The Skyliners were a white American doo-wop group from Pittsburgh. The original line-up was: Jimmy Beaumont (lead), Janet Vogel (soprano), Wally Lester (tenor), Jackie Taylor (bass voice, guitarist), Joe Verscharen (baritone).
In 1956 Joe Rock (aged 20), an ABC promotion man, was visiting an Italian social club at Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, A capella vocal groups with a black sound were big. That night Rock saw a young teen group called The Montereys that included Jimmy Beaumont (aged 16, almost) . Rock was impressed by Beaumont's vocals and lured him to another group he managed called The Crescents and with the addition of a couple of people from another group, The Eirios, they became The Skyliners who went on to have hits in the late 50s including "Since I Don't Have You" (1959, #2) and 1960 "Pennies From Heaven" (1960, #24).
They released two albums (though the later was a rehash of the earlier one). That group broke up in the 1964.
Original member Jack Taylor, with Joe Rock’s permission, re-launched The Skyliners in 1965 with a new group of singers released a song and broke up.
In 1970, Jimmy Beaumont, Janet Vogel Rapp, Lester, and VerScharen reformed to tour and record. They recorded this album and promoted themselves. They appeared on the oldies revival and doo-wop revival circuit for several years before breaking up in 1976.
But that's not the end, Jimmy Beaumont formed Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners in the 1990s with Nick Pociask, Dick Muse, and Donna Groom to appear on doo-wop tours and television specials.
And they are still out there somewhere.
The Skyliners were among the more dramatic, theatrical white doo-wop groups and, oddly, weren't made up of (predominantly) either Italians or Jewish types. Their one enduring moment is "Since I Don't Have You" but this album, late in the piece (and which I did not know about), intrigued me, so I forked out $4.
The band have cast off any doo-wop stylings.
This is pure vocal group MOR sunshine pop (google this blog for "sunshine pop" definitions).
The album was recorded in 1970 but sounds 1969. You could here this music on any number of inoffensive TV specials of the time but in it's own way it is quite beautiful. Of course, I'm partial to vocals and vocal groups.
Having said that there is a lot going on within the grooves. There are shared lead vocals between the male and female leads. There are tempo changes on some tracks suggesting jazz rock influences of Blood Sweat and Tears or Chicago Transit Authority. There is also a slight dreamy psych vibe over a few songs and an autumnal melancholy air over other tracks.
Well, it is on the Kama Sutra label (Brewer & Shipley, Lovin' Spoonful, Sopwith Camel).
Okay all those inflections are weighted down by middle of the road inoffensiveness but they do poke out enough to make the album quite distinctive, and lovely.
They sound like a a more white version of The Fifth Dimension, and there is nothing wrong with that.
You can see a chick in a mini skirt and an umbrella tiptoeing through Manhattan Park with the New York City skyline in the background …err, the cover art is alluding to that.
You are literally transported to that time and place.
I'm not sure where you would play it now … dinner party, nightclub, coffee shop … but I would like to give it a whirl and see what happens
Tracks (best in italics)
Once Upon A Time (Yesterday) – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – an excellent example of
- Maybe I Could Have Loved You Better – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – dreamy and slightly trippy.
- That's My World – (Joe Rock / Thom Davies) – a ballad.
- Put A Little Love In Your Heart – (Randy Myers / Jackie DeShannon / Jimmy Holiday) – an interesting take on this song. It doesn't sound like the original at all but has it's own vibe with a black soul feel.
- What's Your Plan – (Janet Vogel Rapp) – a ballad with horns and strings.
- The Thought Of Yesterday – (Jimmy Beaumont / Janet Vogel Rapp) – a groovy sunshine pop number with busy background.
- Dry Your Eyes – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – lead vocals by Janet and it is quite catchy. Apparently originally done in 1967 but unreleased till here.
- Make Mine As Good As Yours – (Jimmy Beaumont / Janet Vogel Rapp) – a group effort.
- Always Something There To Remind Me – (Burt Bacharach / Hal David) – The great Bacharach and David song done by Dionne Warwick, Sandie Shaw and others. It works here also and is a little quirky.
- And So It Goes – (Jimmy Beaumont / Janet Vogel Rapp / Joe Verscharen) – a busy song with enough layers to make Brian Wilson happy.
- Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow – (Joe Rock / Jimmy Beaumont) – a dramatic ballad softened by strings. Well sung.
I need this in the collection … I'm keeping it.
Once Upon A Time (Yesterday)
What's Your Plan
Dry Your Eyes
Always Something There To Remind Me
- Produced by Jag Gerz (not an individual but Pittsburg locals, pop group and label mates The Jaggerz). The album was recorded at Don Elliott's Studio, N.Y. Oct.1970