"Though it's been replaced on the market by a newer collection this remains the single best disc for chronicalling the Clovers history if it can be found. The liner notes in the whopping 22 page booklet were written by Nick Tosches and explain not only the group's history, but Atlantic's and the early 50's R&B scene as well. There are pictures, reproduced handbills and ads, plus all the relevant chart and writing information.The songs themselves are among the finest examples of the criminally overlooked early 50's R&B era that led directly to rock 'n' roll. Fifteen of the 21 cuts were Top Ten hits which covered a remarkable four year period with the rest of the songs no less exciting, including the collection's title track, a striptease-paced number that Elvis Presley covered in the late 60's and probably found too suggestive for single release even then. All these songs, with lyrics based on drinking and sex without coy phrases substituted for them as would happen just a few years later, are incendiary, funny and so deep in a groove that you need a periscope to see ground level. Listening to them it is easy to ascertain why the Clovers didn't continue their success once this style led to rock 'n' roll and the market suddenly got younger, whiter and more sensitive to charges of smut and indecency. They were too mature for anything BUT the alley from which they came.As good as this disc is, there are a few minor omissions including their final Atlantic hit (and first Pop Chart appearance) from 1956, "Love Love Love", as well as three B-sides which were Top Ten R&B hits in their own right - "I Played The Fool", "Comin" On" and "Hey Doll Baby" (which the Everly Brothers later covered). Not surprisingly, most of those aren't on the newer collection either. What these companies see in holding back a few stray cuts is anyone's guess. More explicable is the lack of their most famous rock 'n' roll era hit, 1959's original "Love Potion #9", which was made for United Artists, not Atlantic, thus its absence. That song's available on seemingly half the multi-artist compilations of the 50's out there, so anyone wanting that should have it already or have no trouble finding it. You could deduct a half star for this disc being sequenced out of chronological order, the one consistant drawback in the Atlantic/Atco Re-masters series, but otherwise there are no complaints. The sound is great and the effort was clearly made for this to be definitive.As it is they almost pulled it off, and came close enough for this to remain an absolute must-buy for anyone interested in where the roots of rock 'n' roll grew from, for no group was more successful or influencial than the Clovers were in the early 50's. The fact they are not in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame is one of the greatest injustices that misguided organization has ever rendered. Simply put, there'd be no rock 'n' roll without this group or these songs and this disc proves it. Hip, diverse songs, all with vivid lyrics, great vocals, blistering backing and an overall edginess that would soon be lacking in music. If you think rock 'n' roll began with Elvis swivling his hips, take a listen to this and find out what it was that got his pelvis moving in the first place."
Michael S. Kader | Maryland | 11/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"SEE MY REVIEW OF THE CLOVERS' CD "CLASSICS 1950-1953". THIS CD (DOWN IN THE ALLEY: BEST OF . . .) IS THAT COLLECTION OF THE CLOVERS' RECORDINGS FROM ATLANTIC RECORDS THAT I HAD BEEN HOPING TO FIND. IT IS INDEED OUTSTANDING! ALL 21 TRACKS ON THIS CD ARE THE ORIGINAL VERSIONS THAT WERE DONE ON ATLANTIC AND THE QUALITY OF THE REPRODUCTIONS IS EXCELLENT. JUST KEEP IN MIND THAT THE CLOVERS PUT OUT A HUGE QUANTITY OF MUSIC AND THAT ONE CD CANNOT POSSIBLY DO THEM JUSTICE. THIS CD ALONE, AS WITH THE "CLASSICS" CD, TELLS ONLY PART OF THE CLOVERS' STORY. THIS CD, WHEN COMBINED WITH THE "CLASSICS" CD, PROVIDES A TREMENDOUS COLLECTION OF THEIR GREATEST RECORDINGS AND IS WELL WORTH HAVING FOR ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN THE MUSIC THAT WAS THE "ROOTS OF ROCK & ROLL." I DO HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS ONE (AS WELL AS THE "CLASSICS" CD)--- IT WILL BE WORTH EVERY PENNY! I'D STILL LIKE TO KNOW WHY THE CLOVERS ARE NOT IN THE ROCK & ROLL MUSIC HALL OF FAME --- WHAT A GREAT INJUSTICE! "
The Clovers Were There at the REAL Beginning
Eclectic Revisited | Arizona | 10/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Clovers were making music some years before Elvis P. had a regional hit much less really hit the big time. Except for the definitive version of "Love Potion #9" (certainly not the Searchers') which was recorded for another company, their atmospheric hits are all here,dating back to when Clyde McPhatter was still singing backup with Billy Ward and the Dominoes and had not even formed the pre-Ben E. King Drifters. "Fool, Fool, Fool" was one of their very first in that period. Again the definitive version of "Devil or Angel" is here (covered later by Bobby Vee). There were also other versions of their hits (Down in the Alley, Ronnie Hawkins; One Mint Julep, Ray Charles; Blue Velvet, Vaughn Monroe and also Bobby Vinton). None were improvements on the Clovers' versions (though Brother Ray's One Mint Julep was especially nice). Another memorable tune here is Your Cash Ain't Nothing But Trash. This CD is well worth the money if you are a serious collector or want to close your eyes and HEAR how it was in the REAL beginning."
We're goin' ballin' til half past three
Johnny Heering | Bethel, CT United States | 01/07/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Clovers were one of the top R&B vocal groups of the 1950s. They recorded several top 10 R&B hits, most of which are included here. The Clovers had a more "raunchy" sound than most groups. They could even make an innocent song like "Blue Velvet" sound a little dirty. But most of their songs weren't as innocent as that one. The main subjects of their songs were booze and women. There are a lot of great songs here, and fans of '50s R&B should enjoy it."