Marlboros, The and The Jokers Six

Band members               Related acts

  The Marlboros

- Alfred Fowler -- vocals (1966-67)

Phil Johnson -- vocals (1964-67)

- Robert Kelly -- vocals (1965-67)

- Phil Kirksey -- vocals (1964-67) 


  The Jokers Six

- Don "Tommy" Barnes -- tenor saxophone (1966-67)

- Charles "Reggie" Bryant -- alto saxophone (1966-67)

- Albert Dinkins -- bass (1966-67)

- Gary Fesperman -- drums, percussion (1966-67)

- Donald Leonard -- lead guitar (1966-67)

- Scott Smoot -- rhythm guitar (1966-67)


- none known





Genre: soul

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Real Live Girl

Company: Justice

Catalog: 126
Year: 1966

Country/State: G

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: minor edge wear; front and back signed by band members

Available: 1

GEMM catalog ID: 5702

Price: $175.00


If you wandered through my website you'll know that I'm a big fan of the Justice label.  I certainly won't claim that everything released by the company is fantastic.  Fact of the matter is that much of it is crap.  But at least to my ears there's still something fascinating about the company and their low tech garage and soul releases.


This album is unique in the Justice catalog for a couple of reasons.  It's the only multi-act release and it's one of two multi-racial acts on the label; to say nothing of the fact the black act was featured on the 'A' side.  Quite a daring marketing decision by a North Carolina-based company in the mid-1960s.


Though they should be taken with a grain of salt, the liner notes provided a little bit of information on these two groups.  The Marlboros formed in the mid-1960s showcasing the talents of Alfred Fowler, Phil Johnson, Robert Kelly, and Phil Kirksey.  Johnson and Kiksey started singing together in high school, adding Kelly in 1965 and Fowler the following year.


The Jokers Six were formed in March 1966.  The original members were sax player Charles "Reggie" Bryant, bassist Albert Dinkins, lead guitarist Donald Leonard, and rhythm guitarist Scott Smoot.  The line up was rounded out by sax player Don "Tommy" Barnes, and drummer Gary Fesperman.  


The two groups were paired together in August 2006, with the Jokers Six playing support band to The Marlboros.  They quickly recording "Real Live Girl", but even by Justices standards, this one had a raw and low-tech sound.  Most of the Marlboros' sides sounded like they'd been recorded over an old long distance phone line with the band singing in a bathroom stall and the tape machine at the other end.  Musically The Marlboros were actually fairly interesting.  Their repertoire placed them at the intersection of doo wop and 1960s soul.  Yeah, it was occasionally a bit old fashioned, but on the original title track and 'Beg Me' they were quite good.  Elsewhere the performances were less enticing.  Even when singing popular soul covers the quartet had a tendency to fall back on their doo wop roots, giving tracks like 'Ooh Baby Baby' and 'May I' a shrill and fragile feel.  


- In spite of the crappy sound, the title track was easily the standout performance.  You can only imagine what it might have been like in the hands of a real production team.

- Their Temptations cover was so bad that it was funny ...  You've never heard 'Get Ready' done this way.  Amazing that anyone was willing to actually issue this on vinyl, though it serves as hope for the musically incompetent everywhere.

- In contrast they actually did an okay job on their cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' 'Ooh Baby Baby'.  Again you'd never pick this version over the original, but at least you could sit through this one without laughing.

- 'May I' had a distinctive doo wop-meets-The Four Seasons feel which you'll either love or hate - little in between on this one.

- I think 'Beg Me' was another group original.  Again it showed off some of their doo wop roots, but this time to good effect.


On to The Jokers Six ...  Well give them credit for doing their best.  Unfortunately there musical competence was marginal making for an album that was simply full of blown notes, fractured melodies, and disjointed rhythms ...  it's all here and Justice engineers did little to fix the flaws.  Of course if your buying a Justice album you're not looking for polished performances and those sloppy performances add to the set's charm.    


- Side one ended with the surf instrumental 'Before Six'.  Not half bad in a 'group of friends just jamming' fashion.

- 'So Much a Man Can Take' started out as a funeral march, quickly picking up speed.  The lead vocal was somewhat in tune, though the harmony vocals were actually quite good.

- Major Lance's 'Monkey Time' is such a good song that you'd be hard pressed to do a bad version.  This version won't make you forget the original, but it wasn't bad.  Would've been fun to hear them do this one in a club.

- Ah, time for the big show stopping ballad - 'I Do Love You'.  zzzzzzzzzzzzz

- In spite of the Alvin and the Chipmunks introduction and some hyper-active horns, their Young Rascals cover was probably the standout performance.  'Good Lovin'' actually managed to generate a little bit of heat and energy.

- 'Stubborn Kind of Fellow' was also pretty good, but clocking in at under two minutes it was over in a flash.

- And let's go out on a rocker 'Land of 1000 Dances'.  The highlight on this one was the post-production reverb which made the song sound like it had been recorded in an echo chamber.  Funny !


Certainly not the best Justice release and certainly not the worst.  It would make by top-10 Justice releases.


"Real Live Girl" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Real Live Girl - 2:30

2.) Get Ready - 2:20

3.) Ooh Baby Baby - 2:55

4.) May I - 2:15

5.) Beg Me - 2:35

6.) Before Six (instrumental) - 2:20


(side 2)
1.) So Much a Man Can Take - 2:05

2.) Monkey Time - 2:03

3.) I Do Love You - 3:00

4.) Good Lovin - 2:25

5.) Stubborn Kind of Fellow - 1:50

6.) Land of 1000 Dances - 2:20