The Flamingos - Part 2 : Decca, End, and Beyond©2006JCMarion


In June of 1957 The Flamingos sign with Decca Records. The group at this time consists of Jacob Carey, Nate Nelson, Paul Wilson, Terry Johnson, and Tommy Hunt. Zeke Carey and Johnny Carter had been called to military service. The first recording for the group on the Decca label is "The Ladder Of Love" and "Let's Make Up" on # 30335. In June the group signs up for an extended engagement at the Club Martinique in Atlantic City. In October Decca releases the group's newest recording "My Faith In You" and "Helpless" on # 30454. In the summer of 1958 Decca Records releases "The Rock And Roll March" and "Where Mary Go" on # 30687. In October of the year George Goldner announces the signing of The Flamingos to his new Gone-End Records company which ends a less than productive time at the hands of Decca Records. Within a few days the first effort for the group on End Records is out. "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" and "That Love Is You" on # 1035. After a lost period of time on Decca the group returns to the top sellers list and heavy radio play with a super ballad hit "Lovers". This is a bit of a return to their glory days on Checker where they had a number of impressive ballad hits. The great sales for "Lovers" helps Goldner's labels near one million in sales for the month of January and are looking good for a substantial increase for February.

In February Checker sees the impressive sales figures and releases an LP album of Flamingos recordings that the group had recorded for them three and four years earlier. In late February "But Not For Me" and "I Shed A Tear At Your Wedding" are released on End # 1040. Checker gets into the act when they release something off the shelf and in the can by The Flamingos. "Whispering Stars" and "Dream Of A Lifetime" are on # 916. The group during this stretch is a sextet with the return of Zeke Carey (Johnny Carter returned, but joined another area vocal group The Dells). Decca Records gets into the act also with a Flamingos release of "Ever Since I Met Lucy" and "Kiss-A-Me" on # 30880. In May "Goodnight Sweetheart" and "I Only Have Eyes For You" is released on End # 1046. "Eyes" is an immediate hit in Philadelphia and soon spreads to the entire Northeast and has the momentum to be a huge hit. The dramatic atmosphere that surrounds the recording is sufficient to attract a whole legion of fans for the vocal group that are unaware of the history surrounding them. Nate Nelson's lead and the other-worldly tenor harmony behind the lead captures the imagination of the listening public and makes the recording a legend in its time. The group is set to appear in the newest Alan Freed film called "Go Johnny Go" which features their old Chess recording partner Chuck Berry in a dramatic role. In July the group does a ten day stint at the Uptown Theater in Philly. Decca keeps at it with another in the can release of "Hey Now" and "Jerri Lee" on # 30948, but it is only on the End releases that the group scores sales. The new "Flamingo Serenade" LP album of the group's versions of American popular standards is readied while another single is released. This time the songs are "Love Walked In" and "Yours" on # 1055. Once again a nice seller for the group and End Records. In November the group tries something new moving away from double sided standards with "I Was Such A Fool" and "Heavenly Angel" on # 1062.

In 1960 The Flamingos were still creating haunting ballads with intricate harmonies that continued to catch the ears of listeners even as the age of the R & B vocal groups was on its last legs. "Mio Amore" was such an example. The song with many interesting chord changes was an immediate favorite (the also interesting tune "You, Me, And The Sea" was on the flip side) for End on # 1065. Subsequently a decision was made by someone for the George Goldner company. Both sides were paired off apart, and the results were "Mio Amore" / "At Night" re-issued on # 1073, and "You, Me, And The Sea" / "Nobody Loves Me Like You" on # 1068, and then again with "You, Me, And The Sea" / "Besame Mucho" on # 1070 all within a few weeks in 1960. While everyone was thoroughly confused End released "When I Fall In Love" (originally by Jerri Southern and done by The Skyliners with Janet Vogel on lead) and "Beside You" on # 1079. The last Flamingos release during the sometimes chaotic year of 1960 was "Your Other Love" and "Lovers Gotta Cry" on # 1081. The 'A' side - "Your Love" had a nice run on the sales charts for the group showing their popularity after a decade on the scene. The year 1961 is generally regarded as the swan song for the vocal groups in the R & B field, and given that fact the Flamingos still stood tall.

After the relatively forgotten second version of "Kokomo" on # 1085 ("That's Why I Love You" on the flip") in 1961, the group scores one last time with a pop standard with "Time Was" on # 1092 with "Dream Girl". A lovely dual lead on "Time" sets off another memorable recorded performance by the group. About this time Tommy Hunt left the group to pursue a solo career and The Flamingos moved on. They recorded a few more singles for End, "Old Man River" parts 1 and 2" for related label Roulette, then returned to Checker for a couple of sides, a few for Philips and Polydor, and then recorded for their own label called Ronze Records. They did have one more charted record which came in 1966 called "The Boogaloo Story" on Philips # 40347. The cousins Carey soldiered on into the nineteen nineties keeping the name of The Flamingos alive in various oldies shows and rock nostalgia forums.

Helping to keep the memories of the Flamingos alive are a number of cds that feature the music of this remarkable group. "The Best Of" from Rhino is a good overview of the entire career of the group with 18 tracks of some of their best known recorded performances. "For Collector's Only" is a two disc box set with 42 tracks from the recorded legacy of the group. Two other label specific cds are "The Complete Chess Masters" for MCA with 20 tracks, and "Best Of The End Years" another 20 track set from Sequel. There are others including remastered cds duplicating original LPs - "Flamingo Favorites", "Flamingo Serenade", and "Rock Rock Rock" with four tunes by the group. As always check for song duplication on different cds. Enjoy again, the wonderful music made by The Flamingos over a remarkable career from the early fifties through the middle sixties and beyond.

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