CD Checkmate: Complete King Records 1952-1955 (CD 113134),
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Checkmate: Complete King Records 1952-1955

  • 1. You Never Had It So Good
    2. Oh, Oh, Oh Baby
    3. Flame in My Heart
    4. Without a Song
    5. My Prayer Tonight
    6. Don't Stop Dan
    7. House With No Windows
    8. Let Me Come Back
    9. Night's Curtain
    10. I Wanna Know
    11. Over the Rainbow
    12. Love Wasn't There
    13. You've Been Fooling Around
    14. Ghost of My Baby
    15. White Cliffs of Dover
    16. Friend in Need - (previously unreleased, Take 6)
    17. Mama's Daughter
    18. I Promise You
    19. Can't Find My Sadie
    20. Trying to Hold My Gal
    21. I Wasn't Thinking, I Was Drinking
    22. House With No Windows - (previously unreleased, Take 1)
    23. Don't Stop Dan - (previously unreleased, Take 1)
    24. You've Been Fooling Around - (previously unreleased, Take 1)
    25. Friend in Need - (previously unreleased, Take 5)
    26. You Never Had It So Good - (previously unreleased, Take 1)
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 1047

  • Credits

    The Checkers: Bill Brown, Little David Baughn, Charlie White.
    Here's another "just what the title says it is" compilation from the fine archivists at the Ace label, presenting all 26 of this obscure R&B vocal group's recordings. In addition to both sides of all ten of their King singles, it has four previously unissued alternate takes, as well as two takes of the previously unreleased "Friend in Need." A minor-league Dominoes and early Drifters vibe permeates the proceedings, as befits an act that included some members of those groups. Still, minor league doesn't always mean useless, and these are accomplished early- to mid-'50s doo wop sides that usually exhibit an admirable sense of spirited fun, even if there's a lack of songs that really deserved to be hits. That was the case despite several contributions from important R&B/early rock & roll producer Henry Glover and a few tunes co-written by Lowman Pauling of the "5" Royales. Maybe the ebullient "You Never Had It So Good," the best cut here (with a fine lead bass vocal from Bill Brown), could have been a breakthrough. But it, like some other tracks here, might have been a little too close in style to the Dominoes to stand out -- in fact, "Don't Stop Dan" is sort of a follow-up to the Dominoes' classic "Sixty Minute Man," and not a bad one, though it can't help but stand in the shadow of the original. Like many other, similar groups of the time, the Checkers were also adept at mixing roughly equal portions of jump-paced R&B with smoochy ballads. The uptempo jives are the better outings, though, and their brisk take on "White Cliffs of Dover" rates as one of the finer unknown R&B vocal arrangements of a pop standard. ~ Richie Unterberger

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