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THE FOUR FRESHMEN
It's a Blue World
Retrospective RTR 4219
 
1. It's a Blue World
2. Tuxedo Junction
3. Poinciana
4. It Happened Once Before
5. Crazy Bones
6. Mood Indigo
7. We'll Be Together Again
8. Street of Dreams
9. Day by Day
10. Angel Eyes
11. Love is Just Around the Corner
12. Speak Low
13. Somebody Loves Me
14. You Stepped Out of a Dream
15. Guilty
16. Charmaine
17. Graduation Day
18. Easy Street
19. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
20. After You've Gone
21. There Will Never Be Another You
22. Give Me the Simple Life
23. The Very Thought of You
24. Liza
25. It Could Happen to You
26. Nancy With the Laughing Face
27. Candy
28. Get Your Kicks On Route 66!
29. Their Hearts Were Full of Spring
30. Goodnight, Sweetheart
 
Bob Flanigan - Lead tenor, trombone, double bass
Don Barbour - Second tenor, guitar
Ross Barbour - Baritone, drums, piano
Hal Kratzsch - Bass, trumpet, double bass (tracks 1-3)
Ken Errair - Bass, trumpet, double bass (tracks 4-16)
Ken Albers - Bass, trumpet, double bass (tracks 17-30)
 
 
Barbershop singing originated in the United States in the days when barbershops were a familiar meeting place for men. Barbershop singing arose as an unaccompanied, four-part, close-harmony style, and eventually moved from barbershops to places of entertainment. The tradition led to the formation of many singing groups attached to dance bands in the 1930s and 1940s. These included the Inkspots, the Modernaires, the Boswell Sisters, the Pied Pipers and the Mel-Tones. Later vocal groups that came to fame included the Swingle Singers, Manhattan Transfer and New York Voices.
 
At Butler University in Indiana in the late 1940s, two brothers - Don and Ross Barbour - formed a similar quartet called Hal's Harmonizers, which later became the Four Freshmen. They were unusual in that, besides singing in close harmony, each member of the group played one or more musical instruments, thus providing their own accompaniment. This CD surveys the Four Freshmen's recorded career from 1951 to 1960. The album's title comes from their first hit record - It's a Blue World - from 1952.
 
This album is subtitled "Their 30 Finest, 1951-1960" and, indeed, they were most successful in the 1950s. Their fame gradually diminished in the 1960s, although their albums continued to sell well. The Four Freshmen have survived numerous personnel changes, but they are still best remembered for their sound in the fifties.
 
Their style was essentially jazz but they didn't improvise a great deal. Nor did they often feature one singer, as some other vocal groups did. Their main appeal lay in their harmonies, and the jazz element was often augmented by accompaniment from instrumental groups led by such musicians as Pete Rugolo and Dick Reynolds. This album supplies a good representation of their abilities. They may not have been entirely original but they were one of the best acappella groups, and their harmonies had an influence on such groups as the Beach Boys, as you can hear on this CD in tracks like Charmaine.
 
Tony Augarde
www.augardebooks.co.uk

 

Another review of the same disc by Brian Wilson

 


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