Vito & the Salutations
Vito & the Salutations (Brooklyn, New-York)
Vito Balsamo (Lead)
Randy Silverman (Lead / First Tenor)
Shelly Buchansky (First / Second Tenor)
Lenny Citrin (Baritone)
Frankie Fox (Bass)
1962 - Gloria / Let's Untwist The Twist (Rayna 5009/Red Boy 5009)
1962 - Your Way / hey, Hey baby (Kram 1202/5002)
1963 - Unchained Melody / Hey, Hey Baby (Herald 583)
1963 - Extraordinary Girl / Eenie Meenie (Herald 586)
1964 - Liverpool Bound / Can I Depend On You (Wells 1008)
1964 - Don't Count On Me / Day O (Wells 1010)
1964 - Girls I Know / Get a Job (Regina 1320)
1965 - Walkin' / High Noon (Apt 25079)
1966 - Bring Back Yesterday / I Want You To Be My Baby (Boom 60020)
1966 - So Wonderful (My Love) / I'd Best Be Going (Red boy 1001/Sandbag 103)
1966 - Can I Depend On You / Hello Dolly (Rust 5106)
1961 - I Look At The Moon
1962 - Keep A Light In The Window (Rayna)
1962 - Be My Girlfriend (Kram)
The Salutations were originally a group from the Brownsville and Canarsie sections of Brooklyn who became known for reviving standards in a most unorthodox way. Sometime in 1961, Bob De Pallo, Barry Solomon, and a long-since-forgotten third harmonizer were heard singing in a New York subway station (the Big Apple's stations are known for their natural echo-and not much else). The lady who listened was one Linda Scott, who recommended the singers to producer Dave Rick.
Dave was holding auditions in three days and invited them down, putting Bob and Barry in the position of having to quickly put together a real group. Bob's younger brother played him a demo by neighborhood 14-year-old Vito Balsamo, and De Pallo tracked the teen to P. S. 230 to offer him the lead singing spot. Vito agreed and brought along baritone Bobby Mitchell. The group rehearsed with one day left and instantly became Vito and the Salutations after the line in disc jockey "Jocko" Henderson's nightly opening patter, "Greeting and salutations, ooh-pooh-pa-doo."
On the day of the audition, they were the last of 20 acts to perform for Dave Rick, but they caught his ear with a version of THE CRESTS' "My Juanita." In December 1961 the group went into ODO Studios and recorded several songs. One of them came from a last-minute suggestion by Big Top Records exec David Mook, who heard the group warming up with the CADILLACS classic "Gloria" and recommended they cut it.
It became their first single in February 1962 and was a big New York favorite even though the Passions had cut a ballad version of it only a year before. The label issuing "Gloria," Rayna Records, had no real distribution or marketing capability beyond New York and the boys soon became disenchanted with them. Group members De Pallo, Solomon, and Mitchell departed. Vito then built a new and improved Salutations with Randy Silverman (lead and first tenor), Shelly Buchansky (first and second tenor) Lenny Citrin (baritone), and Frankie Fox (bass).
The Salutations could usually be found harmonizing in the bathroom of their school, Jefferson High. At the time they were heavily influenced by the black groups of the mid- and late '50s like The Heartbeats, the Cadillacs, The Flamingos, and The Moonglows, so it was no surprise that songs by these groups (such as "Gloria') would become a staple of their repertoire. Dave Rick took them to another tiny label, Kram, for a single on the Heartbeats gem "Your Way" became an instant collectible.
In 1963 Rick took the boys to Al Silver's Herald Records, a label with proven power among indies. The group then decided to rearrange the oldies they were doing in a more attention-getting manner. The standard "Unchained Melody" received a Salutations triple-time treatment with exaggerated bass and falsetto parts that could have been forerunners of The Four seasons' pseudonymous group the Wonder Who ("Don't Think Twice," Philips, 1965).
In the summer, "Unchained Melody" hit the airwaves and went top 10 in many cities. The rapid fire bass solo in the bridge and a modulation were just two of the record's many vocal gimmicks, and on October 26, 1963, "Unchained" charted nationally, rising to number 66.
A similarly styled original called "Extraordinary Girl" followed in early 1964 and airplay was instantaneous. Unfortunately, Herald was on the verge of folding and could not promote it.
The next stop was Wells Records, where the quintet tried unsuccessfully to ride along with the British invasion with "Liverpool Bound" and then followed with a wild reworking of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat (Day-0 )," both arranged by Norm Bergen (who later arranged many of the Dawn hits).
Thanks mainly to "Unchained Melody," the group worked steadily in nightclubs and did a few Murray the K shows and Clay Cole and Dick Clark TVers. They performed with Marvin Gaye, Dionne Warwick, Jay and the Americans, The Tokens, and The Ronettes. A 1962 appearance at Harlem's Roosevelt Theatre had them backed by a young blind guitarist named Jose Feliciano.
Releases on Regina ("Get a Job," THE SILHOUETTES), Apt ("High Noon," a radical reworking of the western movie title song), and Red Boy ("So Wonderful," a blues ballad) did little and brought them up to their last single on Rust, a hilarious harmony-filled version of "Hello Dolly" that would have had Louis Armstrong gasping for breath to keep up. The group disbanded around 1965.
Vito joined the Kelloggs, who sang on a morning TV show in Philadelphia and had a 1969 single on Laurie called "Snap, Crackle and Pop."
Jay Warner (American singing groups: a history from 1940s to today)
1963 - Unchained Melody (and interview)
(updated by Hans-Joachim)
Hello Dolly Unchained Melody Gloria
Extraordinary Girl Keep A Light In The Window Let's Untwist The Twist
Hey, Hey Baby Eenie Meenie Liverpool Bound
Don't Count On Me Walkin' I Want You To Be My Baby
So Wonderful I'd Best Be Going Can I Depend On You
Be My Girlfriend I Look At The Moon Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)
Girls I Know Get A Job High Noon
Bring Back Yesterday Your Way
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