A short-lived vocal group who were prolific in a variety of ways for Federal Records throughout 1952 but the label failed to make their success as a stand-alone group a priority and so they left the label and broke up by the end of the year, a tantalizing prospect of what might’ve been.

The group owed a good deal to the enduring prototype of The Ravens, particularly with lead singer Ellison White who came from The Wings Over Jordan gospel group, but who seemed perfectly comfortable singing rock ‘n’ roll.

The other members, tenors Bowling Mansfield and Buelle Thomas along with baritone George Comfort supplied the backing vocals and harmonies and they sounded good but their material vacillated between rock and pop on the four sides under their own name, all done at one March session.

However they got plenty of other opportunities singing backup to solo acts on the label including Shirley Haven, Cora Williams, Lil Greenwood and Little Willie Littlefield, most of which – including their own two singles – were released within a three month period by Federal, thereby almost canceling each other out in the market.

Though the idea to have the group act as versatile do-it-all contributors was a solid one in theory, the fact that Federal’s boss Ralph Bass – who was heavily involved in the musical decisions – didn’t seem to have a clear-cut plan beyond that when it came to releases, promotion and primary job requirements for the group meant that none of the records they were associated with became hits, despite some fine performances.

The group broke up when they left Federal, but lead singer White did not return to gospel as might be expected, but rather landed with Doo-Tone Records as a solo act where he fared no better.
THE FOUR JACKS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed On Spontaneous Lunacy):

(Federal 12075; May, 1952)
Though it’s somewhat generic by nature and owes a good deal to The Ravens approach, lead singer Ellison White is very good in his role while the others provide decent support as does the musicians in a sadly underdeveloped arrangement that could’ve used a solo. (6)