In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Sons of Russian Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine, the Ames Brothers were among the top selling artists of the early 1950s. Their close-harmony style had few equals, producing a chain of Top Ten hits throughout the decade. Born into a large family (five brothers and four sisters in all), the siblings were taught a love for music at an early age. Though they won several amateur singing contests during their youth they didn't turn professional until after they had finished school. All four were good students and athletes and initially chose to pursue careers other than pop stardom. Gene became a painter and a semi-pro baseball player. Vic was an actor and professional boxer. Eddie became a table tennis champ. And Joe won a full engineering scholarship to UCLA. He left after only a year, however, transferring back home to Boston College to study music. His studies eventually earned him a starring role in the Montreal Metropolitan Opera.
Avid sports fans, Eddie, Gene, and Victor, along with their cousin, Lennie, would often hang around the baseball park, where they were sometimes asked to sing. That exposure helped them land their first audition. The group, then known as the Amory Brothers, after Vic's middle name, began playing Army and Navy bases and were offered a job at the Fox's and Hound's nightclub, one of the fanciest spots in Boston. Joe eventually decided to rejoin them and the four brothers moved to New York, where they landed a job with bandleader Art Mooney. Their big break came when, while trying out a new number at Leeds Publishing one day, they were heard by an executive from Decca Records, who asked them record a few sides, which they did.
The recording ban of 1948 sidetracked their career briefly, but when the ban was finally lifted the following year they signed with Coral Records, becoming the first artist to record for that label. Their name was also shortened, to the Ames Brothers. In 1949 they scored a hit, ''Forever and Ever,'' with Russ Morgan's orchestra, and in 1950 they had their first number one, a double-sider, ''Rag Mop/Sentimental Me.'' The brothers went on to chart several more hits during the early part of the decade and ended up with a regular spot on Arthur Godfrey's television show. They also became one of the first acts to appear on Ed Sullivan's original television program, Toast of the Town. In 1956 they landed their own fifteen-minute television program, The Ames Brothers Show. It was the first television show to be shown in syndication. The brothers also worked with such bandleaders as Les Brown, Hugo Winterhalter and Esquivel.
Rock and Roll took its toll on the brother's popularity during the late 1950s. They began to chart less and less. Ed left the group in 1961 to pursue a successful acting and, later, solo singing career. The remaining brothers kept the group going and honored contracts until finally disbanding in 1964. Gene opened his own art gallery in New Jersey. Joe moved to Germany to teach music. And Vic had his own TV talk show in Arkansas for a while, later moving to Nashville to become an agent for country music stars and then vice president in charge of marketing for a tailoring company. He lost his life in January 1978 when his car skidded on ice and hit a light pole.
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Review: The four Massachusetts-born Ames Brothers were the first group to be featured on new Decca subsidiary Coral Records in the late 1940s, scoring their first smash hit with "Sentimental Me"/"Rag Mop" in 1949. This began a succession of major hit records that continued through the 1950s: "Can Anyone Explain?," "Stars Are the Windows of Heaven," "The Hawaiian War Chant," "Auf Wiederseh'n, Sweetheart," "String Along" "My Favorite Song" and "You, You, You." This 2 CD compilation (we love all the great music you get for your money on these remastered collections!), is a blend of recordings issued by Coral and RCA Victor. Disc 1 is their RCA output and includes several best-selling recordings: "The Man with the Banjo," "My Bonnie Lassie," "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane" and "It Only Hurts for a Little While." Disc 2 is special because it features all Coral material, most of which are debuting on CD here. These include "Far Away Places," "Tumbling Tumbleweeds," the spirituals "Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho and "Who Built the Ark?", and all 8 tracks from their 1950 Christmas album, with 14 Christmas songs altogether. All these tunes are band-accompanied, and all feature the Brothers' bright, velvety rich, upbeat leads and harmonies. Great 50s stuff from one of the great vocal quartets!
