Artist: Billy Ward and his Dominoes
Label: Real Gone Music
Formats: 2-CD set, MP3
Release date: May 4, 2015
The Dominoes’ first release with Federal records was the single “Do Something For Me” with the song “Chicken Blues” on the flipside. Though they had only entered the studio on November of 1950, by early 1951 “Do Something For Me” had reached #6 on Billboard’s R&B “Best Seller” list. Originally known as The Ques, Billy Ward, founder of the group as well as pianist, vocal coach, and bandleader, led his four additional members—Clyde McPhatter, Charlie White, Bill Brown and Joe Lamont—to win Apollo’s amateur show in October of 1950. Quickly they were introduced to Syd Nathan, head of King Records, who sent the newly named Dominoes to his subsidiary, Federal Records. Only a few months later, The Dominoes had a hit on their hands and the hits just kept coming. Now, Real Gone Music has released a comprehensive collection of recordings from this group that would eventually launch the careers of both Jackie Wilson and Clyde McPhatter. These 58 songs, tracked in order of release, and the accompanying essay by vocal group expert Bill Dahl, illuminate the Dominoes’ body of work, including well-known tracks like “Sixty Minute Man,” “Have Mercy Baby,” “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down,” and “Rags to Riches.” This collection also documents the changes in membership, including the addition of a former boxer from Detroit, Jackie Wilson, in 1953. By bringing together all of the Dominoes’ recording from their time at Federal and King Records, we’re offered a snapshot into one of the greatest and most influential R&B groups of the 1950s.
Reviewed by Christina Harrison