The Four Aces
, led by the at times overpowering lead voice of Al Alberts
, had a string of solid hits in the early '50s ("Mister Sandman," "Three Coins in a Fountain," "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing," "[It's No] Sin," "Tell Me Why"), and while it would be easy to pass them off as just another competent vocal quartet blessed with uptown songs, the truth is, their sound is just slightly odd. Not enough to alarm anybody, but enough to make them worthy of a second look. The lush string arrangements on "Three Coins" and "Splendored" give them a huge, sweeping cinematic feel that suits the throw-the-stops-out singing style of Alberts
to a T. At the other end of the scale, both "(It's No) Sin" and "Tell Me Why" are structured around simple roller-rink organ arrangements that are just a little eerie in their steady bubbling. The vocal harmonies at first seem pretty standard, but are actually quite innovative, with Alberts
' lead always threatening to run away with everything, and the tension that creates just below the surface of these songs is fascinating. We're not talking the Mills Brothers
here, but as this collection shows, we're not talking cookie-cutter pop, either.