Dells, The: It's Not Unusual (Vinyl LP)

Dells, The: It's Not Unusual (Vinyl LP)

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Limited edition 180g vinyl reissue of the Chicago vocal group’s 1966 album. Includes the R&B hit ‘Stay In My Corner’ alongside Jazz and Pop standards. Formed in the Chicago suburb of Harvey in 1952, The Dells were one of the best-loved and longest-lived of all the Rock’n’Roll era vocal groups and, unlike many of their peers, they managed to retain very nearly the same members throughout a six decades-spanning career. Adapting their early sound from street corner harmonies and R&B to more sophisticated supperclub Soul and Jazz, The Dells appeal rested on their ability to weather changing musical tastes.

Their 1966 Vee-Jay album It’s Not Unusual reveals just how broad their repertoire was; released on the cusp of the label’s demise, The Dells had only recently registered an R&B Top 30 hit with ‘Stay In My Corner’ and were touring as Ray Charles’ short-lived support act. The original line up of lead baritone Marvin Junior, lead tenor Johnny Funches (later replaced by lead/falsetto tenor Johnny Carter), tenors Verne Allison and Lucius McGill, second baritone Mickey McGill and bass Chuck Barksdale first recorded as The El-Rays for Chess subsidiary Checker. The record flopped and Lucius departed, cutting the group down to a quintet. Re-Christened The Dells, they signed to Vee-Jay in 1955 where they scored a minor local hit with ‘Dreams Of Contentment’ but 1956 yielded a bone fide Doo Wop classic in the shape of R&B Top 5 hit ‘Oh What A Nite’.

A near fatal automobile accident in 1958 resulted in damage to Junior’s larynx (permanently altering his voice) and severe injury to McGill’s leg whereupon the band took a leave of absence. Reconvening without Funches in 1960 as both the opening act and backing band for Dinah Washington, the group were able to further hone their skills under the tutelage of vocal coach Kirk Stewart and producer Quincy Jones who helped them perfect the art of jazz harmony singing. They toured with Washington for two years, recorded back-up for Atlantic’s Barbara Lewis and subsequently returned to Vee-Jay to record in an R&B vein, although their nightclub show continued to focus on jazzier/MOR material as is evidenced by this album.

  1. It’s Not Unusual
  2. I’ve Got A Woman
  3. Stay In My Corner
  4. Witchcraft
  5. Li’l Darlin’
  6. My Baby Just Cares For Me
  7. Ev’ry Day I Have The Blues
  8. Let’s Do It Ove
  9. What Do We Prove
  10. Jeepers Creepers
  11. Alexander’s Ragtime Band

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