Drifters
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Former Dominoes vocalist Clyde McPhatter moved to the Drifters, based in New York, and continued his gospel-pop mission with Jesse Stone's Money Honey (1953), his own Honey Love (1954), and Ahmet Ertegun's boogie Whatcha Gonna Do (1954). The new Drifters of 1959 were a completely different group, led by baritone Ben King, whose sophisticated vocals highlighted Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller's There Goes My Baby (1959), their first experiment mixing Latin percussions and strings (a dramatic repudiation of the duo's rock'n'roll format that had helped launch Presley), as well as Jerome Pomus & Mort Schuman's This Magic Moment (1960) and Save The Last Dance For Me (1960). The third season of the Drifters, with King replaced by Rudy Lewis, yielded Gerry Goffin & Carole King's Up On The Roof (1962), Mann & Weil's On Broadway (1963), and finally, with Johnny Moore replacing the late Rudy Lewis, Artie Resnick & Kenny Young's Under The Boardwalk (1964), arranged by Bert Berns with Latin percussions and strings. These hits, mostly produced by Leiber & Stoller, and including Ben King's solo Spanish Harlem (1961) and Stand By Me (1961), a gospel song adapted to Brazilian baion rhythm, were innovative and influenced both soul, pop and rock music.
(Italian text translated by Ornella C. Grannis)

The Drifters formed in New York during the heyday of doo-wop, a style they mastered, thanks to a technique more svelte and lively than the average, and to the voice of Clyde McPhatter, a singer whose fluid style would have a great influence on soul music.

The group ended with the demise doo-wop and was reborn with a completely new formulation. Guided by a pure gospel interpreter, Ben E. King, the new Drifters sang some of the finest melodies ever produced by the Brill Building, starting with There Goes My Baby (1959), with vivid strings and quasi-Latin rhythm, characterized by a violin that played the riffs traditionally left to a saxophone. Drawn to Bacharach's arrangements and aided by the compositions of Brill Building greats, the Drifters became the darlings of the white public as well: This Magic Moment (1960, by Pomus and Schuman) made everybody dream. After the colossal success Save The Last Dance For Me (1960, also by Pomus and Schuman), Ben E. King lowered the sound his voice to render it more touching, but the Latin flavors stifled the improvisation of the group.

After King's departure the Drifters had three more hits: Up On The Roof (1962, by Goffin and King), On Broadway (1963, by Leiber and Stoller) and Under The Boardwalk (1964, by Resnick and Young), brilliant evocations of urban life influenced by the music of Broadway. Their languid and exotic serenades were the soundtrack of America's post-war romanticism.

I Drifters nacquero a New York durante il boom del doo-wop, di cui divennero presto protagonisti con Jesse Stone's Money Honey (1953) and McPhatter's Honey Love (1954), grazie a uno stile piu` agile e vivace della media e della voce di Clyde McPhatter, cantante (gia` nei Dominoes) che ebbe una grande influenza sullo stile piu` fluido del soul.

Il gruppo si spense con il doo-wop, ma resuscito` con una formazione completamente rifatta. Guidati da un puro cantante gospel come Ben King, i nuovi Drifters cantarono alcune delle melodie piu` fini della musica leggera prodotta dal Brill Building, a partire da Leiber & Stoller's There Goes My Baby (1959), che ripudio` il rock'n'roll del duo a favore di una ballad con archi e ritmo latineggiante, caratterizzandole con un violino che emetteva i riff graffianti tradizionalmente affidati al sassofono. Trascinati dagli arrangiamenti di Bacharach e dalle composizioni dei grandi del Brill, i Drifters divennero beniamini anche del pubblico bianco e This Magic Moment (1960, di Pomus e Schuman) fece sognare un po' tutti. Con il colossale hit Save The Last Dance For Me (1960, sempre Pomus e Schuman) Ben King abbasso` il registro della sua voce per renderla piu` commovente, ma gli accenti latini tolsero respiro alle improvvisazioni del gruppo.
Senza piu` King i Drifters ebbero ancora tre successi: Up On The Roof (1962, di Goffin & King), On Broadway (1963, di Leiber & Stoller) e Under The Boardwalk (1964, di Resnick & Young) brillanti evocazioni di momenti di vita degli adolescenti in citta`, influenzate dal sound dei musical di Broadway. Le loro languide ed esotiche serenate furono la colonna sonora del neo-romanticismo del Dopoguerra.

Ben King died in 2015.

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