Among the many groups that sprang up in the wake of The Ravens success and tried to emulate their bass-led approach without any commercial luck.

The Carols began singing as a gospel group in Detroit known as The Unity Baptist Five as their members toiled by day on the assembly lines in the automotive factories in town. Since that was hardly a very enjoyable occupation and since most skilled labors, even those belonging to a good union, didn’t get much acclaim for putting in windshield wipers or bolting on doors, they decided to switch from gospel to rock using The Ravens as their prototypes because bass singer Tommy Evans had a bass voice that many felt rivaled Jimmy Ricks.

The other members, tenors Richard Coleman and William Davis and baritone Wilbert Tindle all could sing well enough to handle a lead if need be, but they left most of the heavy lifting to Evans. Already they had a fifth member in pianist/arranger James Worthy to give them an added professional sheen and after drawing notice around Detroit they headed to New York where they were well-received and managed to secure a contract with major label Columbia who were looking for a suitable Ravens imitator in another halfhearted attempt to court the rock market.

They cut just one session for the company, some of the sides actually being pretty good, but when the label went after The Ravens themselves who were ending their association with National Records there was no need for them to keep The Carols on board. As their records hadn’t sold well they headed back to Detroit to make the rounds of the clubs but three years later got a second chance when they cut a lone single for Savoy Records that similarly failed to make any waves.

Their club act however kept them working and when The Ravens saw them while in the city it set into motion the departure of an unsatisfied Ricks. Needing a replacement for the most famous bass voice in all of rock they wasted no time in selecting Evans, thereby ending The Carols career while Evans rode out the string with The Ravens to the end of the line who were no longer selling big.

In the end The Carols exist mainly in the shadows of the group that inspired them while the twist conclusion gives them a little added notoriety. The group themselves however showed at times they were deserving of some attention for their own work, as derivative as it may have been.

THE CAROLS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Columbia 30210; June, 1950)
More than credible Ravens pastiche with a strong story containing equal parts humor and implied raciness and featuring strong vocal turns by the entire group… hardly original, but they came closer to matching their inspiration than all of the other imitators had to date. (7)

(Columbia 30210; June, 1950)
A fairly common topic that they prove isn’t for everyone, as the structure is a mess and obscures the lead with offhanded commentary all of which veers too close to offensive stereotypes that probably should’ve been expected from a major label entering this field. (2)

(Columbia 30217; August, 1950)
Though Tommy Evans tries his best to convey a little more soulfulness the results are still far too pop-oriented, not just because the singing of the others is so bland but because the song glosses over the subject matter’s ultimate consequences. (2)

(Columbia 30217; August, 1950)
Though the group shows a little more comfort in adapting a rock vocal approach at times here there’s also a few too many reversions to the mean when it comes to pop mindsets to really recommend this rather lightweight song. (4)