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Their Complete National Recordings 1947-1950

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Album Review

The Ravens never made an impact equal to their talent, stranded as they were between the debut of black harmony pop with the Ink Spots and Mills Brothers and the doo wop explosion of the early '50s that they helped engender. And without a big hit, like contemporaries the Orioles, the group hasn't been treated with much respect by reissue labels or collectors. After several spotty digital-era collections that rarely gave them their due, Savoy Jazz released the three-disc Their Complete National Recordings 1947-1950 compilation, one that finally gathered all the group's classic sides on one set. Alongside the familiar performances — "Ol' Man River," "Write Me a Letter," and "Be I Bumble Bee or Not" — are a smattering of unreleased alternate takes and a cappellas, most of them interesting only for collectors. A few of the Ravens' neglected performances shine with this treatment, including "Deep Purple," wherein the group's star, Jimmy Ricks, wraps his gauzy bass vocals around the entire production like a safety net. The sound is also better than on previous National-era collections such as Be I Bumble Bee or Not.


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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Their Complete National Recordings 1947-1950, The Ravens
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