11 Songs, 32 Minutes


About Untouchables

The labyrinthine history of Los Angeles doo wop group the Untouchables dates to early 1955, when second tenor Sheridan "Rip" Spencer formed the Sabers with his cousin Brice Coefield, who assumed baritone duties. According to Marv Goldberg's profile on his R&B Notebooks website, the cousins went through a series of name and roster changes before forming the Valiants with first tenor Billy Spicer and guitarist Chester Pipkin. In late 1957, their Keen label debut, "This Is the Night," fell just shy of the R&B Top 40, additionally crossing over to the number 69 slot on the pop charts. Subsequent efforts fell well short of the charts, however, and in 1958 Keen terminated the group's contract. Spicer exited the lineup soon after, adopting the name Billy Storm and scoring a Top 40 pop hit the following year with "I've Come of Age." Meanwhile, the remaining Valiants added tenor Don Trotter and bass Ed Wallace to cut "Dear Cindy" for the London Records subsidiary Shar-Dee before changing their name to the Untouchables. After signing with producers Herb Alpert and Lou Adler, the group released 1960's "New Fad" on the Madison imprint, the first in a series of little-noticed efforts for the fledgling label including a cover of the Spaniels' classic "Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight" and "Sixty Minute Man." For reasons unknown, a 1961 one-off for the Screen Gems label, "Summertime Nights," credits the Happy Tones, but the Untouchables aegis was again in place by the time the group signed to Liberty in the spring of 1961 for "You're on Top." The follow-up, "Papa," deserves footnote status for featuring producer Alpert's first recorded trumpet performance, an instrument he would further pursue to enormous commercial success. By 1962 the Untouchables were no more, although Spencer and Coefield soon reunited in the Alley Cats, a group of session vocalists organized by Lou Adler for lease to producer Phil Spector. Although the Alley Cats' debut effort, "Puddin' n' Tain," ascended to number 21 on the R&B chart in early 1963, the mercurial Spector chose not to work with the group again, but in 1968 Adler recruited Spencer, Coefield, and Chester Pipkin to join a new studio group dubbed Africa, cutting the Ode label psychedelic soul cult classic Music from "Lil Brown". ~ Jason Ankeny

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