The "5" Royales were a relatively unheralded, but significant, link between early R&B and early soul in their combination of doo wop, jump blues, and gospel styles. Their commercial success was relatively modest – they had seven Top Ten R&B hits in the 1950s, most recorded in the span of little over a year between late 1952 and late 1953. A few of their singles would prove extremely popular in cover versions by other artists, though – James Brown and Aretha Franklin tore it up with "Think," Ray Charles covered "Tell the Truth," and the Shirelles (and later the Mamas & the Papas) had pop success with "Dedicated to the One I Love." .
As the original guitarist of Stax Records house band Booker T. & The M.G.'s., Steve Cropper has had a storied career. Voted #36 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time, Cropper has worked with blues legends such as Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and the Blues Brothers Band. His debut album on 429 Records is a tribute to R&B and doo wop act, The 5 Royales. The collection features reworked versions of the groups most enduring songs, and includes duets with Lucinda Williams, Bettye LaVette, John Popper, Sharon Jones, and others.
This wonderful four-disc, 105-track box of postwar Afro-American gospel releases from the 1940s and 1950s was compiled by record collector and gospel historian Opal Louis Nations, and it perfectly captures what was surely a golden age for black gospel. Gospel as we now know it emerged in the South in the early '30s, an outgrowth of the right to assemble and the advent of gospel songwriters like Thomas A. Dorsey (who had sung previously in the secular arena as Georgia Tom), who brought the blues to church, tossed in some ragtime piano rhythms, and almost single-handedly created the genre to the point that his compositions were simply known as "Dorseys.