The Model For All Girl Groups That Followed
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Chantels were, quite simply, the premier girl group of their era. Led by Arlene Smith (born 1941), they included Rene Minus (1943), Lois Harris (1940), Sonia Goring (1940) and Jackie Landry (1940) - barely teenagers all when their first big hit on George Goldner's End label, Maybe, launched them into national prominence.
Going to # 2 R&B and # 15 Billboard Top 100 in March 1958, b/w Come My Little Baby, it spent a combined 25 weeks on those charts. Their next release that year, Ev'ry Night (I Pray) b/w Whoever You Are didn't fare nearly as well, topping out at # 16 R&B and # 39 Top 100 in late April, but that was still quite respectable considering the hefty competition from the likes of Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, Pat Boone, Gene Vincent, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly & The Crickets, Connie Francis, Brena Lee, et el.
Their third hit in 1958, I Love You So (b/w How Could You Call It Off) did marginally better on the R&B charts, going to # 14, but just failed to make the Top 100 Top 40 at # 42. In 1959 the man who produced all their hits to date, Richard Barrett, joined them in the billing (Richard Barrett With The Chantels) for Summer's Love, a # 29 R&B charter that September, but only able to make # 93 Hot 100.
Further chart success on End eluded them but in the fall of 1961, after signing with Carlton, they were back with Look In My Eyes (b/w the appropos Glad To Be Back), a # 6 R&B smash and a decent # 14 Hot 100 showing. Their next hit, borrowing from a Country specialty, was an "answer" to the Ray Charles' huge hit, Hit The Road Jack. Called, Well, I Told You, it made # 29 Hot 100 but for some strange reason failed to dent the R&B Top 100. Go figure.
Again there was a two-year hiatus from the charts before they had a minor - their final - hit with Eternally on the Ludix label. Not the same song as either the Sarah Vaughan (1960) OR the Thomas Wayne (1959) hit of the same name, it only managed to reach # 77 Hot 100 in 1963.
With Barrett now concentrating on a new female group, The Three Degrees, The Chantels drifted from Ludix to Verve, and finally to RCA without luck. Arlene then took her powerful voice to Spectorious and Big Top, but again met with no chart success as a single artist. Sadly, any reunion performances will have to be without Jackie Landry, who succumbed to cancer two days before Christmas in 1997.
A very important group who paved the way for The Shirelles, Marvelettes, Cookies, Ronettes and, yes, The Supremes - among others - this CD should be given a prominent place in your collection."