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June 12 - 18, 2022
Year of Release: 1996
26 Miles (Santa Catalina)
Lazy Summer Night
I Ain't Never
Down By The Station
(Early In The Morning)
Got A Girl
More Money For You And Me
THe Big Draft (Medley)
A Letter To The Beatles
I've Known You All My Life
I'll Never Be The Same
The Girl In The Shade Of
The Striped Umbrella
Let's Call It A Day Girl
Love Of The Common People
Draft Doger Rag
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The 1950s and 1960s vocal groups had many "Four" groups - particulary four male vocal groups - The Four Aces, The Four Lads, The Four Preps, and (probably the
most popular, especially from the 1960s) The Four Seasons (featuring Frankie Valli). From this list, The Four Preps gets the nod for this week's WSVNRadio review.
The most memorable song by The Four Preps from my knowledge, was having the 45 record of their hit, "26 Miles (Santa Cantalina)." The Four Preps would achieve
many other hits. Their Collectors Series compilation consists of 20 tracks, from the years 1956 to 1967, on Capitol Records.
"Dreamy Eyes" opens the compilation, as it has the perfect doo-wop sound that was most popular in the mid-1950s. Just as the other "four groups"
mentioned (Four Aces, Four Lads), this song has the more "Easy Listening" doo-wop sound. (In listening to this on CD, it is way much clearer than that of the 45.)
"Big Man" was one of the group's signature songs, likewise "Lazy Summer Night" and "Down By The Station (Early In The Morning)." Although
"26 Miles" was the signature song that I remembered, their other signature songs distinguishes the group as true and talented vocalists.
"Summertimes Lies" was the flip side to their hit "Lazy Summer Night." Unfortunately, the flip side to "26 Miles," "It's You" was not
included on this compilation. "Cinderella" was from a movie that included the Four Preps in the Columbia Pictures movie "Gidget." And for the
Country fans, their version of "I Ain't Never" may sound familiar -- it was written Mel Tillis and Webb Pierce. Both Pierce and Tillis (most memorable)
would record their own versions. "Got A Girl" was the follow up to ""Down By The Station (Early In The Morning)." They would perform this song on
Dick Clark's American Bandstand, of which the group would perform there, 14 times.
"More Money For You And Me" was recorded on campus, at North Hollywood High (1960). A live recording, with spoken words and all. This song was a medley
and parody, in which popular "competing" groups would be "eliminated" - such as The Fleetwoods, The Hollywood Argyles, The Platters, The Four Freshmen, The Kingston
Trio, and Dion & The Belmonts. Amazingly done well, and live. "The Seine" was a "laid back" track for the group, ending the year 1961. Another medley/parody,
"The Big Draft," would be based on groups "drafting them into the Armed Forces." Again, it was "on campus," and live. Many radio stations tied the record
into their promotions of a "Big Draft" contest wherein the deejays urged listeners to write in and tell them which jocks they most wanted to see get drafted.
"Charmaine" was the Four Prep's version of another group from the UK, The Bachelors. Both the song and The Bachelors didn't really make any noise here in
the U.S. Of course, another group from England would explode on the scene, The Beatles. "A Letter To The Beatles" would be a novelty hit, with references
to the Fab Four's latest hit recordings. Carole King and Gerry Goffin were writing many songs in the 1960s, as their "I've Known You All My Life" was recorded
by The Four Preps. A Phil Spector-styled projection, it was recorded with a short drumroll, which would be edited out. It is included on this version.
"I'll Never Be The Same" was inspired by Glenn Yarbough's "Baby, The Rain Must Fall." It also has the Phil Spector style. Written and sung by
Four Preps member Ed Cobb, this song would get "lost in the shuffle." Although Cobb would write other songs, which would be popular by artists, and also as producer.
Also to mention, that other members of the Four Preps would write/co-write hit songs - Bruce Belland, Glen A. Larson. "The Girl In The Shade Of The Striped
Umbrella" definitely has the Easy Listening vibe (as in The Lettermen), and it would be rated on American Bandstand. Yet the flip side of this song
probably would have done better - "Let Call It A Day Girl." In fact, this song sounds more like a song that The Four Seasons could have recorded.
Ed Cobb would be replaced by former Diamonds vocalist, David Sommerville. His lead vocals is heard on "Love Of The Common People." The Diamonds' big
hit was "Little Darlin'." Ending the album is "Draft Dodger Rag," a protest song, written by Phil Ochs. Ochs would accomplish a career of his own.
This song provided a overdub of a live audience.
The Four Preps' Collectors Series is a great compilation of a vocal group you may or may not have heard of. You can hear their musical styles throughout
the years. Doo-wop, "Easy Listening," folk. And comparisons to many - The Four Aces, The Kingston Trio, The Four Seasons. Their version of Mel Tillis' "I Ain't
Never" has the early Country sound. The information/history of this group is also interesting to read and learn.
"26 Miles" just maybe the true song that I've always remembered, but listening to this set of their hits (which I wasn't familiar with), the novelty
tracks - the vocal group medleys, and the letter to the Beatles, The Four Preps were definitely a talented group. Bruce Belland is the only original member living
today. The other original members have pasesd away: Ed Cobb (1999), Marv Ingram (1999), and Glen A. Larson (2014). Bruce Belland performs as The Four Preps, with
three new members - Bob Duncan (formerly of The Diamonds and The Crew Cuts), Michael Redman (formerly of The Crew Cuts), and Jim Armstrong.
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