45: “So Much In Love” b/w “Roscoe James McClain” by the Tymes. Parkway P-871. Recorded in Philadelphia, 1963.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

The Tymes were a Philadelphia doo wop group that formed in 1960. They were stuck playing local clubs for a few years, until they were signed to Parkway in 1963; a strong showing in a talent contest sponsored by local radio station WDAS had gotten the label’s attention. Their smooth vocal harmonies and lead singer George Williams’ mellow baritone came together in the studio to create “So in Love,” their only #1 song in the US.

The opening sounds of waves crashing might have been too much studio trickery for Doo Wop purists, but the general public loved it. And the purists were sure to be annoyed by the gruff weirdness of B-side “Roscoe James McClain.” Personally, I think it’s a hoot.

Their next single was a lovely, faithful rendition of the 1957 Johnny Mathis hit, “Wonderful Wonderful.” It reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. For an overblown, unfaithful rendition of the 1957 Johnny Mathis hit, “Wonderful Wonderful,” click here.

Their 1964 rendition of Bobby Vinton’s “To Each His Own” only made it to #78, while the other two single for that year only went as far as #92 and #99. That was enough to get them dropped from the label, which seems unfair when the music is this good.

CBS picked up the group in 1968. Their cover of “People” cracked the Top 40 at #39, but they were dropped yet again the following year.

“People” made it as far as #16 in the UK. 1974’s “You Little Trustmaker” (What’s the opposite of a heartbreaker?  A trustmaker!) made it as far as #19 across the pond, and #12 in the USA. Things were starting to look up.

“Ms. Grace” made it all the way to #1 in the UK. Unfortunately, it peaked at #91 here in the states. Maybe RCA Victor had a savvier promotional team over there, or maybe Britons just have better taste in music than us, at least some of the time.

It’s worth noting that the only American #1 hit The Tymes ever had was the one that was co-written by its lead singer; it would  eventually be covered by The Supremes, Art Garfunkel, and All 4 One. One wonders just how much record company interference had to do with their stunted success. Still, they continued to perform on the Oldies circuit well into the 2000’s, before the death of George Williams in 2004. And they still sounded great.

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