Great music, great voices, never die. The original members of the group that crooned such hits as “Only You,” “The Great Pretender,” “Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” are long gone. But at the Newport Performing Arts Theater in Pasay City Wednesday last week, another group that took on the name was busy keeping the tunes immortal, and the audience in wistful reminiscence.
The World Famous Platters (WFP), whose members Eddie Stovall Sr. and son Eddie Jr., Lawrence “Rooster” Lockard, Yolanda Fletcher and Jerrad “JT” Tilley were either still young (maybe even unborn) at the time the original Platters were riding the stars, satisfyingly recaptured the spirit, romance and vocal dynamics of Tony Williams, Herb Reed, David Lynch, Paul Robi and Zola Taylor—the most successful composition of the group which produced 40 hit singles that made it to the Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1955 and 1967.
However, WFP didn’t limit itself to The Platters hits. It also performed medleys of the Ben E. King original “Stand By Me,” Sam Cooke’s “Cupid,” Burt Bacharach’s “One Less Bell to Answer” and Mack Rice’s “Mustang Sally.” They also sang a tribute to the Motown sound, a medley of The Temptations’ “The Way You Do the Things You Do” and “My Girl,” Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To be Loved by You),” and Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch).”
Eddie Sr. and Jr. shared singing chores on many of The Platters’ hits (“Only You,” “Twilight Time,” “Remember When,” “I’m Sorry,” “Harbor Lights,” and “The Magic Touch”), with the elder Eddie showing off a bit more of the raspy vocals a la James Brown in his cover of “Mustang Sally.” But it was relative newcomer JT who ran the show—meaning, he went down to the audience to deliver, up close and personal, the songs “You’ll Never, Never Know,” “With This Ring,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and the finale “The Great Pretender.”
JT even asked a lady from the audience to go up the stage with him. On his knees, he sang “My Prayer” to this Bicolana named Maria. Lucky girl.
Yolanda showed off her own singing chops in “He’s Mine,” “Red Sails in the Sunset,” and “One Less Bell to Answer.”
And though “Rooster” Lockard didn’t have any solo singing parts, his baritone was omnipresent, and as he handed roses to the ladies at the front rows, he delivered this amusing monologue to intro “The Great Pretender,” complete with the soundtrack “Cotton’s Theme” of the 1970s TV soap “The Young and the Restless” playing in the background: “Baby, oh baby, I love only you… And with this rose, I love you a thousand times… You have the magic touch, the guiding light… You and I, we had the days of our lives, up in Subic Bay. We were out on Sunset Beach, watching the red sails in the sunset, the harbor lights. Yesterday, my prayers were answered. Yes, you’re bold and you’re beautiful, young and restless. And that’s why you met your husband today. Surrounded by all my children, with one less life to live. And all because you were the great pretender.”
The Internet generation would have punctuated that with “Boom!” But the World Famous Platters ended it where the originals all began, with “Oh, yes!”