Friday, February 03, 2006

The Robins, Leiber and Stoller, The Coasters, and Leiber and Stoller again.

I am hastening to get this up as Alex over at Moistworks has another Robins track up today. I thought I'd have tomorrow morning to do it. C'est La Vie.
It was prompted by a comment over at Spread The Good Word about the Clovers. I don't normally think of The Clovers and The Coasters in the same space, and this got me to. So here are a few tracks so you can think about it for your self.
The Robins began back in the Misty Morning of Doo-Wop in 1945 on the West Coast when Ty Terrell and the Richard Brothers started singing together. In 1947 they got spotted by Johnny Otis who paired them up with bass, Bobby Nunn, and had them record as The Bluebirds, though it wasn't until 1949 that they recorded as The Robins, and from this same session scored a huge hit with the sassy Double Crossin Blues (Nunn dueting with Little Esther). Read the story at the always excellent Marv Goldberg's Notebook They did Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's first commercial song "That's What the Good Book Says" an alt take of which is over at Moistworks today (and tomorrow)
Much label hopping ensued until 1954 when Otis introduced them to Carl Gardner, and a few months later they met Leiber and Stoller and began to record for their Spark label. From their second session we have I Must Be Dreamin' MP3 and you have to read Uncle Marv's article to learn the rest.

The upshot was that Leiber and Stoller went to Atlantic Records in New York and The Robins had the chance to go with them. Bobby Nunn went for it, and some fancy footwork convinced Carl Gardner to go as well. The others stayed and the name "The Robins" stayed with them, because Ty Terrell had patented it. A trick that managers and record companies usually pulled to retain control of a famous group. So when they recorded in New York the new group called themselves The Coasters, linking themselves to their West Coast roots. Learn much much more in the amazingly detailed Coasters Discography and listen to Searchin' MP3 as an example of their style. This is where the Clovers comparison doesn't add up. The Clovers where sleek and demure, and when they rocked they did it with elegance. The Coasters on the other hand were clowns, through and through, and excelled at creating fun. A great rollicking party of a sound. I don't want to make a big thing of it, but hey ... take your inspiration where you find it ;~)

They had a great run of hits working with Leiber and Stoller until the early sixties ... and that might have been the end of it, except they got together again and recorded Soul Pad MP3 with Leiber and Stoller producing, Phil Ramone as engineer, and the great James Booker on Piano. In 1965, on Date records with "Down Home Girl on the flipside. WHich you can hear if you look carefully through the discography! In 1967 they recorded DW Washburn MP3 and then the following year Leiber and Stoller remastered the Date tracks for King which is where my single comes from.

The thing that gets me is how little their style changes with the various musical backings they work with ... and how great they are, of course.

Enjoy, and then buy everything you can find. Yes. Everything.


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