Song: Please Don't Say No (a-side) (b-side is Behave, Hula Girl)
Label: Liberty F-55181 (Promotional Copy - Not For Sale)
Songwriters: S. Fain - R. Freed
Two posts in a row from Liberty Records! The last one featured Julie London and to show the broad range of artists Liberty had in their stable, this record is from R&B sensations Billy Ward and His Dominoes.
Billy Ward and His Dominoes were one of the top American R&B groups of the early 1950's, and launched the careers of both Clyde McPhatter and Jackie Wilson. Billy Ward himself was born in Savannah, Georgia, on September 19th, 1921. He grew up in Philadelphia, the second of three sons of Charles and Cora Bates Williams, and was a child musical prodigy. He studied music in Chicago, and at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. While working as a vocal coach and part-time arranger on Broadway, he met talent agent Rose Marks, who became his business and songwriting partner. The pair set out to form a vocal group from the ranks of his students. The group was at first called the Ques, and comprised Clyde McPhatter (lead tenor), Charlie White (tenor), Joe Lamont (baritone), and Bill Brown (bass). Ward acted as their pianist and arranger. The group eventually signed with Federal Records, where they released their first single, called Do Something For Me, with McPhatter’s lead vocal. It reached the R&B charts in early 1951, and climbed to #6. Their big smash was Sixty Minute Man, which reached all the way to #1 on the R&B charts in May 1951, and stayed there for 14 weeks. It even made it as high as #17 on the Popular charts.
Though various members began leaving and starting their own careers, Charlie White and Bill Brown in 1951, Clyde McPhatter in early 1953, (whose replacement was Jackie Wilson), and Joe Lamont and James McNeil, who had replaced Bill Brown, Billy Ward kept the Dominoes going and they continued to be a successful recording act. In 1954, Ward moved the group to the Jubilee label, then to Decca, where, except for the moderate hit single St. Therese Of The Roses, the group was unable to follow that success in the charts, and this brought about more personnel changes. In April of 1957, the group moved to Liberty Records and scored their last charted hit, Star Dust. Although this was their last major success, they continued recording as a group into the 1960's. Billy Ward died in Los Angeles, California on February 16th, 2002, at the Centinela Park Convalescent Hospital. The Dominoes were elected to the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame in 2006.
Today's record, Please Don't Say No, is an impassioned plea from a lover to his girl, sung as Rhythm and Blues artists do so well. The vocalist on this recording sounds a lot like the lead singer of The Platters, Tony Williams, giving you an idea of the sound. With outstanding background vocals and a peppy rock and roll arrangement, including piano and strings, it's not hard to see why Billy Ward had so much success. Even though their best years were behind them when they released this song in 1959, please enjoy Please Don't Say No by Billy Ward and His Dominoes. Do this for me and yourself!