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The Best Of The Platters


The Platters
The Best Of The Platters - The Millennium Collection

314 546 414-2


1. The Great Pretender (2:39)
(Buck Ram)
Originally recorded and released 1955

2. Twilight Time (2:44)
(Al Nevins / Morty Nevins / Buck Ram)
Originally recorded and released 1958

3. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (2:38)
(Otto Harbach / Jerome Kern)
Originally recorded and released 1958

4. Only You (And You Alone) (2:37)
(Buck Ram / Ande Rand)
Originally recorded and released 1955

5. My Prayer (2:45)
(Georges Boulanger / Jimmy Kennedy)
Originally recorded and released 1956

6. (You’ve Got) The Magic Touch (2:28)
(Buck Ram)
Originally recorded and released 1956

7. You’ll Never, Never Know (2:38)
(Tony Williams / Paul Robi)
Originally recorded and released 1956

8. I’ll Never Smile Again (2:52)
(Ruth Lowe)
Originally recorded 1958, released 1959 (LP) and 1961 (45)

9. Harbor Lights (3:10)
(Jimmy Kennedy / Hugh Williams)
Originally recorded and released 1959

10. Red Sails In The Sunset (2:21)
(Jimmy Kennedy / Hugh Williams)
Originally recorded and released 1960

11. Enchanted (2:52)
(Buck Ram)
Originally recorded 1958 & 1959, released 1959

All songs previously released on Mercury Records.

All songs Produced by Buck Ram
Compilation Produced by Harry Weinger

Digitally remastered by Suha Gur, Universal Music Group Studios East
Production Coordination by Margaret Goldfarb

Art Direction: Vartan
Design: Mike Fink @ilevel
Photographs Courtesy of Mercury Records Archives & Michael Ochs Archives


In the Fifties a black group from the wrong end of Los Angeles took stylish echoes of the great “Negro” groups of the Thirties and Forties, mixed them with some straight-up Tin Pan Alley tunes and opened up a brand new world for the kids who would be rock and roll’s first generation.

In the beginning there was just a foursome, with bass singer Herbert Reed, Joe Jefferson, Cornell Gunther and Alex Hodge. Hanging in the hood, the guys were just having fun singing like half the other teenagers in Watts. Reed got the idea for the group’s name from a local DJ referring to records as “Platters.” They entered amateur shows and usually won. It was at one of those outings that Ralph Bass from Federal Records saw them, and signed them. The lineup eventually took shape with Reed, David Lynch and the angel-voiced Tony Williams. Later, Paul Robi replaced Hodge, and 14-year-old Zola Taylor added the feminine touch.

Tony Williams’ emotion-drenched voice made prayers and all the longings of lovers so believable. He had the extraordinary ability to leap through octaves and find notes that pierced doubt and intensified every emotion. With its precision and clarity. Williams’ delivery is reminiscent of the Mills Brothers – every word is clear and full. While he has never received credit for it, Williams is owed a debt by generations of doo-woppers for the gaspy-catch he put into his delivery.

Manager Buck Ram got the group signed to Mercury Records, an emerging pop and R&B label, in 1955. Like other elegant groups who preceded The Platters, Tony Williams’ voice was more pop than the blues then associated with rhythm groups. Although the label first marketed the group on its purple ‘race’ label. Mercury was soon convinced this was a group that appealed to the pop market. Their first single, “Only You (And You Alone),” a remake of one of their first recordings, was a worldwide smash.

The kids who heard “Only You” and the number one record that followed, “The Great Pretender,” wanted to see who was singing these hits. Imagine the surprise of white teenagers who had just discovered Elvis and Bill Haley when they saw the suave, smooth young black quintet. And little did those kids know that would be digging a sound that spanned the generations. Some of The Platters’ most successful songs were associated with earlier generations – from “My Prayer,” that had been a hit for The Inkspots in 1939, to the Tin Pan Alley fave from that same decade, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.”

The group benefited from the early rock film craze. They appeared in dozens of movies, including “Rock Around The Clock”; the Jayne Mansfield romp “The Girl Can’t Help It”; and “Girls Town” with Paul Anka.

The list of Platter hits includes almost 40 Top Five records – many of them hit the coveted Number One spot – and 16 gold albums. The group recorded nearly 400 songs, sold approximately 80 million records, performed in over 91 countries, and received over 230 awards from all over the world.

While setting the standard for both black and white groups to follow, The Platters also set some other standards: They were the first black group to ever have a Number One Pop Record, the first group in the rock era to record with strings, and the first group to cross racial barriers on the concert circuit. They did it in a remarkably short time. All of the songs on this collection were recorded in the four years between 1955 and 1959.

The original Platters were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. It was fitting, and overdue. After all, they had long been in the hearts of all the teenagers who believed the world really is “Enchanted” when you are in love, and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” when love goes wrong.

- Ruth Adkins Robinson


© 1999 Mercury Records, a division of PolyGram Records, Inc.
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