June 24th, 2009
Artists: Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
Label: Bear Family
Catalog No.: BCD 16545 AR
Release date: May 19, 2009
“Here you will find a glimpse of the magic of a cheerful and grinning 13-year-old Frankie Lymon and his teenage friends making music that excited millions of fans all over the world.”-Peter Grendysa.
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers were the Jackson 5 of the ‘50s, an adolescent group led by an amazingly talented and extremely young artist. Lymon started performing at an early age with his father and brothers in New York. At the age of 12 he left the family fold to form The Premiers with neighborhood boys and achieved success on the local talent show circuit, leading to an audition for George Goldner’s Rama/Gee Records. They were quickly signed to the label, changed their name to Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers, and scored a major hit right out of the box with “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” released in 1956.
Their popularity soared over the next eighteen months, leading to television appearances, European tours, and a spot in the Alan Freed movies Rock, Rock, Rock (1956) and Mr. Rock and Roll (1957). Marketed exclusively to a teenage audience, they exerted a major influence in shaping the course of rock ‘n’ roll and inspiring other young singers, including Smokey Robinson and Mary Wilson. Unfortunately, fame was fleeting. Frankie left the group in 1957 for a solo career, and though he occasionally reunited with the Teenagers and both continued to record, neither produced any further hits. By 1960 Frankie’s voice had changed, he’d developed a heroin addiction, and rock ‘n’ roll was fast becoming the domain of white artists. Eight years later, at the age of 25, he died from an overdose.
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers Rock is a compilation that includes most of the hit songs recorded by the group, in addition to several of Frankie’s solo projects, and three sides recorded by the Teenagers following Lymon’s departure, with Billy Lobrano taking over the lead vocal. Among the highlights are “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “I Want You To Be My Girl,” and three more of their top 10 hits (“Out in the Cold Again” is the only major omission). Other enjoyable selections include “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent” (featured in Rock, Rock, Rock), “Baby, Baby” (with a smoking sax solo by Jimmy Wright), and “Fortunate Fellow” (accompanied by the Panama Francis Band), which was used for the soundtrack of Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll.
All of these tracks were taken from Bear Family’s 5 CD box set, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers” Complete Recordings (BCD 15782 EI). However, if you’re looking for a single CD overview, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers Rock is the best available compilation due in part to the extensive liner notes by Peter Grendysa and discography by Bob Hyde.
Posted by Brenda Nelson-Strauss
Review Genre(s): Popular, Rock, and Misc.