Come Back My Love : The Wrens©2007JCMariion

The Wrens are a classic vocal group from the early nineteen fifties that almost always seem to be forgotten when the discussion of the influences of the music that followed. They are one of the least remembered of the "bird" groups but remain an important part of the story. I was reminded of this some time ago when viewing a TV documentary on the enduring popularity and remaining fanaticism by followers of the vocal group sound. Along with interviews and a story on Tony I's Clifton Music in New Jersey, was footage at a UGHA event that featured members of the original Wrens. Some forty years later people still remember.

The Wrens had their beginning around 1950 in that hotbed of The Bronx, the Morrisania section of the borough. Two years later the group began to take shape with Bobby Mansfield, Frenchy Concepcion, George Magnezig, and James Archer. As they worked on improving their musicianship and stage presence, they got some local appearances such as the Hunt's Point Palace in the Bronx. Soon the group acquired a manager in Fred Johnson and he put them in touch with George Goldner of Rama Records. In November of 1954 the group entered the recording studio for the label. Within a week Rama released # 157 - "Love's Something That's Made For Two" and "Begging For Love" by The Wrens. Through the end of the year nothing much happened with the record which got little airplay or sales.

By February of 1955 Rama released the two other songs recorded by the group on their November studio session. Rama #65 featured "Come Back My Love" and "Eleven Roses". The group's manager Fred Johnson was the arranger for the tunes. By April "Come Back My Love" is doing well in New York and is getting decent airplay in Philadelphia. It gets enough attention that it is covered by The Cardinals on the Atlantic area. Even so the group got little support from their label, as Rama re-released "Love's Something That's Made For Two" and "Eleven Roses" on #110. Before the next recording session by The Wrens, James Archer left the group for military service and his place was taken by Joe Washington. In late November "Hey Girl" and "Serenade Of The Bells" (a pop hit for Sammy Kaye) was released on Rama # 174. "Hey Girl" was also released with "Love's Something That's made For Two" (again !) also on # 174. At year's end The Wrens appeared with Alan Freed at the New York Academy Of Music for the big holiday show headlined by Count Basie with Joe Williams, The Cadillacs, Valentines, Heatbeats, and others.

In January of 1956 Rama released "I Won't Come To Your Wedding" and "What Makes You Do The Things You Do" on # 184. Almost immediately, Rama was back with The Wrens version of "C'est La Vie" (a hit for Sarah Vaughn) on # 194, with an instrumental version of the song by the Jimmy Wright Combo on the flip side. The interesting thing about the recording under the Wrens name is that The Valentines backed up Bobby Mansfield and George Magnezig on the session. By that time however, the failure of the group to make it big caused them to call it quits. They could never get the backing they needed to push their records, and the chaotic releasing schedule by Rama was another hindrance. Bobby Mansfield continued to try his hand at recording as a solo artist without much success.

As always there are the memories, and The Wrens provided some wonderful moments with their music all those years ago. One or two of their tunes can be found on a number of compilation cds.

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