The Flamingos had been recording since 1953, cutting records for Chance, Parrot, Checker and Decca with varying degrees of success, usually concentrating on original material. But when the Chicago-based vocal group signed for George Goldner's End label in 1958, Goldner suggested a switch to standards, a ploy that paid off. I Only Have Eyes For You had been around forever-- dance bandleader Ben Selvin notched a hit with it during 1934. The Flamingos, however, completely re-shaped the oldie, their opening guitar chord followed by piano triplets and that haunting, echo-filled " shoo-bop-she-bop" phrase spooked up the Al Dubin and Harry Warren classic and created what many consider as greatest of all doo wop releases. Art Garfunkel's shameless identikit arrangement in 1975 topped the UK charts, while The Flamingos' version, featuring the lead of Nate Nelson and the flowing falsetto of Terry Johnson, has been heard over 50 soundtracks, memorably in Robert De Niro's A Bronx Tale.
Availability: The End Story Westside CD
65. KETTY LESTER: Love Letters/ I'm A Fool To Want You (1962)
The song was hardly new. Dick Haymes had charted with a ballad rendition of the Edward Heyman and Victor Young song in 1945. As far as Arkansas' Ketty Lester was concerned, it wassn't even going to be an A-side, merely the reverse of a song called I'm A Fool To Want You. But it was Love Letters, all decked out in a gospel-piano setting, that got the airplay and kickstarted a singing career that somehow merged into one that was slightly more thespian; Ketty eventually becoming a regular on the TV series, Little House On The Prairie.
Availability: Love Letters Collectables CD