Friday, June 05, 2009

Number 387 - Platters


Number 387

Platters

"Great Pretender"

(1955)
.
.
................Genre: Doo Wop...............
Need more balloons !
Thinking about the title of this site, we should have called it "The Definitive ROCK Songs off All Time: 1955 to 2005" Rock & Roll was the father of Rock, in saying that I am meaning Rock [& Roll] was invented on July 9th, 1955 with the release of Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" [which in reality was recorded April 12th, 1954, but this would cause a paradox, either that, or I am to lazy to change the name of this site]. The Platters are R&B or Tin Pan or Doo Wop and this genre has been around longer than Rock n Roll so it must be kind of a moot point to only include songs after 1955. In some way, I agree with those people, I would love to have Nat King Cole's 1951 "Unforgettable" here in the countdown ... another paradox, sort of like Rollings Stone magazine's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" which has no songs from pre-1955 [don't quote me on this] either. So i guess we are both guilty of ignoring the fact, we both are saying [although not directly] there was no decent music for the first 54 years of the Twentieth Century. I better say sorry now.
many decades ago ...
The Platters started out as a Los Angeles-based doo wop group with little identity of their own to make them stand out from the pack. They made their first records for Federal, a subsidiary of Cincinnati's King Records. These early sides don't sound anything like the better-known sides that would eventually emerge from this group, instead merely aping the current R&B trends and styles of the day. What changed their fortunes can be reduced down to one very important name: their mentor, manager, producer, songwriter, and vocal coach, Buck Ram. Ram took what many would say were a run-of-the-mill R&B doo wop vocal group and turned them into stars and one of the most enduring and lucrative groups of all time. By 1954, Ram was already running a talent agency in Los Angeles, writing and arranging for publisher Mills Music, managing the Three Suns -- a pop group with some success -- and working with his protégés, the Penguins. The Platters seemed like a good addition to his stable.
and yes, we can rock
After getting them out of their Federal contract, Ram placed them with the burgeoning national independent label Mercury Records (at the same time he brought over the Penguins following their success with "Earth Angel"), automatically getting them into pop markets through the label's distribution contacts alone. Then Ram started honing in on the group's strengths and weaknesses. The first thing he did was put the lead vocal status squarely on the shoulders of lead tenor Tony Williams. Williams' emoting power was turned up full blast with the group (now augmented with Zola Taylor from Shirley Gunter & the Queens) working as very well-structured vocal support framing his every note. With Ram's pop songwriting classics as their musical palette, the group quickly became a pop and R&B success, eventually earning the distinction of being the first black act of the era to top the pop charts. Considered the most romantic of all the doo wop groups (that is, the ultimate in "make out music"), hit after hit came tumbling forth in a seemingly effortless manner: "Only You," "The Great Pretender," "My Prayer," "Twilight Time," "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Harbor Lights," all of them establishing the Platters as the classiest of all.
Williams struck out on his own in 1961 and, by the decade's end, the group had disbanded with various members starting up their own version of the Platters. This bit of franchising now extends into the present day, with an estimated 125 sanctioned versions of "the original Platters" out on the oldies show circuit. ~ [Cub Koda, All Music Guide]
For more songs from 1955 see Number 441, #933, #961
What does RS think of the Platters?
Nothing, but in all fairness it was before their time. [I must be getting old or soft or worse, both] but their offshoot rhapsody.com does have something. After producer and songwriter Buck Ram got a hold of a group, he performed a certain magic. It worked with the Penguins and it worked with the Platters. Ram transformed the Platters from a run-of-the-mill Doo-Wop group to one of the best-known and most-loved Oldies groups around. Aside from recording some of the most classic, spine-tingling makeout music ever, the Platters earned the distinction of being the first black group to have a No. 1 hit on the (usually all-white) pop charts. Many disc jockeys, club owners, and listeners thought the Platters were white, as the group provided the soundtrack for generations of awkward teens' first sweaty-palmed, clumsy slow dance. Although "Great Pretender" and "Only You" are the most instantly recognizable Platters hits, the velvet throat of Tony Williams led the Platters to a number of Top-40 hits through the early part of the '60s. ~ [Source: Rhapsody.com - Mark Murrmann]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '387th Song of all Time' was "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. Elton John has appeared in The Definitive 1000 of All Time @ #531.
Other songs with reference to Platters #410, #536, #623, #839
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number 351 and the Album ranked at Number (Seafood Platter anyone?)
This song has a total Definitive rating of 79.3 out of 108
The Platters The Great pretender

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