Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Anthology: Monkey Hips & Rice
Genres: Blues, Pop, R&B, Rock
"Let Nothing Separate Me"... from this album!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"King Records of Cincinnati seemed to take a back seat in the 50's to Atlantic Records when it came to recognition in the birth of rock 'n' roll. Despite great groups and solo singers alike, some huge hits, and innovative productions, King/Federal were a step behind when it came to credit. The years following the 50's didn't help. While Atlantic made the transition into the 60's and even 70's seemlessly, with pop, rock, soul and hard rock, King Records saw the wheels fall off. Then in the 80's & 90's, when Atlantic's legacy was assured through comprehensive CD collections that introduced their feats to a new generation, King's back catalog languished, with just hastily assembled resissues of past albums, with no notes or added material, or worse yet, remained unavailable entirely.This began to change somewhat in 1994 with the King Master Series, giving Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, Little Willie John, Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown and Billy Ward & The Dominoes well done 20 track greatest hits collections with nice notes and session info. There were no unearthed gems, but they were solid primers with a touch of class too often lacking in many packages. But it was the "5" Royales, a group with comparatively little success, especially on King, that got the biggest spotlight - a double disc set with 41 songs, including ten from their early days on Apollo Records when they scored two #1 R&B hits (the racy "Baby Don't Do It" and the soulful "Help Me Somebody"), plus a bunch of Top Tens which got them named the biggest R&B group of 1953 with their gospel meets roadhouse records. It was a beautiful collection and showed in stunning fashion why the "5" Royales could lay claim to being the first ever soul group. But while those other artists' discs remain available, licensing issues made "Monkey Hips & Rice" shortlived on the market, as their lease agreement for those Apollo sides ran out and the album was pulled from circulation, resulting today in exorbitant prices online for used copies.But if you can find it, and afford the mark-ups, this is an absolutely mandatory purchase for anyone interested in how the music of the time went from gospel to rock and then straight to the soul of the 60's. Today, their entire Apollo history is available on "All Righty", an excellent package which is a fine place to start, but to truly tell their story, and show their amazing progression, their King work is essential and sadly, much harder to find. "Monkey Hips & Rice" puts the best of it on a disc and a half here, 31 cuts, and while they produced just three small hits in that time, they more than made up for quantity of hits in quality of material.While not alien to 50's rock as you know it, this seems far too advanced for high school sock hops. With Lowman Pauling's stinging electric guitar fills, great group vocals with mature, often racy leads by Johnny Tanner or occasionally his brother Eugene, and topically diverse songs, the "5" Royales were essentially a 40's gospel/R&B outfit that skipped over the 50's and landed at the forefront of the 60's soul movement. Their stab at doo wop on "Tears Of Joy" lays to waste most songs of that style, at least in intensity. "The Slummer The Slum" is a dazzling non-existant dance step set to the most extraordinary guitar licks and singing imaginable, while the title track, "Monkey Hips & Rice" is downright hysterical. From their early "Laundromat Blues", which is as suggestive as anything from that time, to the mindbending guitar work on "Say It", which gave Jimi Hendrix something to aspire to in the future, this collection will continually astonish. How they didn't become stars at the time might be understandable considering the powers that be were having a tough enough time reining in Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, (plus the fact that King Records president Syd Nathan skimped on paying for distribution), but it is utterly incomprehensible how the "5" Royales haven't become legendary in retrospect.They truly were the only act of their kind. The soul movement of the 60's would be unthinkable without their influence on Steve Cropper alone (who emulated Pauling's guitarwork), not to mention their merger of gospel tricks and bluesy growls, plus the hit cover versions of their songs "Think", "Dedicated To The One I Love", and "Tell The Truth" that bigger name stars from James Brown, to the Shirelles, to Otis Redding had. The "5" Royales should be in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame as an early influence if nothing else, and this set proves it unequivocally."Monkey Hips & Rice" may not have been around long but it left its mark with great song selection, in-depth liner notes that tell their shamefully overlooked story, and hopefully, in the future, it will make a return in some form or fashion to show the world what they missed in the 50's and in the years since. Hope you can get a copy yourself, but don't look to mine, because those who have this wouldn't part with it for anything."