THE SUPERBS-THE BEST OF THE SUPERBS.

THE SUPERBS-THE BEST OF THE SUPERBS.

Just over fifty years ago, in March 1964, The Superbs released their debut single, The Story Book Of Love. Things were happening quickly for The Superbs. They’d just signed to Lew Bedell’s Dore Records a month earlier, in February 1964. Lew thought that The Superbs had potential. So, he signed them to Dore Records on a one year deal.

For their debut single, The Story Book Of Love was chosen. It was penned by Gordy Harmon Jr, Frances Lark and Art Sibrie. Gene Page was brought in to arrange The Story Book Of Love. With a shrewd choice of single and one Gene Page’s trademark arrangements, The Story Book Of Love was the perfect showcase for The Superbs’ fusion of soul and doo woo. Before long, The Superbs had a hit single on their hands.

Released in March 1964, The Story Book Of Love gave The Superbs a minor hit, when it reached number eighty-three in the US Billboard 100. Although not the most successful debut single, The Story Book Of Love hinted at a successful future for The Superbs. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

Never again would The Superbs enjoy a hit single, even a minor hit single. That’s despite The Superbs releasing singles on Dore over a forty-one year period. During the five spells The Superbs had at Dore, they released over thirty singles. Twenty-one of these singles feature on The Best Of The Superbs, which was released on Kent Soul, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Featuring twenty-four tracks, 

The Best Of The Superbs is the most comprehensive compilation of The Superbs’ music. It features twenty-four tracks. These tracks were released between 1964 and 1987. Essentially, The Best Of The Superbs documents the history of The Superbs. 

1962 was when The Superbs’ story begins. Walter White a native of Long Beach,  California, and Lawrence Lockhard were a member of a quartet called The Superiors. They then recorded for the Nanc label as Lonnie and The Heartbreakers. However, none of their recordings were ever released. After The Heartbreakers, the pair decided to form a new group, a quintet which Walter called The Superbs.

At first, The Superbs concentrated on playing live. This was no bad thing. It allowed The Superbs to hone their style. Not long after this, Walter White met  someone who’d play an important part in The Superbs’ strory, Bobby Swayne. 

Previously, Bobby had enjoyed success with Ray Appleberry as Bob and Ray. Bobby was the vocalist and they enjoyed a minor hit with 1962s Air Travel. Neither of the followup singles, When The Dance Was Over, nor Our Last Night charted. After the failure of Our Last Night, Bob and Ray went their own way, and Ray joined Walter White in The Superbs.

For a while, Bobby and Walter were both members of The Superbs. For a while, everything went well.  Then Bobby decided to form his own band. This resulted in Bobby and Walter parting company. Bobby however, held on to The Superbs name. So when Bobby was offered a contract by Lew Bedell’s Dore label, The Superbs were reborn.

The new lineup of The Superbs featured lead vocalist Eleanor Green, Bobby Swayne, Gordon Harmon and Ronnie Cook. On 25th February 1964, the four members of The Superbs headed to their manager Art Sibrie’s Los Angeles’ home. That’s where The Superbs signed the one year contract Lew Bedell’s Dore label offered them. The terms of the contract meant that The Superbs had to record six singles within a year. These six singles feature on The Best Of The Superbs.

For The Superbs debut single, The Story Book Of Love was chosen. Gordy Harmon Jr, Frances Lark and Art Sibrie cowrote the track. Gene Page arranged The Story Book Of Love and the B-side Better Get Your Own One Buddy. The result was the perfect showcase for The Superbs’ fusion of soul and doo wop. Eleanor Green’s lead vocal was a mixture of drama and emotion, while Bobby Swayne, Gordon Harmon and Ronnie Cook added tight, soulful harmonies. Released in March 1964. The Story Book Of Love in March 1964,  it reached number eighty-three in the US Billboard 100. Although this was only a minor hit, surely, success wasn’t far away for The Superbs.

