Like their Laurie label mates Dion and the Belmonts, the vocal group The Mystics can be classified as a white doowop ensemble. They grew up in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn, New York, where they attended the same school. In 1957 Contrera, Ferrante, Albee Cracioli, Tony Armato and Joe Strobel formed the Overons. They won a local talent contest, soon after which Armato and Strobel decided to quit and were replaced by George Galfo and Albee's brother Phil. They auditioned for several record labels, but were not going anywhere until they made a demo record that was heard by Jim Gribble, who managed the Classics, the Fiestas and the Passions. Gribble secured the group a contract with Laurie Records in early 1959. Around that time they also changed their name from the Overons to the Mystics.
As the group had no original material, Laurie's founder, Gene Schwartz, commissioned the songwriting duo of Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman* to write a song for the Mystics. They came up with "A Teenager In Love", a song so good that Laurie Records decided it should be given to a "name" act, in this case Dion and the Belmonts, who scored a Top 5 hit with it. To placate the quintet, Laurie asked Pomus and Shuman to hammer out something else for the Mystics, in the style of "Little Star" by the Elegants. The Schwartz brothers (Gene and Bob) felt that a song in that style would work perfectly for the Mystics' soft harmonies. Within days, Doc and Mort brought in "Hushabye", which became the group's first record (Laurie 3028). The backing was supplied by some of New York's top session men, like Al Caiola, Bucky Pizzarelli and Panama Francis. Released in May, it reached # 20 on the Billboard chart in mid-1959. The song has become something of a classic and was revived in the 1960s by the Beach Boys (on their "All Summer Long" LP) and Jay and the Americans.
The follow-up, "Don't Take the Stars", was a nice rock-a-ballad in the same celestial style, but stalled at # 98 on the charts. Even worse, their next four singles failed to do any chart business at all, in spite of the benefit of backup vocals by a young Paul Simon (on their third 45, "All Through the Night"/"To Think Again Of You"). A remake of the Harptones' "A Sunday Kind of Love" would be the last Laurie release for the Mystics and by mid-1961 their record career was all but over. All of the original Mystics except George Galfo found employment as engineers in the New York area. John Tarangelo replaced Galfo for a reunion of the group in 1981, which led to an LP on Ambient Sound that featured a new version of "Hushabye".
Currently there are two active versions of the Mystics, one incorporating the Cracolici brothers with Ken Filmer, the other being "George Galfo's Mystics" (George Galfo, Mike Miller, Joe Neary, Joel Starr), who are operating from Florida and released a CD ("Hushabye Again") in 2004.
More info: http://www.themystics.biz/
CD : 16 Golden Classics (Collectables, 1991).
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