This second collection of fabulous southern doo wop draws from the vaults of the Excello and Nasco labels based in Nashville as part of the well-known Ernie’s Record Mart operation. This time the selection covers the slightly later 1957/8 period, including groups who recorded several sides for the labels alongside some one-shot releases. Label owner Ernest Young catered largely for the local black market, but was later able to sell on a wider basis as southern workers began migrating to the northern industrial US cities.
Excello had some national chart success with the Gladiolas and Johnny Bragg & the Marigolds. The latter group open our collection with the rocking swing/doo wop crossover track ‘Juke Box Rock And Roll’, which neatly sets the scene. Later we can enjoy a different version of their big-selling ‘Rollin’ Stone’, a song that attracted several covers at the time. Excello’s biggest hit was the Gladiolas’ ‘Little Darlin’’, presented here in an alternate version, although it was subsequently better-known in white cover versions from the Diamonds and the Four Seasons. The Gladiolas’ follow-up was ‘Run, Run Little Joe’, a fabulous fast-paced number with an added Caribbean feel, which failed to maintain their momentum, while ‘Say You’ll Be Mine’ has a similar feel, blended with some distinct nods to Paul Anka’s hit ‘Diana’.
The King Krooners weigh in with seven tracks here, of which four are previously unreleased a cappella gems. The group included a strong bass voice, and thought carefully about their vocal arrangements, making the results very polished and satisfying, with ‘There’s Been A Change’ and ‘One Day, One Day’ being immediate standouts.
The tracks here by lesser-known groups are equally interesting. The Themes’ ‘Yes! That’s Love’ revisits the melody of ‘Little Darlin’’, although the youthful lead voice adds something different. ‘Sloo Foot Soo’ from the Seniors is a bluesy finger-popper with some good guitar and sax on the break, while the Five Chums’ ‘Give Me The Power’ is distinctly gospel-rooted. The calypso-styled ‘Don’t Say Tomorrow’ by the Hollyhocks was also recorded by the Marigolds.