SPANISH HARLEM * BEN E. KING * LONDON ATLANTIC 9258 * UK
Spanish Harlem is Ben E. King's first solo release in the UK, in the USA it was released on Atco 6158 (see below) and was the follow up to his debut Brace Yourself Atco 6166. Ben E. King had previously sung lead on only eleven Drifters sides but has remained the most well known individual name from the group, two tracks were released only after he had left the group to go solo, one of which was Save The Last Dance For Me!
Spanish Harlem was an enormous hit with the post Teddy Boy and Girl youth in the UK at the start of a new decade; the track was exactly what the 1950s music was not, whereas Rock and Roll (at least the little they got to hear from the States) represented a wild and aggressive rejection of all pre and immediate post WW11 values, this new music was the next step on the road to liberation, it was cool, confident and sophisticated, and was just how those young boys and girls saw themselves. Added to the sound was the exotic and colorful notion of a place called Spanish Harlem, this location, also known as El Barrio, officially designated as East Harlem, would have been unfamiliar to British audiences and consequently gave the song an air of mystery and enchantment not found in home grown product. The song has become so familiar that not only is the original production (Phil Spector) lost its distinction, but the mystery of its location, and even to some extent (temporarily) the incredibly beautiful voice of Ben E. King have all lost their initial impact.
SPANISH HARLEM * BEN E. KING * ATCO 6185 * USA
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