THE VIBRATIONS: ‘The Vibrating Vibrations’ (Label: Kent)

  • Home
  • Reviews
  • THE VIBRATIONS: ‘The Vibrating Vibrations’ (Label: Kent)
THE VIBRATIONS: 'The Vibrating Vibrations'

Hailing from Los Angeles, the vocal quintet The Vibrations began life as The Jayhawks in the 1950s and experienced a Top 20 US hit with ‘Stranded In The Jungle’ in 1956. The next time the group was on the American charts was five years later, in 1961, when they released ‘The Watusi,’ a dance craze record, for the Chess subsidiary Checker – by that time, though, they’d moved to Chicago, morphed into The Vibrations and their line up consisted of James Johnson, Carlton Fisher, Richard Owens (who briefly joined The Temptations in 1971), Dave Govan and Don Bradley. Just to add to the confusion, the same year the group also scored a significant hit (‘Peanut Butter’) under the name The Marathons for the Arvee label (the record later came out on Checker credited to The Vibrations). There’s nothing confusing, though, about this excellent compendium from Kent’s dependable compiler, Tony Rounce, which showcases the cream of the 45s The Vibrations recorded after they left Chicago and Checker for new pastures in Philadelphia, where they joined the roster at the Okeh and Epic labels. Spanning the years 1963-1968, this mighty 26-track collection unsurprisingly kicks off with the group’s Northern Soul monster, ”Cause You’re Mine,’ an early example of the songwriting and production genius of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff – interestingly, instead of the original mono version from 1963, Kent have opted for a less familiar unedited stereo mix first issued in 2000. There’s also a little-known stereo mix of the superb ‘Pick Me’ – an R&B Top 40 hit in 1967 – but what will really attract collectors is the inclusion of five previously unissued cuts recently discovered languishing in the vaults. Arguably, the pick of these is the infectious ‘The Searching Is Over,’ and the jaunty, pop-slanted ‘Follow Your Heart,’ both unreleased Okeh sides. Other highlights include the propulsive Northern stomper, ‘Gonna Get Along Without You Now,’ ‘I Took An Overdose,’ the ballad ‘If You Only Knew’ – a Carl Davis-helmed cut that unashamedly plagiarises the melodic hook from Little Anthony & The Imperials’ ‘Goin’ Out Of My Head’ – and ‘Keep On Keeping On,’ another furious dancer cherished by the Northern Soul fraternity. Informative liner notes and a memorabilia-packed booklet complete what is another essential purchase for collectors of vintage ’60s soul.
(CW) 4/5