So what was Paul Anka's first record? Well some of you knowledgeable vocal group enthusiasts out there will know that far from being Diana, Paul's first record was actually an outing on Modern's RPM label. Allegedly financed by his father, I Confess coupled with the easy-to-pronounce Blau-Wile-De-Veest-Fontaine was released in late 1956 with both sides having vocal group accompaniment. Not only that, but Modern actually released an album in 1959, entitled Paul Anka & Others, on its Riviera subsidiary label!
Both of these tunes (and a shot of the rare album sleeve), as well as more than 20 other doo-wop releases from the same stable are to be found on Modern Vocal Groups Vol 4, the latest chapter in our comprehensive survey of the Modern vocal group sound. Compiled and annotated as usual by Gordon Skadberg of Early Bird Records, this volume concentrates on the golden era of the vocal group sound (1954-56) and has the usual mixture of successful releases and rarities. Amongst the hits featured this time are the well known novelty item Stranded In The Jungle by the Cadets, Girl in My Dreams by the Cliques (who were actually Jesse Belvin and Eugene Church singing together) and Jesse (with group backing) doing his famous Goodnight My Love
On the rare side, we have Buddy Milton and the Twilighters doing Please Understand and Say Another Word (the RPM 418 single is currently valued at $350 in the best known price guide) and the Trojans coupling of As Long As I Have You/I Wanna Make Love To You on RPM 446. The Trojans had their recording supervised by Ike Turner and his connection probably accounts for its current $300 price tag. Other comparative rarities include the Sounds and the Honey Boys doing both sides of their Modern singles.
As a balance to the male vocal group sound, we always try and include some of the female group sounds or a male backing group with female lead and this volume is no exception. The respected Shirley Gunter is featured on a couple of tracks with the Flairs backing her. Another mixed sound comes from the female-led Poka-Dotts with male backing on their one and only Modern single. Another artist featured here at the outset of their career is Clydie King. Later a successful solo singer as well as duetting with Jimmy Holiday, she was a member of the Raeletts and of the group Brown Sugar. Clydie is featured on this CD as the lead of Little Clydie & the Teens doing their cover of the well-known girl group tune A Casual Look.
By Peter Gibbon