Review: Vic, Gene and Joe Ames were born and grew up in Boston, and the rich harmonies that made them international celebrities were in evidence as early as grammar school, when they began singing together. They won prizes in virtually every amateur contest they entered; then they were booked at the Fox and Hound in Boston for a week, were held over 3 months-and were on their way to a long career as pop singing stars with a slew of gold records. A compilation of two lps from the early 1960s, "Hello Italy!" is their debut LP for Epic Records, and a cinch for the multilingual Brothers, who could read or converse in 6 languages. Some favorites on "Hello" (all accompanied and in Italian) are "Fontana di Trevi" (Three Coins in the Fountain), "Corrin Corrina" (Corrine, Corrina), "Volare" (Nel Blu DiPinto Di Blu), "Luna Milinconica" (Blue Moon), "Ritorna A Me" (Return to Me), "Nastri Rossi" (Scarlet Ribbons) and "Arrividerci Roma." "Knees Up!" is not a typo, but the title of one of the songs on this collection of wonderful fun and nonsense from the talented Brothers. Some favorites here are "I'm Walking the Floor Over You," "I'll Lend You Everything I've Got Except My Wife," "If I Had My Life To Live Over I'd Live Over A Grocery Store," "Take Your Finger Out of Your Mouth I Want A Kiss From You," "When It's Night Time In Italy It's Wednesday Over Here," and the touching ballad, "Where Can I Find A Bookie." 24 popular vintage hits from the celebrated Ames Brothers, whose smooth, rich harmonies fill this generous CD. By the way, Mother Brown had just turned 100, and "Knees Up" refers to dancing, but you knew that!
Review: The four tall (all six-footers), healthy-looking young singing brothers were a standout quartet even back in their grammar school days, but hit their stride, and the charts in the late 40s and through the 50s. This CD combines 2 lps in one bargain-priced CD, effectively giving us twice as much great music for our money. The first, a 1956 lp with Hugo Winterhalter and His Orchestra, features 12 (accompanied) hits, like "It Must Be True," "Ol' Man River," "That's The Way Love Goes," "Gotta Be This Or That," "Anniversary Song," "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and "Not You, Not I." The 1958 space-race inspired "Destination Moon," with Sid Ramin and His Orchestra, features another 12 (accompanied) winners, the title tune, "Moonglow," "East of The Sun," "No Moon At All," "Music From Out of Space," "Stella By Starlight," "It's Only A Paper Moon," "Beyond The Blue Horizon" and others. Powerful harmonies, great solos, memorable hooks in every tune-this CD is a truckload of big-fun 50s pop!
Review: Growing up in a family of Russian Jews from the Ukraine named Urick who settled in Massachusetts, the athletic Ames Brothers first landed a gig in NYC in the mid-40s with up and coming bandleader Art Mooney. Over their 15-year career the prolific Brothers notched up 50 U.S. Chart entries, 21 of them on the Coral label before signing with RCA Victor. Two generous CDs here, with 25 songs on each; most of the big hits on CD #1. Comfortable in many genres, they scored hits with top-40 pop like "Sentimental Me" and "Rag Mop," the country songs "Wagon Wheels" and "The Last Roundup," the religious-styled "Lovely Lady Dressed In Blue," the spiritual "Shadrack," the Hawaiian songs, Moon Of Manakoora" and "Hawaiian War Chant," the popular ballad "To Think You've Chosen Me, and novelty numbers such as "The Thing." There are of course standards such as "Stardust" and polkas like "Hoop Dee Doo." All are band accompanied, particularly nice are those recorded with Les Brown and his Band of Renown, "Undecided," "Sentimental Journey" and the wonderful "No Moon At All." There's too much good, entertaining stuff here to review, but the Brothers' trademark rich, smooth harmonies are consistently delightful throughout.
You, You, You
Review: Four brothers named Urick - foreign-sounding names were frequently changed back then - began singing as kids and in their Boston neighborhood. It was at Franklin Field, a semi-pro baseball park, where they played their first gigs. Much dues-paying later, they were signed to Coral Records in 1948, and their first number one was "Sentimental Me." The Ames Bros. produced a clutch of hits throughout the 1950's: "You, You, You," "The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane," and many others. These are four young men you could bring home to mother - their romantic lyrics, sweetly orchestrated arrangements, and cheerful delivery epitomize the wholesome American optimism of this decade.