Billy Ward and the Dominoes Best of the 50's Masters: 1957-1959
2000 audio CD release
This 19-song anthology covers Ward the Dominoes' stint with Liberty. Although this was the period that saw them land two of their biggest hits -- both "Star Dust" and "Deep Purple" made the Top 20 -- it's not remembered or written about nearly as much … see full wiki
Conventional wisdom would say that the Dominoes best years were well behind them when the group signed with Liberty records in 1957. After all, who could possibly replace past lead singers Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson? Group founder Billy Ward had an answer to that question. Eugene Mumford arrived on the West Coast in the fall of 1957. Mumford's resume included a couple of years as lead singer of the Larks. Many R&B buffs consider his lead vocal on the Larks 1952 Apollo single "My Reverie" to be one of the best in the history of the genre. Ward promptly snapped him up and headed straight for the recording studio. This collection, released in 2000 by Varese Sarabande was a most pleasant surprise. Aside from the Top 20 hits "Stardust" and "Deep Purple" I found most of the other tracks in this collection to be quite enjoyable. I have always been a big fan of Eugene Mumford and as such I was delighted to find 9 tunes where he is singing the lead. I particularly enjoyed "If You Please", "My Proudest Possession" and "Solitude". From what I had heard of Gene Mumford in the past I thought it was impossible for him to make a bad record. However, his performance on "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" was a distinct disappointment to me. During the Liberty years 1957-1959 Billy Ward liked to let just about everyone in the group do some lead vocals. They were for sure an extremely gifted group. For example, Prentice Moreland gives a memorable performance on "Alone In A Crowd", a previously unreleased tune. Milton Merle does himself proud on an old spiritual "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and on the beautiful ballad "There Is No Greater Love". Even Billy Ward himself gets into the act with a calypso number "Lucinda" and a nifty pop tune called "Do It Again". Also included is the bizarre 1958 hit "Jennie Lee". You may recall this novelty tune was originally recorded by Jan and Arnie. This was originally the "B" side to the groups remake of Tommy Dorsey's 1938 hit "Music, Maestro Please. For some inexpicable reason disc jockeys latched onto to "Jennie Lee" and the song made it all the way to #55 on the Billboard charts. My compliments to the record company for doing a fine remastering job on this material and also for providing us with a thoughtfully done eight page booklet. Recommended.
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