One of the longer-lasting and most productive black vocal group of the 1940’s and 50’s, albeit largely in the Pop Music realm, The Four Tunes made occasional forays into the rock field over a half dozen years but their success as a pop act made their attempts at achieving a sort of reverse crossover to rock ‘n’ roll seem half-hearted and compromised much of the time.

The group began in 1946 as The Sentimentalists and achieved a #1 hit when backing fellow black pop vocalist Savannah Churchill in 1947. Two additional hits followed in 1948 as The Four Tunes and they were seen as potential competition for, or heirs to the style of, The Ink Spots, who’d been one of the few black vocal groups to achieve mainstream pop stardom throughout the 1940’s.

When rock came along and offered far more opportunity to black acts to find success on their own terms without adapting their style to suit white audiences The Four Tunes had little incentive to join in and risk alienating their established fan base. But the music that was starting to make headway amongst rock vocal groups was conceivably suited to them if they allowed themselves to shed their mannered pose long enough to connect with it.

From time to time they’d make the effort to, or at least try and bridge the gap between the two disparate styles, usually falling short of being accepted as authentic rockers because their widely known persona ran counter to that image, and because they rarely avoided hedging their bets with the deliveries, though a few times they came close and scored hits.

Ultimately a fairly major act in the overall music scene of their era, but only a minor factor in rock ‘n’ roll due to choice more than ability.
THE FOUR TUNES DISCOGRAPHY (Reviews To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
(Manor 1131; April, 1948)
Lead singer Pat Best hints at soulful urgency but the others won’t let him get far with it, as the entire group is too restrained to pull it off in the way rock was increasingly demanding… still a nice enough record with a few good moments that suggest they could’ve made a go of it had they allowed themselves to. (3)

(Manor 1154; December, 1948)
Racy, off-color ditty with euphemisms that don’t exactly hide their intent making for an interesting release from a pop-oriented group only sporadically dabbling in rock. (6)

(RCA 22-0024; May, 1949)
A sublime reworking of the blues standard done with an airy arrangement and masterful lead from Danny Owens on what might just be their best effort in a long career. (7)

(RCA 22-0058; December, 1949)
An absolutely beautifully sung rendition of a song with conflicting musical elements and a compromised backstory which nevertheless manages to overcome both of those issues with the best vocal arrangement yet conceived for the standard. (7)

(RCA 22-0072; March, 1950)
Despite a soulful lead by Pat Best that deserves a much better fate, the record takes no chances otherwise as it becomes increasingly obvious no one involved wants to commit to rock even now making you doubt they ever will. (4)

(RCA 20-3881; August, 1950)
An insipid pop song that removes all emotional consequence from the story and wraps it in an arrangement that accentuates the phoniness of it all, but the brief acapella opening and closing are mesmerizing and give a hint as to what is to come in doo-wop circles. (3)

(RCA 20-3967; November, 1950)
Despite straddling the rock-pop divide a little too much for comfort, the vocal prowess shown here is far too good to be denied and if this remains slightly adrift stylistically, in terms of quality it’s at home anywhere there’s good music. (8)

(RCA 20-4305; September, 1951)
Maybe the most authentic rock record, front to back, the group has yet issued featuring enthusiastic vocal lines, a steady rhythm and most impressively of all Big John greer guesting on sax and blowing up a storm. (7)