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Big breaks often don’t lead anywhere… and other facts of life… today is brought to you by a group who admirably did not give up trying, but who nevertheless discovered that there are different ways to measure success… and not all of them equally rewarding.

When it comes to music the most sought after way to measure success is to become stars, or at least have a few small hit records that gives them that illusion for awhile. If you can somehow sustain a full-time career playing or singing for your entire adult life, then that’s an outcome few could find fault with.

But it’s also a success just to get signed to a record label in the first place… to release a record or two… and maybe a few more, even if they come under a different name for a different label… or two more names and three more labels.

Those are the success stories that seem like failures when compared to the hit-makers and enduring stars, when by contrast these artists are constantly scrambling and clawing their way up a mountainside only to wind up pitilessly tumbling back down again.

Here’s where that climb starts… and we’re telling you now, they’ll never get close to the top. But that may only make it all the more interesting in the end.


Will Find Your Love Someday
In the outskirts of the music industry there were always deals going on… shady deals maybe, but not necessarily duplicitous ones, such as the one where Washington D.C. music impresarios had “connections” to certain New York record companies.

Not always on the payroll, at least not at first, but probably not above taking some money if it were offered in gratuity.

The most famous of which was Atlantic Records stemming from Ahmet Ertegun’s youth spent in the nation’s capital and which naturally found him tapping those sources for local airplay early on and then in picking up promising local artists like The Clovers down the road.

But what sometimes is forgotten is that The Clovers didn’t start out on Atlantic, but rather Rainbow Records, which is also the label releasing The Lovers, the first, and only, record to come out by this group under the name of The Jets.

That happened when Eartheline Lee saw them perform at The Cotton Club in D.C. and signed the group to a management contract which she then earned by getting them a session with Rainbow Records in New York.

What was the link that she – and The Clovers’ manager Lew Krefetz – both had with tiny insignificant Rainbow Records? Probably nothing more than a chatty emissary from the label making local people on the outskirts of the music business around town feel important… which then pays off when they’re the first ones contacted about a new act.

But in the end Rainbow lost The Clovers who became stars at a bigger label… and they lost The Jets who never became stars at another big label even if they became known as somebody else.

Maybe that’s all just part of the deal.

Will Leave You Weeping
The question you want answered right away is whether the interest in this group was warranted.

That’s still up for debate after hearing this. The Jets are certainly good enough to be releasing records. Lead singer Buck Mason has a slightly nasal voice, but he keeps it under control, has good technique, particularly in terms of his timing, as he adroitly manages to stay just a fraction of an inch behind the music, never wavering in his pace.

He also convincingly embodies the emotional qualities the song requires… a song that was written by the group’s bass singer John Bowie, showing that they were not merely singers but creators as well.

All of that bodes well for them, but the particulars of The Lovers show that while they have reasonable skill in all of those areas, they don’t have any one skill that will allow them to stand out from the pack… a pack which in 1952 involves some pretty heady company among rock vocal groups.

The song, as you might guess from the title alone, is a dreamy ballad, maybe even slower than most which is exacerbated by Mason’s delivery. That works well enough for him but it doesn’t allow the rest of the group to do much more behind him than add muted atmosphere… and rather shaky atmosphere at that.

You get the idea however that anything more complex would completely throw off the mood they’re trying to serve up. Though it’s admirable that one of the background singers would write something that didn’t involve a bigger part for himself and the others, but by not doing so it also meant far more was riding on the story and melody, not to mention Mason’s lead.

As for the quality of those other things we can state the melody is pretty nice, if not very original, but at least it perfectly represents the longing strains of young love, always reaching upwards yet holding the notes as if afraid that to let go will send you crashing down alone.

On the other hand when it comes to the story… well, let’s be nice and say it works alright as long as it plays. In other words while listening The Lovers you believe the sentiments are coming from Mason directly as he is enraptured by a girl who is clearly out of reach. It’s a little stilted and awkward, but so too is love at that stage, so it’s fitting.

But beyond that the lyrics are almost the definition of ephemeral. Beyond the general feeling they convey you’d be stumped to set the scene based on what you heard here. There’s no memorable lines, not even a familiar hook to return to in a chorus. It’s more like a rambling dissertation on love by someone who doesn’t fully understand it yet, but worse still, doesn’t understand how to leave a lasting impression with what is being sung, something which tends to come in handy when trying to get a hit record.

With bare bones instrumental accompaniment that makes even the sax solo seem almost transparent, the record passes like a dream upon waking. It’s pretty enough to enjoy as it happens, but will be hard to recall by mid-morning and more or less forgotten by tomorrow.


Here In My Heart They’ll Always Stay
A new group with a record that sounds good, even if it’s not embedding itself in your memory bank, and which shows reasonable talent in a multitude of ways should be something to celebrate, especially for a record label with little impact on the scene to date, but you immediately ask yourself why they didn’t capitalize on this… or bother to try for that matter.

Clearly Rainbow Records has no one to blame but themselves as they issued The Lovers as the year was wrapping up, a time when even the most hustling of jukebox operators were busy with other matters, meaning the company’s ads for the record were lost in the issues crammed with generic Holiday and Year End thanks by the bigger labels.

Secondly, while we just went on record in our review of The Diamonds debut, saying that first time groups might be better served by cutting just two sides at their first recording session to allow them to immediately make adjustments after seeing the reception of their initial offerings, in the case of The Jets there WAS no second session, so their first two sides was their only release on Rainbow. So much for building a roster of hard-working ambitious kids to grow with over time!

For some reason Rainbow Records simply let the group walk away… to Aladdin Records, who at the very least presumably knew what they were doing more than this company did.

No wonder success was so hard to find in this business when it was always being run by such nitwits.


(Visit the Artist page of The Jets for the complete archive of their records reviewed to date)