July 1964 saw The Superbs release their sophomore single Baby, Baby All The Time. The B-side was Sad Sad Sad, which oozes emotion. Baby, Baby All The Time was penned by B.J. Hunter and arranged by Gene Page. The introduction sees The Superbs draw inspiration from Phil Spector’s girl groups. After that, it’s a seamlessly combination of soul and doo wop. Eleanor’s vocal is heartfelt and needy, as it soars above the arrangement. Harmonies accompany her, proving the perfect foil for her heartbroken vocal. Despite the quality of Baby, Baby All The Time, it failed to chart. Lew Bedell must have thought this was just a blip. However, never agin would The Superbs enjoy a hit single.

By the time My Heart Isn’t In It was released later in 1964, Bobby and Ronnie Cook weren’t getting along. They put aside their disagreements to record a track written by Jack Lawrence. Gene Page’s arrangement is slow and string laden. Eleanor delivers a vocal that’s full of sadness and despair. It’s without doubt, one of her best and most soulful vocals. Just like the other Superbs, she’s influenced by doo wop as she lays bare her soul. Still, a hit single eluded The Superbs. 

They tried again in November 1964, when they released The Big Hurt as a single. Penned by Art Sibrie and Bobby Swayne, it was one of The Superbs best singles. Drama, despair and emotion combine as Eleanor delivers a vocal powerhouse that belies her tender years. The arrangement adds to the drama. Driving, braying horns, gongs, percussion and cooing harmonies provide the perfect backdrop for Eleanor. The result is track that should’ve given The Superbs a hit single. On the B-Side was the despairing I Was Blind, which one of The Superbs’ best B-Sides.

1965 began as 1964 had ended, with Baby’s Gone Away failing to chart. It’s another track from the pen of Art Sibrie and Bobby Swayne. Accompanied by the lushest of strings, Eleanor accompanied by the other Superbs deliver a soulful opus full of hurt and heartache.

March 1965 marked the end of The Superbs one year contract with Dore. They released the hopeful, joyous I Was Born When You Kissed Me. Just like the B-Side It Hurts So Much it was written by Art Sibrie and Bobby Swayne. Both were peerless ballads that brought out the best in The Superbs. Despite this, The Superbs weren’t selling many records.  Something had to change. 

It would. Very soon. Goddess Of Love a catchy, dance-floor friendly single was released in July 1965. Again, it didn’t trouble the charts. As a result, it was the last single to feature the original lineup of The Superbs. Following Goddess Of Love, two members of The Superbs left.

Eleanor Green and Bobby Swayne left The Superbs. Their replacements was Lawrence Dickens. He made his Superbs debut on He Broke A Young Girl’s Heart, which he penned with Walter White. On He Broke A Young Girl’s Heart, The Superbs deliver one of their best performances on The Very Best Of The Superbs. They draw inspiration from the Beach Boys as they deliver a heartfelt, dramatic fusion of soul and doo wop. He Broke A Young Girl’s Heart should’ve been a game-changer for The Superbs. Incredibly, the single failed to chart. Nothing more was heard from The Superbs until February 1966.

That’s when The Superbs released It’s A Million Miles To Paradise. Again, chart success eluded The Superbs. Then On A Day When It’s Raining, which was written by Art Sibrie and Bobby Swayne, was released as a single. Listeners heard had a much more dramatic, experimental sound. This was because of the sound effects. Soul and pop were combined by The Superbs as they tried a new approach. It didn’t result in that elusive hit single. So The Superbs tried again on The Wind Is Blowing. It was an uptempo fusion of pop and soul which showcased another side of The Superbs music. Still, success eluded them. However, The Superbs weren’t about to give up. So they released a couple of singles with the dance-floor in mind.

Go For What You Know was released in April 1966. It was written by Ronald Cook and Lawrence Dickens, who took charge of the lead vocal. With a nod to The In Crowd, Go For What You Know was a hook-laden dance-track. Sadly, despite its quality, the single wasn’t a commercial success. Nor was the B.J. Hunter penned I Wanna Do It With You, Baby. Arranged by James Carmichael,  I Wanna Do It With You, Baby was released in January 1967, but the single failed commercially. It did become a favourite amongst Northern Soul fans. By then, The Superbs lineup had changed.

