This 2000 release on England's WestSide label covers the entire output of two fairly early "bird" groups - the Crows and the Wrens - who recorded for George Goldner's Rama, Tico and Gee labels between 1953 and 1956.
The Crows were a Harlem "street corner" group that began singing together in 1951. By the time they began recording in 1953, the group consisted of Daniel "Sonny" Norton (lead), Harold Major (tenor), Mark Johnson (tenor/guitarist), William "Bill" Davis (baritone), and Gerald Hamilton (bass). They had won an amateur contest at the famed Apollo Theatre and were signed by Goldner to his Rama label shortly thereafter. Their only charted record was "Gee" - which, in turn spawned a new Goldner label. Their "Mambo Shevitz" was a take-off on a radio commercial for Manischewitz (pronounced "Man-A-Shevitz") kosher wine - Goldner had the guts to try just about anything for a hit.
Vocal group aficionado John Charles Marion has an article about the Crows (and the Chords) on his Website.
The Wrens started singing together at a community centre in the Bronx in 1954. The group consisted of Bobby Mansfield (lead), George Magnezid (tenor), Francis "Frenchie" Concepcion (tenor), and James "Archie" Archer (bass). The group remained the same through all releases until "I Won't Come to Your Wedding" / "What Makes You Do The Things You Do," which was recorded after "Archie" went into the army and was replaced by a bass remembered only as "Rocky." "C'est La Vie" was recorded by Bobby Mansfield, backed by the Valentines, after the group broke up, but was labelled as being by the Wrens. The flip side of "C'est la Vie" was an instrumental version of the same number by Jimmy Wright's orchestra, which does not appear on this CD.
Vocal group harmony expert Marv Goldberg has posted an in-depth article about the Wrens to his Website.
Lots of good New York City street corner-type harmony here. Worthy of your R&B, Rock 'N' Roll, or Doo-Wop collection.
The CD and insert are in good condition, the cover is slightly scratched.