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The Wrens (Doo-Wop)

The Wrens were one of the best of the dozens of R&B vocal groups who recorded in the mid- to late '50s for George Goldner, signed to his Rama and Gee labels in the wake of his success with "Gee" by the Crows. Lead singer Bobby Mansfield, George Magnezid (tenor), Francis "Frenchie" Concepcion (tenor), and James "Archie" Archer (bass) first started singing together in 1954 at a community center in the Bronx, NY. There they were spotted by Fred Johnson, a promoter who organized local talent shows, and he offered to manage the quartet. The Wrens were known best for their smooth, elegant harmony singing, which elevated both their ballads and their jump numbers above much of the competition. They sang R&B, but it tended more toward mature ballads and serious jump songs, rather than teen novelties.

Johnson got the group an audition with George Goldner's Rama Records and a recording contract followed late in 1954, with the group's first session taking place on November 21 of that year. Fred Johnson played piano behind them on that session and Goldner produced; in later recordings, legendary saxman Jimmy Wright led the band that backed them up. The group's first released single was "Love's Something Made for Two" b/w "Beggin' for Love," featuring Mansfield and Concepcion, respectively. It was their second single, "Come Back My Love," however, that achieved some local popularity in New York early in 1955 and put the Wrens on the map for R&B vocal fans. At their best, the Wrens sounded a lot like the Moonglows -- Mansfield's singing at times bore a striking resemblance to Harvey Fuqua of the latter group, and both outfits were at their best doing mid-tempo jump numbers and ballads, though the Wrens' records also had a hard edge from Wright's sax and the bold sound of the Rama house band under his leadership.

Goldner issued a total of six singles by the Wrens, but they never enjoyed a bigger hit than "Come Back My Love," which became their signature song despite competition from a cover version done by the Cardinals on Atlantic that same year. By 1956, however, Bobby Mansfield had split off from the group for a solo career, during which he made some records for Goldner with the Supremes (the male R&B vocal group, not the Motown trio) backing him. The Wrens disappeared into the mists of R&B vocal group history, while Mansfield remained active into the 1990s, even recording with a new group of "Wrens" in the middle of the decade. The original Wrens all lived long enough to see themselves inducted into the United Group Harmony Association's Hall of Fame in 1998. Collectables Records issued a collection of the Wrens' recordings in the early '90s and England's Westside label followed this up in 2000 with Strictly for the Birds, compiling the Wrens' and the Crows' material on one CD. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Encyclopedia Of Doo Wop: Volume 5

Disc 1

2. They Say

3. Is There A Love For Me

5. Cruise To The Moon

6. Lamplight

7. Alphabet Of Love

8. Cry Like I Cried

9. Stormy Weather

10. Runaround

11. I'll Pray For You

12. Wedding Bells

17. Angel Face

18. Crazy For You

19. Ding Dong

20. There Goes My Girl

21. Heaven Above Me

23. Darling Can't You Tell

24. Rip Van Winkle

25. Let It Please Be You

Disc 2

1. Zoom

2. Little Girl Of Mine

3. Im Not A Know It All

4. Your Way

5. Rendezvous With You

6. I Cried My Heart Out

7. Sympathy

8. Too Young

9. Two People In The World

10. I Talk To My Echo

11. Goodbye To Love

12. I Found

13. Dont Ask Me To Be Lonely

14. Angel In Disguise

15. Shining Star

16. Everybodys Somebodys Fool

17. Natures Creation

19. Baby Baby

20. Ive Got To Have You Baby

21. Rubber Biscuit

24. Thats The Way It Goes

25. He's Gone

Disc 3

1. Gee

2. I Won't Be The Fool Anymore

3. Baby

4. Traveling Stranger

5. Sugar Sugar

6. Goodbye To Love

7. Our Love Will Never End

9. Dream

10. On Sunday Afternoon

11. Every Night

12. Woo Woo Train

13. You Are So Beautiful

15. That's My Desire

16. I Found Out Why

17. Be Sure My Love

18. Paper Castles

19. You Can Come If You Want To

21. You Baby You

23. China Doll

24. Don't Say Goodnight

25. Forever

Disc 4

1. A Thousand Miles Away

2. Little Boy Blue

3. String Around My Heart

4. The Shrine Of St. Cecelia

5. Beside My Love

6. I'm Not A Juvenile Delinquent

7. I Love You Darling

8. In My Lonely Room

9. Altar Of Love

10. Summertime

12. You Are

14. Share

15. I Love You So

18. Whisper (Softly)

19. Diamonds & Pearls

20. Snow White

22. Teenage Rock

24. Teenage Love

25. Your Last Chance

Comments

Report as inappropriate
rrosichb
RIP Bobby. Sure miss seeing you when we go up to New York.
Report as inappropriate
marvins39
rip bobby mansfield; great morrisania group
Report as inappropriate
The Wrens are a good group that never got the recognition they should have gotten. :-)

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