Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|The Hollywood Flames|
Genres: Blues, Pop, R&B, Rock
Listen to Samples
A 50's vocal group changes with the times
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This CD contains tracks recorded from 1951 through 1959 by a group with shifting personnel, shifting names and shifting styles. The best tracks are "Wheel of Fortune" and "Tabarin" both done in a 40's vocal group ballad style, "W-I-N-E" done as uptempo R&B, "Buzz, Buzz, Buzz" done as uptempo 50's rock and roll, and "Just for You" done as a doo-wop ballad. The worst cuts are "Frankenstein's Den" a novelty/comedy attempt and "Strollin' on the Beach" an uptempo rock and roll number with pop overtones. Amongst the other tracks there are several blues ballads as well as more doo-wop, R&B and rock and roll cuts. This group recorded in so many different styles that it is difficult to say much in general about the CD other than the music is good and reflects the evolution of vocal group music during the 1950's."
Too Many Personnel Changes To Maintain A Following
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Formed in 1950 as The Flames by Bobby Byrd, they went through several name changes, including The Four Flames, Jets, and Tangiers, while recording for several small labels, among them Hollywood, Swingtime, Lucky and Money, without ever cracking the charts.
That changed in 1957 when they hooked up with the Ebb subsidiary of Art Rupe's Specialty Records, an operation run by his wife, by which time they had settled on The Hollywood Flames. At this stage the group consisted of Byrd, Earl Nelson, Clyde Tillis, David Ford, and one-time Penguins member Curtis Williams, and after the release of the upbeat Buzz Buzz Buzz with Nelson on lead, they saw it rise to # 5 R&B and # 11 on the Billboard Pop Top 100 late in the year. Even the flipside, Crazy, received a fair amount of air play, and is regarded as a "follow-along" Top 100 hit.
Meanwhile Byrd, recording as Bobby Day & The Satellites for the Class label, had a # 57 Top 100 at much the same time with a cover of the Thurston Harris smash, Little Bitty Pretty One (which was shut out on the R&B Top 100). Then, as simply Bobby Day, he would go on to post five more hit singles for Class to 1959, including his own smash hit, Rock-In Robin, in 1958 # 1 R&B/# 2 Billboard Hot 100 b/w Over And Over - a R&B "follow-along" and # 41 Hot 100].
Meanwhile, the name Hollywood Flames, with repeated changes, would hang around for several more years, but only in 1961 did they return to the charts when a cover of the 1954 Crows hit, Gee, and with Donald Height now on lead, made it to # 26 R&B b/w Yes They Do for the Chess label. Neither of those is included here. In 1966 and 1969 Height would then have two minor R&B hits - My Baby's Gone [# 20 for Shout] and a cover of the Joe South hit, Games People Play [# 47 for Jubilee].
Bobby [Byrd] Day and Nelson would also record as the duo Bob & Earl, but for the only three hits credited to that duet the "Bob" part was taken over by Bob Relf. In late 1962 Don't Ever Leave Me reached # 85 Hot 100 for the Tempe label, and in January 1964, now with the Marc label, Harlem Shuffle would peak at # 44 [the Rolling Stones would have a # 5 with it in 1986], and in 1966 Baby, It's Over hit # 26 R&B for Mirwood.
In between, Nelson, recording as Jackie Lee for Mirwood, had a # 4 R&B/# 14 Hot 100 with The Duck early in 1966, followed by African Boo-Ga-Loo in May 1968 [# 43 R&B for the Keymen label], and in 1970 reached # 47 R&B with The Chicken on the Uni label. His final hit then came in 1978 when, recording as Jay Dee for Warner, he had a # 88 R&B with Strange Funky Games And Things.
So, hit singles for The Hollywood Flames were scarce as hen's teeth, due in part to the small label curse in their early years, but also in light of the fact they never could generate and maintain a distinctive sound thanks to the revolving-door membership. However, they did spawn several other successful acts, easily the best of which was Bobby Day, who passed away in July 1990 at age 60.
This release, complete with informative background notes, covers the group's best efforts while with Specialty/Ebb and is a nice addition to any serious R&B group collection."