworthy re-recordings of earlier Dominoes and Drifters hits.
It is a fitting tribute to one of the most outstanding and original vocalists of the last fifty years.
(DAVE MCALEER - GUINNESS BOOK OF BRITISH HIT SINGLES)
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|McPhatter, Clyde - The Essential Collection (CD) CD 1|
|01||Sixty Minute Man||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|02||The Bells||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|03||Money Honey||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|04||Such A Night||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|05||Without Love||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|06||I Told Myself A Lie||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|07||Twice As Nice||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|08||Let's Try Again||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|09||Think Me A Kiss||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|10||Ta Ta||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|11||I'll Love You Till The Cows Come Home||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|12||I Never Knew||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|13||Lover Please||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|14||Little Bitty Pretty One||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|15||Deep In The Heart Of Harlem||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|16||Crying Won't Help You Now||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|17||Only A Fool||Clyde McPhatter|| |
|18||Book Of Memories||Clyde McPhatter|| |
No lead tenor was as monumentally influential to the future of R&B vocal groups as The Dominoes' Clyde McPhatter. He was the first to incorporate an overt gospel influence into his impassioned leads, influencing everyone from Smokey Robinson to Aaron Neville to most of Clyde's successors with The Drifters. If it had been up to Billy Ward, the Dominoes' iron-fisted founder, Clyde would have reined in his sanctified tendencies and sounded like The Ink Spots' Bill Kenny. Thank goodness Clyde didn't listen to his boss. Ward was born September 19, 1921 in Savannah, Georgia but mostly grew up in Philadelphia. A gifted piano composer at age 14, he went on to study music at the prestigious Juilliard School. After an Army stint, Ward was working in New York as a vocal coach when he met talent agent Rose Marks. The two would co-manage The Dominoes until her 1955 death.
The group started out as The Ques in 1950, Ward bringing together McPhatter (born November 15, 1931 in Durham, North Carolina), tenor Charlie White, baritone Joe Lamont, and bass Bill Brown. Clyde sang in the choir at his mother's church, and after his family moved to New York in 1945, he harmonized with The Mount Lebanon Singers (White was also a member). But McPhatter harbored secular ambitions. He competed in the Apollo Theatre's weekly amateur contest, singing Lonnie Johnson's Tomorrow Night. Ward's authoritarian approach whipped the group into shape in a hurry. They won the Apollo amateur show, emerged victorious on the radio program 'Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts' by crooning Goodnight Irene, and got signed to King Records' brand-new Federal subsidiary (Ralph Bass was persuaded to leave Savoy and head Federal by King boss Syd Nathan). That's when The Ques name bit the dust. The Dominoes made their first session for Bass in New York on November 14, 1950.
Their debut single, issued shortly before year's end, was also Federal's inaugural offering. It paired the upbeat Chicken Blues, fronted by bass singer Brown, with a Clyde-led Do Something For Me that was the first volley in a soulful revolution, even if pianist/arranger Ward didn't care to encourage it. The deliberate tempo of Do Something For Me, credited to Ward and Marks, allowed Clyde to work sanctified magic with its pleading lyrics. The rest of the group, all ex-gospel singers, pitched in sympathetically abetted by shimmering guitar. The shattering ballad blasted up to #6 R&B over a ten-week span that commenced in February of '51.
Great as they were, Clyde McPhatter's Drifters weren't the first black vocal group to use the name. There were several that came before. Recording for songwriter Otis Rene's Excelsior label in Los Angeles, these Drifters beat Clyde to the punch by a couple of years. While their sound looked backward to the 1940s rather than forward the way McPhatter's visionary outfit would, their Honey Chile was a lighthearted charmer, the polished group riding a backdrop built around bouncy piano and winding electric guitar. The other side, the Rene-penned Mobile, was bluesier and more lowdown, though hardly back in the alley. By 1953, there could be no doubt who owned the name. But these Drifters ably kept it warm until McPhatter and his crew broke out like gangbusters.
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