eMusic Review 0
The Four Vagabonds are the missing link between the Mills Brothers, the Ink Spots and the bird groups (the Orioles, the Ravens, the Flamingoes), bridging the war years of the 1940s to span black secular harmony emerging from the church and swing bands as it evolves into the underpinnings of rock ‘n’ roll and the whiter, more teen-friendly variety known as doo-wop. They tend to get overlooked in this lineage in the same way WWII vets found when they returned from duty, a world changed, aged by their experience on the front, which in the Vagabonds’ case meant also weathering the Musician’s Union strike of 1942-44, which effectively banned instruments from the studio. They were lucky that, like the Mills, they provided their own musical accompaniment, uncannily imitating instruments like a trumpet or bass fiddle, their harmonic blend a cappella of the first order. They couldn’t showboat, preferring to stand close together to align their voices, a complex interweaving of moving and passing chords.
The three volumes of Document’s chronological segue of the group’s varied output — of a supposed repertoire of 1500 songs, the Four Vagabonds only recorded a small percentage — highlights their skill in the studio, perhaps honed… read more »