Monday, April 15, 2013

The Four Freshman--Graduation Day (1956)

     On hearing the song, "Graduation Day" by the Four Freshman, it's hard to distinguish them from many of the other male quartets during their day. However, their sound overall was more complex, and the group much more of an entertainment act than just the combination of their voices. For us here at the bus, they are remembered as an example of musicians who prove that you never know who you might be influencing along the way. It was those voices, and harmonies that would be heard for decades afterward because of one man: Brian Wilson .
     Just like any teenager of his day, Wilson was enthused and excited over the sounds coming out of the radio, especially Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. However, the Four Freshman utterly fascinated him. Not just the combination of voices, but how they could be so tightly packed between them, but still with the freedom born of jazz musicians to take those harmonies and meander about with them.
     The group itself began in the late 40's and that era of music continued to inform their music throughout the 50's. Pop laced with jazz overtones was complimented with a series of singers (22 combinations in their history) who were also all multi-instrumentalists which allowed for a myriad of different combinations. They had a polished stage act which was also an influence on 60's groups like, Spanky and Our Gang, and later in the 70's with Manhattan Transfer.
     Because they were as much an entertainment package as they were straight up pop singers their influence went much farther than most of their peers.

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