Collectables Really Needs The Infusion Of A Conscience
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I am totally convinced that Collectables has settled on a policy whereby, in offering up the "best of" any given artist, they deliberately and routinely leave off something significant. How else do you explain that, in a 45-selection box set - that's FORTY-FIVE - for a group that had exactly nine charted hit singles, one with Aladdin and the other eight with Capitol (the labels supposedly covered) they omit one complete double-sided hit and fail to include ONE of the other eight B-sides? Who put this collection together, Elmer Fudd??
This five-man group from Newport News, Virgina - brothers Rudy and Bernie West, Ripley Ingram, Dickie Smith, and Maryland Pierce - had one of the sweetest sounds of any from that era, highlighted by the even, measured tenor tones of Rudy on their first smash hit, The Glory Of Love, which remained at # 1 R&B for four weeks in late summer 1951. Unfortunately, the producer of this set didn't think the flipside, Hucklebuck With Jimmy, was worthy of inclusion.
No other hits ensued while at Aladdin, and after Smith was replaced in 1953 by Ramon Loper, the group was signed to a Capitol contract. There, in 1955, they hit the charts three times, beginning with Ling, Ting, Tong which peaked at # 5 R&B/# 28 Billboard Pop Top 100 in January b/w I'm Alone, followed in March by Close Your Eyes [# 5 R&B b/w Doggone It, You Did It], and in July by The Verdict [# 13 R&B b/w Make Me Um Pow Wow]. Pierce sang lead on each of these while Rudy was serving in the military. Not one of the B-sides for those three hits are here, which is just ridiculous.
To make matters worse, BOTH sides of their first hit in 1956 are also omitted, an oversight compounded by the fact that BOTH sides charted. 'Cause You're My Lover reaching # 12 R&B in January while the flip, Gee Whittakers, went to # 14 R&B, backed by Howard Biggs and His Orchestra, and with Pierce still singing lead. That same year Pat Boone would have a # 19 Pop Top 100 with the B-side.
Later in 1956 Rudy returned to take Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind to # 12 R&B and # 23 Top 100 b/w That's Right [omitted], both with Dave Cavanaugh & His Orchestra, and early in 1957 Wisdom Of A Fool topped out at # 35 Top 100, backed by the Van Alexander Orchestra but, strangely, did not make the R&B charts. It's flipside was Now Don't That Prove I Love You.
Their last charted hit, which came in April 1957, again with Dave Cavanaugh's orchestra, also failed to make the R&B charts, but Let There Be You did reach # 69 Top 100 b/w Tiger Lily. That too is left off.
Unlike many of their contemporaries The Five Keys remained together well into the 1970s, although another hit single would never be achieved, either for Capitol, King, Segway, and Bim Bam Boom, among others. Sadly. Ripley Ingram passed away at age 65 on March 23, 1995, followed three years later on May 14, 1998 by Rudy West.
Truly one of the best all-male vocal groups of the 1950s and deserving of a better, more comprehensive compilation than this shoddy presentation by Collectables."