UPDATED June 23, 2020 This is the second in a long procession of re-vamped collections and it's going all the way back to the beginning. I do believe this was actually the second artist retrospective I posted on the blog, so it's a a fitting one to re-visit. The Vibrations were by far one of the finer vocal groups out of California in the 60s. Dynamic showmen in their prime, with a bulky repertoire of diverse material -- and champions of the northern soul scene -- these cats dialed down the D-Town sound better than most anyone in Michigan. Later in their career they even recorded under Gamble & Huff for a spell in the late 60s / early 70s. Let's dig in ... again!
Centered around frontman James Johnson, the group initially began recording as The Jayhawks, and had a hit on Flash Records in 1956 with "Stranded In The Jungle" (US #18). Further singles for the label were less successful. The following year the group recorded a pair of singles with Earl Palmer for Aladdin Records and in 1958, with a modified line-up, did a stint with Eastman Records as 'The Cleechays/Cleeshays. Supporting Danny Tyrell for a single, Sonny Knight on another and releasing one on their own. After another line-up adjustment, the group reverted to their ABC-Paramount alias of 'The Vibes' for a few singles in 1959. With another line-up change in 1960, The Vibrations were born. The quintet's members included Don Bradley, Carl Fisher, Dave Govan, James Johnson and Ricky Owens. Though signed to Checker with several minor success', the group also recorded under the name 'The Marathons' for Arvee Records. And as luck would have it, in 1961 both groups had concurrent hit singles. The Vibrations charted with "The Watusi" (US #25), while The Marathons made good on "Peanut Butter" (US #20) written by Hidle Brown Barnum, Martin Cooper, Fred Smith and Cliff Goldsmith. The Marathons of course, did not go the distance. By 1963 the lads were fully committed to The Vibrations with about a dozen singles under their belt, plus a pair for Atlantic which went a long way towards bringing The Vibrations to new audiences. In 1964 they signed with Okeh Records and embarked on a prolific period, churning out three full length albums and a dozen more singles in just a little over a two year stretch. Their 1968 track "Cause You're Mine" for Epic Records -- although originally on Okeh Records -- is listed as # 48 in The Northern Soul Top 500 by Kev Roberts. "This track knocks you sideways by the 4th bar and continues to race against time, leaving you collapsed in a heap of delight!". I'm inclined to agree with Kev here, though I'd rank this track somewhere in the top 10. From 1969 to 1970 the group briefly recorded for Neptune Records (Gamble & Huff) where they released a few singles. All of which are fairly decent despite completely missing the charts. The Vibrations briefly broke up in 1971. At this time, Owens became a member of the Temptations, although he was let go after his first few engagements. Owens and the other Vibrations regrouped and continued, releasing the album Taking A New Step on Mandala Records in 1972. A single for North Bay was released late that same year and then a final single came from The Vibrations in 1974 courtesy of Chess Records. They spent a couple years in the nightclub circuit but officially called it quits in 1976. Ricky Owens died in 1996. David Govan died in 2009, and James Johnson is also deceased. On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed The Vibrations among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Make It Last is the full-meal deal! Completely re-vamped and re-assembled from scratch ... to simply say "improvements/additions" would be a gross understatement. All five albums remastered (with both stereo and mono versions for the Okeh LP's), a complete singles collection (greatly improved and including close to ten unissued cuts), the lone LP as by The Marathons (also remastered) and as an added bonus, a makeshift discography collection covering the Jayhawks/Cleeshays/Vibes recordings. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.