A welcome re-press for this collection of early Champs' material, featuring As and Bs from the first fifteen singles between 1958-1961, including Tequila, El Rancho Rock, Chariot Rock, Too Much Tequila and Sombrero. This package includes highly informative notes.
Their debut single was a memorable one as Tequila soared to # 1 Pop (where it stayed for 5 weeks) and # 1 R&B (4 weeks) in early 1958 b/w Train To Nowhere on Challenge 1016. That, however, not only turned out to be a tough act to follow, but the group suddenly began making personnel changes as both Hils and Bruce were replaced by Joe Burnas and Dale Norris for the next release, Maybelle b/w Take This Love on Challenge 1018 billed as Dave Burgess & The Champs. It would be the only time they tried that billing, and for some reason that is left out of this compilation.
For their next release the revamped group chose the old standard Alla En El Rancho Grande, which had been a hit for Bing Crosby way back in 1939, and in June had it go to # 10 R&B and # 30 Pop as El Rancho Rock b/w Midnighter, which also charted at # 94 Pop on Challenge 59007. Then, following the same pattern of resurrecting old tunes, they next hit with Chariot Rock, based on the spiritual Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, which made it to # 59 Pop in late summer 1958 b/w Subway on Challenge 59018.
Shortly after, following some friction, more changes ensued as both Flores and Alden were asked to leave the band, being replaced by saxophonist Jimmy Seals and drummer Dash Crofts (who would form the team Seals & Crofts in the 1970s). But they wouldn't hit the charts again until early 1960 as five straight releases all failed to make any national charts (Turnpike/Rockin' Mary, Gone Train/Beatnik, Caramba/Moonlight Bay, Night Train/The Rattler and Sky High/Double Take - all presented here in order and showing label details - for those released in the U.K. they also show the London label details).
Then, reverting to their debut hit, they cut Too Much Tequila and saw it top out at # 30 Pop in February 1960 b/w Twenty Thousand Leagues on Challenge 59063. It would then be another two years and 6 more singles before they reached the Hot 100 again (Red Eye/The Little Matador, Alley Cat/Coconut Drive, Tough Train/The Face, Hokey Pokey/Jumping Bean, Sombrero/The Shoddy Shoddy and Cantina/Panic Button - again, all presented here in order. It was also in this period that Glen Campbell joined the band as a guitarist.
You must, however, also buy their other CD in the singles series, The Later Years, in order to get their last 3 hits along with the rest of their failed singles for Challenge to 1965. Here you get 5 pages of liner notes written by Dave Burke and Roy Simonds of the U.K. publication, Pipeline Magazine, mixed with some poster and chart insert reproductions. The sound quality is excellent.
One can only conclude that someone at Ace has an abiding admiration for The Champs as they have released no less than 5 different CDs on the group, this one which came out in 1996 and 1997's The Later Singles, as well as the 1993 release Wing Ding which contains a mix of 28 singles, album cuts and unreleased material, the CD Tequila in 2004, again with a mix of 22 singles/album sides, and a 2006 release of the 12-track original 1958 Challenge LP CHL-601 Go Champs Go.
A bit of overkill perhaps for a group with a modest history of hits at best, but if you remember and loved this band from your youth you can certainly get your fill from Ace.