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The Very Best of the Four Lads

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Album Review

The myriad of Four-something vocal quartets in the '50s tend to get lumped together even though many of them had very distinct styles. From the microtonal complexity of the Four Freshmen to the collegiate humor of the Four Preps, they were as individual as any other groups around. In the case of the Four Lads, it's a little harder to pinpoint their sound because it changed throughout the course of their career. They started out strongly influenced by the black jubilee gospel quartets, recorded a series of popular novelty records under the auspices of Mitch Miller, then settled into interpreting pop standards and adult ballads in their rich, unadorned style. The Four Lads were probably closest in sound to the Ames Brothers by the end of the '50s, but their Canadian heritage and unique influences gave them a subtly distinct character. Moments to Remember: The Very Best of the Four Lads is an excellent 21-track collection of their original hit recordings beginning with their first hit, "The Mocking Bird" from 1952, and following through to the end of their chart career in 1959. The collection omits a few early Top 40 hits in favor of minor chart items from the late '50s like "The Girl on Page 44" and "Happy Anniversary," but contains most of the group's hits and is a definitive anthology.

Biography

Formed: 1951 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Four Lads were experts at close harmony and a cappella and were very much influenced by Negro spirituals and gospel music. They scored a number of pop Top 100 hits during the early '50s, including "The Mockingbird" (1952), "Skokian" (1954), "Moments to Remember" (1955), and "No, Not Much!" and "Standing on the Corner" (both in 1956). Their initial break came while backing Johnny Ray on his early-'50s hits "Cry" and "The Little White Cloud That Cried" for Columbia Records. The Four Lads launched...
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