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New York's Finest

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Album Review

One of New York's finest early doo wop groups' early sides from 1956 to 1961 first recorded on Whirling Disc, Fury, and Port Records. Only two Gone releases (from 1957-1958) are missing — must be a licensing problem. The Channels were not only unique vocally, Earl Lewis' leads rank up there and Clifton Wright's bass expressions gets A's for creativity; but if you didn't know the Channels were five African-Americans you could only guess at their ethnicity. As Eddie Levert (the O'Jays) once said about the song "Wildflower" the first time he heard it: "I thought it was a white guy trying to do a black thing but discovered it was a black guy (Donny Gerrard, an African-American, was Skylark's lead singer) doing a white thing." The Channels deliver buttery, stuttering doo wop at its best — check out "I Really Love You," "Flames in My Heart," or "The Gleam in Your Eyes"; they were also exquisite at jump R&B, i.e., "What Do You Do" and "My Loving Baby." Lewis wrote many of these tracks only to find producer/record label owner Bobby Robinson's name listed as co-writer when the record came out. Such is music, such is life. Essential for doo wop lovers.

New York's Finest, Earl Lewis
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