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Very Best Of The Tokens
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Very Best Of The Tokens

2 Feb. 2010 | Format: MP3

£4.99 (VAT included if applicable)
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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 2 Feb. 2010
  • Release Date: 2 Feb. 2010
  • Label: Ba-Ba Music
  • Total Length: 41:50
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B0037K3K3E
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 176,678 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 10 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Act II: Beyond the one-hit wonder! 30 April 2004
By hyperbolium - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Though technically a two-hit wonder - their first single was the top-20 charting "Tonight I Fell in Love" - the Tokens are popularly known for 1961's chart-topping "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Much like other one hit wonders that were real groups (rather than temporary concoctions of a record producer), there was some great music that followed their brief intersection with commercial fortune. Perhaps their larger chart impact (and an idea in search of a compilation CD) is their production and background vocal work for groups like The Chiffons, Randy & The Rainbows, The Happenings, and Tony Orlando & Dawn.
What's featured here is the group's "second act." Having left RCA (where they scored with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), they embarked on an interesting series of recordings for their own B.T. Puppy label, combining their Brooklyn doo-wop roots with Brill Building pop and the burgeoning sunshine sounds of the 1960s. The group wrote a significant portion of their own material, with highlights including the falsetto-driven "Breezy," the discothèque rock of "Swing," and the pop psychedelia of 1967's "Green Plant."
The group was also connected to several of the era's top songwriters, and availed itself of exceptional songs like Carole King's "He's in Town" and Al Kooper's "The Water is Over My Head." Sadly, neither of these created made as big an impact on the U.S. charts as The Rockin' Berries' (not very dissimilar) versions made in the UK. The Tokens take of Barry & Greenwich's obscure "Nobody But You" had the makings of a hit (that never was), combining their doo-wop harmonies with catchy vocal accents and a sweet acoustic guitar hook. The group found latter-day adult contemporary success via a sweetly dated "duet" with The Kirby Stone Four entitled, "Life is Groovy."
Bonus tracks include re-recordings of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" and "Tonight I Fell in Love" that couldn't hope to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle of the originals, and a quartet of fun radio commercials. Cuts 1, 6, 9, 16, 17-18 are true stereo, the rest are mono (and, as others have pointed out, from fidelity-limited masters) - but sound quality isn't the selling point here; the group's energy, vocal arrangements and strong song choices are what count.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Finest Late-Era White Doo-Wop 11 April 2004
By "gbtreacy" - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is the CD I've been hoping would be issued for a very long time; these great tracks seemed like a long-shot for reissue, but here they are, in muddy-decent mono("A Girl Named Arlene") ranging to pretty glorious stereo ("I Hear Trumpets Blow"). The bulk of the CD is devoted to The Tokens' best work for their own record label (pioneering for a band at that time, to say the least), B.T. Puppy records (with the cocker spaniel - or is it a Cavalier? - lovingly reproduced on the disc). None of these tunes ever cracked the Billboard Top 20, though most deserved to (something to do with British Invasion groups). Almost exactly 40 years ago to the day, my ever-generous Dad let me buy a 69-cent copy of the 45 of "Swing" b/w "A Girl Named Arlene," one of the very first acquisitions of what has become a truly vast collection (I was 12 at the time, and since have insanely brought together roughly 45,000 LPs, 5,000 45s, and, more recently, a huge number of CDs - but this early purchase, along with the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" on the yellow Tollie label [what ever happened to that label?], is still among my very favorites. I had just awakened to pop music, and "Swing" had reached about #17 on the WMCA (Murray the "K") charts in NY (it peaked out at #105 on the Billboard "Bubbling Under" charts). "Swing" is a super-"up" Latin-flavored cut that features the soaring falsetto of the truly great Jay Siegel. The stereo is on the crude side (listen for the tape splices when the "crowd" joins in, center channel, midway through the song -- production almost as clunky as U.S. Bonds' Legrand