THE MELLOMEN with THURL RAVENSCROFT: The Mellomen were a popular singing quartet from the late 1940s through the mid-1970s. The group was founded by Thurl Ravenscroft and Max Smith in 1948 and The Mellomen recorded under a variety of names: Big John & The Buzzards, The Crackerjacks, The Lee Brothers, and The Ravenscroft Quartet.
Thurl Ravenscroft himself is famously known as the voice of "Tony the Tiger" (they're GREAT!) and also for singing "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" in the original animated "How The Grinch Stole Christmas."
The group were sometimes credited as The Mellowmen, The Mello Men, or The Mellow Men. They sang backup to Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Arlo Guthrie, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley, and Jo Stafford.
Their solo work is part of many Disney films, such as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Lady and the Tramp," as well as numerous animated shorts. Their work for Disney also led to numerous television appearances, beginning with the Disneyland television show episode "Cavalcade of Songs," first broadcast February 16, 1955. The Mellomen were featured on Disneyland Records, which released their 1958 album "Meet Me Down on Main Street." They also sang the theme songs for the Disney television shows "Davy Crockett" and "Zorro."
The quartet sang in several films with Elvis Presley, beginning with "It Happened at the World's Fair." The Mellomen backed Elvis on the title song for the film "Roustabout" and most of the soundtrack for "Paradise, Hawaiian Style." In 1969, The Mellomen appeared with Elvis in the film "The Trouble with Girls," playing a gospel group called The Bible Singers.
These recordings in Volume I and II are from 1949 transcription records and exhibit The Mellomen singing in "barbershop" style, just one of the many musical styles they worked in.
The members of The Mellomen at the time were Thurl Ravenscroft (bass), Bill Lee (baritone), Max Smith (2nd tenor) and Bob Hamlin (lead tenor).
BARBERSHOP MUSIC: Barbershop harmony, as codified in the barbershop revival era (1940s-present), is a style of a cappella vocal music characterized by consonant four-part chords for every melody note.
Each of the four parts has its role: generally, the lead sings the melody, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, the bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completes the chord, usually below the lead.
Barbershop music features understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies, whose tones clearly define a tonal center and imply major and minor chords and barbershop (dominant and secondary dominant) seventh chords that resolve primarily around the circle of fifths. Barbershop also features a symmetrical form and a standard meter. The song and its harmonization are embellished to provide appropriate support of the song's theme and close the song effectively.
Singing in the barbershop style requires a high degree of vocal skill, and a high level of unity within the ensemble. Ideally, these elements are natural, un-manufactured, and free from apparent effort.