One by One

by: The Coasters

This is a strange CD, mostly owing to the concept behind the original LP upon which it is built. For their second album, the Coasters and their producers, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, decided to try recording a brace of pre-rock & roll standards, including "Satin Doll," "On the Sunny Side of the Street," "Autumn Leaves," "Moonlight in Vermont," etc. The album stands by itself, a unique monument to the sheer range of the group's talent -- but expanding it for this CD was a problematic notion at best, owing to the fact that there was little from elsewhere in their tape library that really meshes with the original dozen songs. What we do get, however, is closer to what most fans expect of a Coasters album, rollicking, good-time rock & roll and R&B harmony vocal music. In this case, the bonus material also includes a pair of tracks, "T'ain't Nothing to Me" and "Speedo's Back in Town," cut live at the Apollo Theater in New York on November 13, 1963. Given the limitations of live recording at the time, and the fact that "T'ain't Nothin'" was as much theater as music, they come off exceptionally well, especially Earl "Speedo" Carroll on the latter song. The disc is filled out with alternate takes of "Stewball," "Charlie Brown," and "Along Came Jones," as well as a previously unheard up-tempo rendition of "Riding Hood," but the real surprise lies with the mid-'60s sides, among the group's least-known work. These include the 1964 rendition of "I Must Be Dreamin'" that recaptures the gritty, humorous edge of the original group, and the 1965-vintage "Money Honey" and "Let's Go Get Stoned." The former is a distinctly un-Drifters-like take on the Clyde McPhatter-era standard, while the latter is a piece of wonderfully gritty R&B that was subsequently a hit for Ray Charles (and is done in a style very much like his here, by Billy Guy as lead singer). The sound is excellent, and the annotation by Seamus McGarvey is highly informative. ~ Bruce Eder

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