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The Five Echoes with Fats Cole's Band

The Five Echoes with Fats Cole's Band

Baby, Come Back To Me

For a group with no hits, The Five Echoes had some mighty familiar names float through. Based on Chicago's South Side, they started as The Flames because they frequented a nitery of the same name before switching to The Five Echoes handle.

 

On their first single for Chicago's Sabre label (a subsidiary of Art Sheridan's Chance Records), cut in August of 1953 and pressed the next month, future uptown soul crooner Tommy Hunt (born June 18, 1933 in Pittsburgh) sang second tenor, and Walter Spriggs guested as lead vocalist on the blues-kissed Baby, Come Back To Me and its opposite side, Lonely Mood. Spriggs had taken the Echoes under his wing, gigging with them for a year at a club up in Kenosha, Wisconsin where they honed their act before Chance's Ewart Abner signed them. Walter penned both sides, Sabre mangling his surname as Spreegs on the label 

First tenor Earl Lewis (formerly with Chicago's Swallows, who became The Flamingos - see Track 12), baritone Herbert Lewis, baritone Constant 'Count' Sims, and bass Jimmy Marshall were the rest of the Echoes. Pianist Ike 'Fats' Cole led the band; he was Nat King Cole's brother and later made his own singles for Bally and Todd, staying close to his older sibling's sophisticated approach.

Hunt was drafted after that, but the Echoes had no problem lining up another future soul luminary to take his place. Johnnie Taylor was on board for The Five Echoes' encore Sabre session in January of '54, pairing a couple more 'Spreegs' songs, So Lonesome and Broke. Sims led both with Taylor chiming in on the former (the band included saxist Red Holloway). Sabre put them out in February. Spriggs cut his own Sabre single at the same date under the alias of Wally Wilson with the Echoes backing him. His discography also includes sides for Apollo (1953), Chicago deejay Al Benson's Blue Lake (1954), Atco (1956-57), and several more, these as Walter Spriggs. Hunt returned for the quintet's last Sabre session later that month, but the label tabled the Echoes' masters That's My Baby and Why Oh Why.

The Five Echoes gravitated to another Chicago R&B indie label, Vee-Jay, in late October without Spriggs, rebounding with two more singles (bassist Al Smith led the band). Taylor wrote the jumping Tell Me Baby, half of their first one, while Sims penned its ballad flip I Really Do. Johnnie also scribed Tastee Freeze, their rocking Vee-Jay encore (a blues-drenched Fool's Prayer occupied the other side). On both singles, Vee-Jay reconfigured their handle as The Five Echos. Hunt soon split to join The Flamingos. The Five Echoes (or Echos) stopped echoing in 1956.

Various - Street Corner Symphonies Vol.05, 1953 The Complete Story Of Doo Wop

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