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MYSTICS: The Complete Mystics
THE BENSONHURST section of Brooklyn, New York has been the birthplace of many popular groups of the 1950's and 60's. The Four Evers, The Passions, The Classics and The Mystics all grew up together and the main reason so many groups evolved was that at any given time there were just so many vocalists joining together for a night of corner harmonising.
It was in 1956 that Al
Contrera was asked to join a local band known as the Overons, when
their bass left the group. The other members, Al Cracolici -
baritone, Joe Stroble - lead, George Galfo - second tenor and Bob
Ferrante - first tenor were eventually joined by Al's brother Phil
Cracolici as their new lead singer after Joe's departure. In 1958
they changed their name to the Mystics, a name they agreed on after
finding it in the dictionary.
They soon were to receive their first
big break, when in the process of recording some original demos an
engineer at the studio, who liked their sound, phoned Jim Gribble,
the well-known manager, for an audition. In the winter of 1958 the Mystics not only had a personal manager but within two months they had
a record contract with Laurie Records.
The people at Laurie were not
happy with the group's potential first release, ‘Adam And Eve’
and, while waiting to find the right song, had the band do various
background vocals for single artists on their Laurie label.
Eventually the writing team of Doc Pomus and Morty Shuman were
contacted by Gribble to listen to the group and write a song that
would fit the group's soft sound. Morty was from the same
neighborhood as the fellows and took a personal interest in the
group. In the next few days Morty and Doc contacted Gene Schwartz of
Laurie and asked him to assemble the Mystics to hear the new song he
had written for them. The song was ‘Teenager In Love’, Laurie
Records realised the hit potential of the song and felt that since
Dion and The Belmonts were already established it would be to their
advantage to give the song to them and bypass the Mystics.
Both the band and writers were heartbroken. Gene suggested that the current
hit by the Elegants, ‘Little Star’ would be the perfect type of
sound for the Mystics to emulate. On this suggestion Morty and Doc
left the Laurie offices only to return the next day with ‘Hushabye'
and the rest is history.
This vinyl-record album not only includes the Mystics 6 singles (12 sides) but4 unreleased masters (3 of which have surfaced on a Crystal Ball album) and the never before released ‘Over The Rainbow’. This album of original Mystics material was long overdue and the people at Ace Records have spent a lot of time and effort to bring you this great package. ED ENGEL. Crystal Ball Records(Ace) 16 Laurie masters (4 unreleased)
Article properties: MYSTICS: The Complete Mystics
|Mystics - The Complete Mystics LP 1|
|02||White Cliffs Of Dover|
|03||All Through The Night|
|04||A Sunday Kind Of Love|
|05||It's Only A Paper Moon|
|07||Star Crossed Lovers|
|09||Don't Take The Stars|
|10||Darling I Know Now|
|11||(I Begin) To Think Again Of You|
|12||Over The Rainbow|
|13||Let Me Steal Your Heart Away|
|15||Adam & Eve|
|16||Goodbye Mr. Blues|
Brooklyn was teeming with young Italian-American doo-woppers looking for their big break. The Mystics started out in Brooklyn's Bensonhurst section as The Overons. After a few personnel changes, they solidified in 1958 with lead tenor Phil Cracolici (who had been replaced during a Navy stint by Joe Strobel), first tenor Bob Ferrante, second tenor George Galfo, baritone Albee Cracolici (Phil's brother), and bass Allie Contrera.
After plenty of rehearsing, The Overons headed to Manhattan in search of record contract. George Goldner at Gone/End Records wanted to sign them, but his terms were unsatisfactory to the group. They had a better feeling about Jim Gribble assuming their managerial reins after he caught them cutting a demo session at Broadway Recording Studios at 1650 Broadway. He didn't care for The Overons as a name, so everyone threw a different one in a hat, and Contrera's nomination was chosen. Gribble signed the newcomers to Laurie Records in late '58. They cut Adam And Eve for the label, which would serve as the B-side of their debut 45. For the plug side, the group hoped to cut A Teenager In Love, but Laurie handed it to Dion and The Belmonts instead (see above). Fortunately, its writers, Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, were extremely prolific.
The compositional duo came right back with Hushabye, a catchy mid-tempo number that Laurie issued in May of 1959. It charted at month's end, sailing to #20 pop over a 15-week span; the group toured the Midwest that June. Their encore, Don't Take The Stars, only made a #98 impression that autumn with So Tenderly on the B-side. Right about then, Phil Cracolici left. His successors were intriguing: Paul Simon joined just long enough to participate on their third Laurie platter in early '60, pairing the Kal Mann-penned All Through The Night b/w To Think Again Of You. Jay Traynor, future lead of Jay & The Americans, replaced Simon that spring for Blue Star and its sentimental standard flip The White Cliffs Of Dover. The door continued to revolve: Eddie Falcone fronted their next release, Goodbye Mister Blues. Ralph Lizano came in to sing his own Darling I Know Now as a farewell.
Both Cracolicis, Ferrante, and Contrera were reunited for The Mystics' 1981 LP 'Crazy For You' on the Ambient Sound label. Phil and Galfo perform in the current edition of the group.
- Bill Dahl -
Various Street Corner Symphonies 1959 Vol.11
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