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The Coasters: The Coasters [Atco]

Track List

>Searchin'
>One Kiss Led to Another
>Brazil
>Turtle Dovin'
>Smokey Joe's Cafe
>Wrap It Up
>Riot in Cell Block No. 9
>Young Blood
>Loop de Loop Mambo
>One Kiss
>I Must Be Dreamin'
>Lola
>Framed
>Down in Mexico

Album Notes

Sometimes even the simplest looking records require a program to keep up with the personnel involved, and this debut album by the Coasters is a perfect example. For starters, they weren't even yet "the Coasters" when seven of the 14 songs here were recorded -- the material covers four years and two distinct lineups, including the period when the group was known as the Robins and signed to producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's Spark Records. Like most R&B LPs of its period, The Coasters was more of a compilation than an actual album in conception -- the group had just come off a pair of Top Ten hits on the pop charts, "Young Blood" and "Searchin'," and Atlantic Records saw merit in issuing a long-player as a way of promoting the group to yet another facet of the record-buying public. Rather than having them cut new songs, Leiber & Stoller assembled 13 existing songs (including the two hits) together on the 12" platter, plus one previously unissued track, "Lola," that came out of the same session as the two hits. "Smokey Joe's Cafe," "Wrap It Up," "Loop de Loop Mambo," "One Kiss," "Riot in Cell Block Number Nine," "I Must Be Dreamin'," and "Framed" were actually recorded by the Robins, the precursors to the Coasters. The group consisted of Carl Gardner, Bobby Nunn, Grady Chapman, Ty Terrell, Billy Richards, and Roy Richards (augmented by session singer and composer Richard Berry on "Riot in Cell Block Number Nine") and had never recorded for Atlantic; everything else is by the Coasters, whose membership consisted of Gardner, Nunn, Billy Guy, and Leon Hughes during 1956 and 1957. All of that said, this is still a fun record in the extreme, with enough variety in its sound and production to make it one of the most entertaining R&B vocal harmony records of its period -- the fact that the variety is a bit of a cheat doesn't alter the fun one will have listening to this album, which benefits not only from several years' worth of Leiber & Stoller songwriting but also their approach as producers to the 1940s pop standard "Brazil" as well. Starting with "Searchin'," the album moves through the comical/romantic "One Kiss Led to Another" and the elegantly humorous "Brazil" (dressed up in doo wop harmony, and done at a jaunty tempo) and jumps to the bouncy "Turtle Dovin'" -- highlighted by Adolph Jacobs' twangy guitar flourishes. Up to this point, everything here has been by the Coasters, but now Leiber & Stoller feed listeners the Robins' "Smokey Joe's Cafe," and the side fills out with their sides, closing out with "Riot in Cell Block Number Nine." Side two opens with "Young Blood" and then it's back to the Robins until the finale, with the elegant "Lola" and the seductive and suggestive "Down in Mexico" sandwiching the Robins' "Framed," the latter a surprisingly upbeat piece of social realism. The sound is amazingly consistent considering the differences in personnel between the tracks and the time range covered, and is a tribute to Leiber & Stoller as producers. ~ Bruce Eder



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