The Viscaynes & Friends (ORG Music)
A chapter in the biography of Sylvester Stewart, the mercurial leader of Sly & the Family Stone, concerns his years as members of The Viscaynes, a mixed race doo-wop group that he joined in the early ’60s. At least it hasn’t been explored on record as it is on this recently released collection from ORG Music. It’s a cobbled together album, pulling from the various singles that the group released on small local labels during their brief time together, when they were either presented as a complete unit or when Stewart was pushed into the spotlight. As the liner notes spell out, even the members of the already formed Viscaynes knew they had a monster talent in their midst with Stewart. Making him the center of their music, with his pealing vocals and guitar leads, was only natural. He took to the part with ease. Feathery tunes like “Yellow Moon” and “You’re My Only Love” take on weight when Stewart is involved. The sound quality of some of this collection has some rough edges as the tunes were analog tape that surely has seen better days, but for enthusiasts of early rock ‘n’ roll, those are the rough roads you must travel.
- BOB HAM
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