records, but (like them) it doesn't matter in the least. The song is great, an unknown classic that folks in the NY Metro area went nuts for in 1964. If you like late-era white doo-wop (the Earls, the Reflections), you have to hear this thing. Other high points include "Breezy," so obscure even I had never heard it before, the minor hit "He's In Town" (with, again, dreadful production values, including a back-up orchestra playing nearly a half-tone flatter than the group is singing (shades of Mamas & Papas at Dunhill)), "I Could See Me Dancin With You," "I Hear Trumpets Blow" (wow - made it to Billboard #30), and a very offbeat song about a dying office plant, "Green Plant." Much of this is doo-wop cum psychedelia, a very wierd and very engaging mix that never exactly caught the national imagination, alas. Other groups (including the Monkees) picked up on some of these songs and had considerably more success with them. "Life is Groovy" with the Stone Kirby Four is pleasant if utterly dated, and while the remake of "Lion Sleeps Tonight," (the group's vast 1961 hit) is weak, the remake of their earlier Top 20 hit, "Tonight I Fell In Love," is better than the original, fine as that was. Four quick commercials (hey, if you don't keep cracking the Top 40, you have to moonlight!) fill out the playlist, only one of which I remember, the "Great Shakes" commercial. This is very rare (till now), vintage, American pop by superb artists (Jay Siegel's falsettos - holy mackeral). Grab it before it hits the cutout bins and drifts back into undeserved obscurity!!
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Very Best of their Very Worst-sounding recordings 15 April 2004
By M. Forman - Published on
Format: Audio CD
VareseVintage is to be commended for their attempt to rescue this lesser-known segment of the Tokens' sixties recordings. Indeed there are some obscure Brill-building gems here, including "He's in Town' and it's catchy follow-up 'You're My Girl', as well as their own 'I Hear Trumpets Blow' (one of the only stereo cuts on here). For some reason, though, Varese found it more appropriate to limit the number of original B.T.Puppy cuts to a paltry 16 and instead include 4 commercial snippets which have no obvious musical value whatsoever; meanwhile, 30 minutes of space are leftover, where an unknown gem from those years, Randy Newman's 'Just One Smile', could have easily fit along with several others. But my BIGGEST caveat here is the SOUND: while I'm sure Varese did the best mastering job they could with what they had to work with, the original B.T.Puppy masters were always abysmal-sounding, and remain so here. Not only are most only in mono, but even the few stereo exceptions such as "I Hear Trumpets' have an undeniably 'tinny' sound. It's too bad the Tokens had left RCA prior to forming this, their own homegrown budget-label, because their previous RCA masters are all in pristine stereo and sound remarkably good even today. Tokens fans are advised to pick up the individual B.T.Puppy singles as desired, and check out the BMG 'Best of' (RCA cuts) cd, which, though far from comprehensive, sounds so glorious you'll feel as if you are there during the original early '60's recording sessions.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Finally lost songs from the BT Puppy years 2 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
It is wonderful to finally have these tunes available on CD. With lost classics like Breezy this collection illustrated again the superior breadth of the Tokens talent. My only criticism is that too many other excellent cuts were omitted ... hopefully they will appear in a future release. I strongly recommend this collection of songs from this truly great group.
Neat Music, and A Long Lost Missing Link for Some of Us 28 May 2014
By Bruce Eder - Published on
Format: Audio CD
No, the Tokens weren't exactly burning up the charts in the years represented here -- Jay & The Americans and the ubiquitous Four Seasons were having a somewhat easier time connecting with radio stations and the public -- but the music here is all worthwhile, and one has to give special credit to the Varese producers for reaching out to one of the group's genuine obscurities: "Life Is Groovy," a late 1960s attempt at hipness authored by renowned teacher/conductor Ralph Affoumado, that harks back almost a decade in style (and, not coincidentally, features the Tokens collaborating with the Kirby Stone Four), but has enough hooks to stay in the listener's head for decades. (We knew it where I was, and in later decades I crossed paths with a colleague who told me that one of the nuns at her Catholic school used to play that record all of the time). It's little treasures like that, in the absence of a comprehensive Tokens set, that make this CD a genuine treat.
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