By January 1968, The Superbs released One Bad Habit, their lineup had changed. Originally, The Superbs tried to get Eleanor Green to make a return to the group. She wanted to return. However, her husband wanted the group to be billed as Eleanor Green and The Superbs. That wasn’t going to happen. So The Superbs brought in Claudia Lennear. Along with Lawrence Lockard, Walter White and Bobby Walker the new lineup of The Superbs recorded Richard “Dimples” Fields’ Bad Habit. It’s best described bluesy, wistful and beautiful. This is the last track The Superbs released during the sixties that features on The Very Best Of The Superbs.

Four years later, The Superbs released Your Eyes. Released in 1972, it features a new lineup of The Superbs. This includes Lawrence Lockard, Lawrence Dickens, Ronnie Cook, Bobby Walker and Sandra Petersen. Slow, tender and deeply soulful, an understated arrangement accompanies The Superbs. Hidden away on the B-Side is Wind In My Sails. Written by Lawrence Dickens and Ronnie Cook, it’s a fusion of funk and soul, with a rousing chorus. Bobby Walker takes charge of the lead vocal as we hear another side of The Superbs.

1977 saw The Superbs jump on the disco bandwagon, with Where Or When. Here, The Superbs reinvent a Rogers and Hart song, and give it a dance-floor friendly makeover. The final track from The Superbs on The Very Best Of The Superbs is Where Or When. Released in 1987, twenty-three years after they released their debut single, The Superbs release a deliciously smooth slice of soulful music.

The Very Best Of The Superbs is  a twenty-three year journey through The Superbs’ music. It starts with their 1964 debut single The Story Book Of Love, and closes with 1987s Where Or When. This allows the listener to hear the evolution of The Superbs’ music. In their early days, The Superbs’ music was a fusion of doo wop and soul. This became their trademark sound. Eventually, The Superbs music began to change. Later, their soulful side came to the fore. At one point, The Superbs combined soul and pop. This was only briefly. Then in the early seventies, The Superbs mixed soul and funk. This was an example of The Superbs music changing with the time. As The Very Best Of The Superbs closes, The Superbs it’s with a  deliciously smooth slice of soulful music. What a way to end The Very Best Of The Superbs, which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records.

Without doubt, The Very Best Of The Superbs is the most comprehensive compilation of The Superbs’ music ever released. Rather than just focus on one period of The Superbs’ career, there’s tracks from the sixties, seventies and one from the eighties. There’s even B-Sides, which includes the hidden gem I Was Blind. During these three decades, The Superbs’ lineup changed several times. 

One of The Superbs’ biggest loss was Eleanor Green. Her soprano lead vocal sounded not unlike a male falsetto. She was able to breathe emotion, heartache, hurt, joy and sadness into the songs. Then when Eleanor leaves The Superbs, a variety of other Superbs take charge of the lead vocal. Each of them bring something new to the role. Unlike many bands, there was life for The Superbs after Eleanor Green. Indeed, The Superbs career were still releasing singles until 2005. Their final single was 2005s Little Girl, which meant The Superbs’ recording career spanned forty-one years. Sadly, despite the longevity of their career, The Superbs never replicated the commercial success of their debut single The Story Book Of Love. 

Released in March 1964, The Story Book Of Love gave The Superbs a minor hit, when it reached number eighty-three in the US Billboard 100. Although not the most successful debut single, The Story Book Of Love was as good as it got for The Superbs. Never again would The Superbs enjoy a hit single, even a minor hit single. That’s despite The Superbs releasing over thirty singles on Dore over a forty-one year period. 

During their career at Dore, The Superbs never enjoyed the commercial success and critical acclaim they deserved. That’s a great shame. They were a hugely talented group. Their music was variously soulful, funky and sometimes, dance-floor friendly. Each of these sides of The Superbs’ music features on The Very Best Of The Superbs, which is the perfect introduction to one of soul’s best kept secrets, The Superbs.

THE SUPERBS-THE BEST OF THE SUPERBS.

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