Personnel: Rene Hall (guitar); Plas Johnson (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Earl Palmer (drums, percussion).
Liner Note Author: Bill Millar.
Like many a one-hit early rock & roll vocal group, the Flares never came up with anything else to match their sole smash ("Foot Stomping Pt. 1") creatively or commercially. So this 26-track collection of 1960-1963 material will be of interest almost solely to serious doo wop collectors, assembling most of the songs from the singles they did for the Felsted and Press labels (including the Press single they did under the name the Peppers), adding a few tracks from their 1961 album and three previously unreleased cuts. The Flares were good singers and their records had solid R&B/rock & roll backing with shades of soul, blues, and jazz, but they came up against the limitations so common to many second-division groups of the era: their material wasn't that special and also stuck to a formula too often. In the Flares' case, that formula was up-tempo early soul records wedded to a type of dance, whether it was "Hand Clappin'," "Doing the Hully Gully," "Shimmy and Stomp," "The Monkey Walk," or covers of "The Stroll" and "Pony Time." Occasionally they broke away from that pattern, though not with astounding results, as on the contrived two-part novelty "Rock and Roll Heaven" or several cuts that find a female vocalist taking the lead part. Some of the later cuts edge toward a more modern sound akin to early Motown sides by groups like the Contours, though the songs and production weren't as good. The liner notes gamely make sense of the group's complicated and confusing evolution from the '50s doo wop act the Flairs into the related but different early-'60s aggregation of the Flares. ~ Richie Unterberger