What do you get when you take five former members of one of Beach Music’s legendary bands, The Embers: Embers co-founder Jackie Gore, veteran members Gerald Davis (who was The Embers musical director for many years) and Johnny Barker (producer, arranger, song writer, and who performed two stints with the band) and former tenured members: the versatile and talented Jeff Grimes and Mark Black, add veteran drummer Tony Davis who has played with several top bands in the business and killer horns from Rusty Smith and Jason Moore? You get The Legends of Beach and their debut self-titled CD. With production handled by Barker, Davis, Black and Grimes, you know this is going to be a CD that will get some attention. Thirteen tracks, including four new originals adorn this project. “Feels Like The Real Thing”, written by Johnny Barker, is first up. This is their theme song, with Jackie, Johnny, Mark and Jeff sharing lead lines and Gerald coming in with the bass to round it out. This was released last month on a sampler CD and has already been getting requests on the air and in the clubs. “Far Away Places” has been a staple in Beach Music since it was first released on the MGM label in 1969. Jackie sang lead then, and he does so again on this refreshed version arranged by Johnny Barker. The first original on this project is Mark Black’s “I Picked A Bad Time For Me To Get Old” which he ably handles lead vocals. I saw them perform this in Raleigh, and it got great reaction on the dance floor. Jackie’s back with “I’m Gonna Do Beautiful Things For You”, which is a “Jackie Classic”. He follows that with a very shag-friendly “Begin The Beguine”, again arranged by Johnny Barker. I love to hear Jeff Grimes sing and he nails the bluesy “I Ain’t Got Nothin’ To Lose”, another Mark Black penned tune. Smooth has been one of the adjectives to describe Johnny Barker’s singing and arranging. His rendition of “Summer Wind” goes beyond smooth. It’s in a great shag groove for those who like, dare I say, “smoothies”. In 1975 Barker wrote one of Beach Music’s all-time hits, “Summertime’s Calling Me” when he was a member of The Catalinas. It’s only fitting that this classic would be included here with lead vocals by Jackie. “Livin’ Here, Loving Her Is Killin’ Me” is one you can do some serious slow dancing to. It’s got a soulful groove that is hip to the modern R&B sound. Penned by Mark, he also takes the lead with awesome guitar licks courtesy of Jeff. Cash McCall has been one of my favorite singers for years. Jackie Gores does great justice to his “Let’s Get A Thing Going On”. This is another one that should find favor with the dancers. Next we have a re-working of “Street Corner Serenade” with Mark on lead and great harmonies backing him up. Jeff Grimes shows his “laid back style” with his delivery of “Until The Real Thing Comes Along”. Capping off this collection of classics and possible future classics is Jackie singing a song he wrote in 1979 and recorded with The Embers, “I Love Beach Music”, one of the most played Beach Music tunes in the history of the genre. If you are a fan of the “Classic-Embers’ Sound” you will love this CD. If you are a fan of Beach Music, you will find something here I know you will like. If you are a DJ, you need this in your collection. Released during SOS, availability should not be a problem.

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