UNCOMMON LABELS - PART THREE
"Life Of Ease"/"It Won't Be Very Long"
by The Imperials
on Great Lakes 1201
released in 1954
"Life Of Ease"/"It Won't Be Very Long"
Above: Photo of The Imperials from 1954, consisting of Robert Adams (baritone), Ben Knight (bass), Lee Goodwin (tenor), and Milton Harris (lead tenor).
Click HERE for an article about The Imperials by Marv Goldberg.
(Will open in a separate window)
[The articles, left and above, courtesy of Galen Gart.]
These are from December 1953 and November 1954.
(Tony Vance 1954)
GREAT LAKES LABEL, Detroit, Michigan:
President - Kenneth C. Campbell
A&R Men - Tony Vance, Sax Kari (Vance was also The Imperials' manager)
Promotion Manager - Ray Gahan
Great Lakes had six known releases, starting in January 1954 and ending by the summer of 1954. There are also five missing numbers in their numbering sequence that probably were not issued. The Imperials were featured on both the first and last releases, the label notation on the last changing from "Quartet Series" to "R&B Series."
Known releases on the label were by The Imperials, Don Sabastion, Della Reese, and Sax Kari Orchestra.
From The Billboard 1/9/54: Tony Vance, who has been prominent in the juke box business as an operator for about 20 years, has gone into the recording business, becoming artist and repertory chief of the new Great Lakes Recording Company.
From The Billboard 2/6/54: ....Tony Vance, operating the National Coin Machine Company, is devoting most of his time currently to the development of his new Great Lakes Record label.
From Trade Magazine, March 1954: ....Great Lakes Record Company of Detroit has signed new artist contracts with Kathy Lewis, blonde vocal stylist, currently recovering from an automobile accident; the Three Chuckles, vocal trio from New York, currently appearing at the Prince George Hotel, Toronto; and Bob White, blues singer, who did well last season with "My Kinda Woman"....
From Trade Magazine, July 1954: ....Another new independent label is being started in Detroit. The owner of the new Boulevard Records is Ray Gahan, former production man for the independent Great Lakes Record Company. First pressings, to be released next week, are "Run Around" and "At Last You Understand," both original tunes, the latter written by guitar player Tom Romano of the Three Chuckles, a string combo which has recorded the numbers....
From Trade Magazine, September 1954: ....Claim to being the youngest owner of a commercial music label in the country is being entered on behalf of Ray Gahan, 22, who formed the Boulevard Record Company, Detroit, after being with Decca, Columbia and Great Lakes labels in the past sixteen months. Boulevard's first release is "Run Around" backed by "At Last You Understand," both by the Three Chuckles....
Above: Label image of Great Lakes 1201 recorded circa October 1953 and released in January 1954. This was The Imperials' first of their two releases, both on Great Lakes in 1954. A third came close to release (per Marv Goldberg's article, the labels had been made), but didn't make it out the door. Milton Harris sings lead, and is co-composer, on both sides. These same sides were reissued on the Boulevard label in November 1954 with the group renamed The Four Arcs (see below).
The Billboard Review (1/23/54):THE IMPERIALS — GREAT LAKES 1201
Life Of Ease (65) A good new group, with an excellent lead, bucking routine material and weak backing here. Harmony and rhythm-wise the group has plenty on the ball, and deserve watching in future.
It Won't Be Very Long (60) The quartet again expends talent and energy in vain on weak material.
(NOTE: Ratings had a range of 0-100 with 60-69 as "satisfactory.")
Above: Label images of Boulevard 102 released in November 1954 as by The Four Arcs. These are the same sides previously issued on Great Lakes by The Imperials. Notice that composer credits are not shown.
Listen to this week's selections by The Imperials on Great Lakes 1201 from 1954:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
[To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]
A. Stream RealAudio...
1. Life Of Ease
2. It Won't Be Very Long
BOTH played in sequence
This site is non-commercial. All information displayed is provided to further the general public's knowledge of RnB vocal group harmony.