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Dreams, Pleas & Blues

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Album Review

The Ravens were one of the first, if not the first, of all of the doo wop groups; numerous groups followed in their wake in the '50s, groups that utilized the basic ground rules the Ravens set into place on their late-'40s recordings for Herb Abramson's

National label. Upon leaving National for the greener pastures of major-label Columbia in 1950, they made dynamite recordings that inexplicably emerged stillborn in the marketplace, yielding no hits of any kind during their two-year tenure with the label. Dreams, Pleas & Blues collects up all the Ravens material — issued, unissued, and even one alternate take — and clearly shows that the group was still cutting some mighty fine records, even if their place on the charts was denied largely due to quickly changing trends. Their first session with the Benny Goodman Sextet backing them yielded a cover of Louis Prima's hit "Oh Babe," and already showed the group to be chasing trends rather than creating them, as they had only a couple of years before. The small-jazz-combo-backing idea stays with them through "Time Takes Care of Everything" and "Don't Look Now," while "I'm so Crazy for Love," "Midnight Blues," "Honey I Don't Want You," and "My Baby's Gone" hark back to their earlier National jump blues with a simple, small rhythm section backing. The Ravens tried a little bit of everything to score a hit at Columbia, including hopped-up novelty material like "The Whiffenpoof Song," "That Old Gang of Mine," and "The Calypso Song," and even a precursor to R&B with "I Get All My Lovin' on a Saturday Night," but none of it proved hit-worthy. These aren't the recordings to start your Ravens collection with, but it might not be a bad place to end up.


Formed: 1946

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '40s, '50s

The Ravens were among the pioneering post-World War II R&B groups, and also among the earliest R&B groups named for birds. In both their musicality and their nomenclature, they influenced two generations of performers that followed, as well as sold lots of records in the process. The Ravens originated with Jimmy Ricks (born 1924, Jackson, FL; died 1974, New York, NY), who started singing at an early age. In 1945, he was employed as a waiter at the Four Hundred Tavern and later at an establishment...
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