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The Complete Blue Cat Recordings

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

On the heels of Real Gone's well-received Red Bird Girls: Very First Time in True Stereo 1964-1966 comes another incredible find for doo wop and girl group fans: the first-ever legitimate album devoted to the classic Blue Cat recordings by the legendary vocal group The Ad-Libs, featuring 23 tracks taken by producers Ron Furmanek and Ash Wells straight from the original master session tapes (again, another first) including five unreleased songs and nine unreleased alternate versions! And among those unreleased alternate versions are a full three newly-discovered versions of their big hit The Boy from New York City, highlighted by an a cappella demo version that must be heard! Most tracks make their true stereo debut, while the 12-page booklet boasts great liner notes by James Moniz offering insights from original Ad-Lib Norman Donegan, plus a foreword from Manhattan Transfer member Tim Hauser (not only did Manhattan Transfer have a hit with The Boy from New York City, but the Ad-Libs' jazzy mixture of male and female voices was a big influence on them). The Ad-Libs' complete (and then some) Blue Cat Recordings!
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 1, 2012)
  • Original Release Date: May 1, 2012
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Real Gone Music
  • Run Time: 57 minutes
  • ASIN: B007HRXJLQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,625 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Steve Ramm TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 7, 2012
Format: Audio CD
A few months ago I got - and reviewed here on Amazon - a fabulous reissue compilation titled "The Red Bird Girls" on the newly formed Real Gone label. It was loaded with some rare tracks from this New York-based 1960s label (and its sister label Blue Cat) and contained not only nearly 20 minutes of studio chatter, but a great little booklet of well-researched liner notes and rare photos.

One of the groups on Blue Cat was a quintet (four guys and a gal) named The Ad Libs. from Northern New Jersey. You're definitely familiar with this mega hit singer "The Boy From New York City" which went on to be a hit again when The Manhattan Transfer released it later - based on the Ad Libs version. (As you'll learn - as I did - from the liner notes, that also cover the group's post-Blue Cat recordings that are not on this disc, The BFNYC session included the legendary Bernard Purdie on drums and "Phillt Sound" creator Leon Huff on piano.)

None of the other Ad libs sides made the top of the charts but they still had amazing sounds. So the folks at Real Gone released this CD which is as high in quality as the Red Bird album but - for reasons I'll mention in a moment - not as much fun to listen to often.

There are 23 songs on this 79-minute CD, only nine of where were released. The balance consists of previously unreleased demos or alternate versions. The "hit" - TBFNYC - appears here FOUR times and, while there's a great stripped-down a cappella version included, the song does get repetitious when playing the album all the way through.

Like the Red Bird CD, there are bonus tracks of studio chat that run nearly 22 minutes. After the first pas, you'll probably hit the stop button after track 23. But it's great that this material is seeing the light of day.
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This album is the first that I've heard from the Real Gone label that actually lives up to its stated raison d'être and has packaging that is not an eye sore. Beautiful remastering of the original hits and official Blue Cat releases by Ron Furmanek with an abundance of unreleased material although some of it like the Boy from NYC without the lead vocal is a bit too complete. "Oo-wee Oh Me Oh My" is a great lost track - this and the Boy from NYC are worth the price of the CD. If you are going to be described as a one hit wonder - these two tracks are worth being rember for.
In the spirit of Ron's extensive work on the 1990s EMI Legendary Masters series, there are session chats - although in this instance - they are far more lengthy than the brief 20 secs included intermittently on the various Bobby Vee, Crickets, Ricky Nelson compilations and the sound is several generations better. Fascinating listening to the tapes rolling as the various recordings were being set up - although once through is probably enough.
As Real Gone appears to have established a relationship with Sun Entertainment to access the Red Bird/Blue Cat catalog, a boxed set - mastered by Ron Furmanek - of that label would be a welcome replacement for the Charly 4 CD set with its limited dynamic mastering.
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Format: Audio CD
Blue Cat was a subsidiary of the Red Bird label started in 1964 by legendary Brill Building songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. The parent label cashed in on the girl group craze with the Dixie Cups and Shangri-Las, but Blue Cat also cracked the Top 10 with the label's second single, "The Boy from New York City." Written by saxophonist John T. Taylor, the song had a jazzy swing that gave the then-recently rechristened Ad Libs a distinct sound. The New Jersey quintet featured Mary Ann Thomas singing lead and a smooth male quartet providing backing vocals. A second single, "He Ain't No Angel," was penned by Red Bird's house team of Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich (and previously waxed by the Lovejoys for Tiger), but label turmoil stalled the single on the bottom rungs of the Top 100. Two more singles, "On the Corner" and "I'm Just a Down Home Girl," fared even worse and led to the group's departure from Blue Cat.

Judging solely by the charts, the Ad Libs were a four-single, one-hit wonder; but as this twenty-three track collection shows, there was a lot more to their catalog than found broad public acclaim. In addition to the group's four A's and B's, Real Gone's gathered a clutch of unreleased tracks, alternate versions and a cappella demos that give full testimony to the group's vocal talent and their production team's ability to craft memorable melodic and instrumental hooks. The B-sides are anything but throwaways, with "Kicked Around" sporting an incredible jazz bass line, sly organ bed and maddeningly memorable triangle figure behind Thomas' thirsty flower vocal.
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Format: Audio CD
At this writing there appear to be two quality CD choices covering the music of the Bayonne, New Jersey vocal group The Ad Libs who registered 3 times on the national singles lists, twice in 1965 for Blue Cat Records and once in 1969 for Share Records - this 2012 23-track volume from Real Gone Music covering their Blue Cat recordings including the two hits there and their B-sides, and a 29-side 2010 volume from Passion Records titled “I Don’t Need No Fortune Teller.” Both are equally good in terms of sound reproduction - taken from the best vinyl sources available, but if you are a completist hits collector you will want the Passion Records volume since it not only includes the 2 Blue Cat hits but the one at Share as well along with the B-side.

They began in the early 1960s as the all-male quintet The Arabians (Hugh Harris, Danny Austin, John Alan, David Allen Watt, Jr. and James Wright) before changing to The Creators in 1962 when they cut 2 sides for the tiny Brooklyn-based T-Kay Records, followed by two singles later that year for the much-larger Philips Records. It was also in this period that Watts was drafted, his replacement being bass Chris Coles. Two year later, with Watts back from service and Norman Donegan also added, they came across Mary Ann Thomas, then singing with another gathering, and brought her in as their new lead, at the same time changing their name once more, this time to The Ad Libs. The new sound then led to a new contract, this time with the Red Bird subsidiary Blue Cat, owned by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner, producing their first hit single, The Boy From New York City, which hit # 6 R&B/# 8 Billboard Pop Hot 100 in Jan-Feb 1965 b/w Kicked Around as Blue Cat 102.
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