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Album Review

Stay by Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs is as essential and urgent as great doo wop gets, sounding both dreamy and insistently sexy as Williams begs for one more dance, and it's admirably efficient: at one-minute-and-thirty-seven seconds, it doesn't give itself a chance to wear out its welcome. When "Stay" hit, Herald Records matched it up with 11 more tunes and the result was the Zodiacs' first album, imaginatively titled Stay, which is like most albums from the days before the Beatles gave everyone the idea that LP's didn't need to have filler: there isn't another song on board as memorable as the big hit, yet "Come Along" sounds suspiciously like "Stay" all over again; a few old standards are included to pad out the running time (though Williams sounds surprisingly passionate and committed on "The Nearness of You," and "But Not for Me" is jazzed up nicely), and the playing time doesn't break 25 minutes. All that said, this is still a solid set of latter-day doo wop, with Williams delivering a great set of lead vocals and writing a few top-notch songs as well as "Stay"; "I Remember" is sweet and rollicking at once, "Always" gives the group a chance to show off their Latin grooves, "We're Lovers" will please submarine race watchers, and "Little Mama" suggests these guys still listened to their Hank Ballard records on a regular basis. Short, sweet, and plenty of fun for folks who dig vintage vocal group sounds, Stay falls well short of being a classic, but it does capture one of the better R&B groups of their day at the top of their game, which is no small thing.


Born: 26 April 1938 in Lancaster, SC

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s

Maurice Williams is one of the most extraordinarily durable figures in the history of classic R&B and rock & roll, despite the fact that, as a performer, he only ever racked up one major national hit on the pop charts. That song, "Stay," became one of the classic singles in the history of rock -- a number one hit upon its release in 1960 on Al Silver's Herald label, and a popular favorite for decades since, revived in 1987 with its prominent use in the movie Dirty Dancing. Maurice Williams & the...
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