This versatile Los Angeles-based vocal group had an intriguing dual career.>From 1955 to 1957 they recorded and performed as both the Cadets and the Jacks, each group with its own hits and each with a distinctly different sound and musicial direction. The group evolved in the late forties from the Santa Monica Soul Seekers, a spiritual group. By 1954, their line-up was : Ted Taylor (first tenor), Willie Davis (first tenor), Aaron Collins (second tenor), Lloyd McGraw (baritone), and Will "Dub" Jones (bass). They signed with Modern Records in 1955 under the name the Jacks. Modern's Joe Bihari renamed them the Cadets and made them Modern's house group for the sole purpose of covering other R&B artists' songs, especially from smaller labels that did not have the strong national distribution that Modern had. Maxwell Davis arranged and Joe Bihari supervised most of the group's sessions.

As a rule, bass singer Dub Jones or Collins sang lead on the recordings by the Cadets (released on Modern) , while tenor Willie Davis fronted the Jacks (released on RPM, Modern's subsidiary). The Cadets did mostly up-tempo material, the Jacks usually recorded R&B ballads. In April 1955, a cover of Nappy Brown's "Don't Be Angry" became the first Cadets single. There would be 14 Cadets releases on Modern until the end of 1957. Their covers were often far better then the originals. This is particularly true of their only national hit (# 4 R&B, # 15 pop), "Stranded In the Jungle", a novelty rocker originally recorded by the Jayhawks for the small Flash label. The Cadets delivered the song with considerably more power and finesse than the Jayhawks, whose version nevertheless reached # 18 on the Billboard charts. Dub Jones sang lead and gave the deadpan performance of his career, but the hook that really differentiated the Cadets' recording from the other versions (there was another cover by the Gadabouts on Mercury) was the "Great googa-mooga, lemme outta here" squeal by substitute tenor Prentice Moreland, who stood in for an absent Ted Taylor. "Stranded" was the only Cadets/Jacks single that saw a UK release (on London HL 8313, September 1956). Other well-known songs covered by the Cadets include "Heartbreak Hotel", "Church Bells May Ring" (Willows) and "Love Bandit" (Johnny 'Guitar' Watson).

The Jacks had far fewer releases, eight altogether, 1955-56. Unlike the Cadets, they usually recorded original material, but their only hit (also their first release as the Jacks) was a cover: "Why Don't You Write Me" (# 3 R&B, # 82 pop). This was a vast improvement on the original version by the Feathers on the Showtime label. The flip, "Smack Dab In the Middle" was actually cut as the Cadets and wound up on their (the Cadets') first LP, "Rockin' And Reelin'", issued in February 1957 (Modern 1215). The Jacks also had an LP released, "Jumping With the Jacks" (RPM 3006). Both LP's were later reissued on Crown, Modern's budget label.

By late 1957, Modern/RPM Records was running into financial trouble and early in 1958, the Cadets, the Jacks and the label itself had passed into the annals of rock 'n' roll history. Aaron Collins and Willie Davis joined the Flairs (who became the Flares in 1960 and scored a big hit with "Foot Stomping" in 1961). Dub Jones joined the Coasters, with whom he scored giant hits like "Yakety Yak", "Charlie Brown", "Along Came Jones" and "Poison Ivy". Ted Taylor embarked upon a solo career, which took some time to take off, but he finally hit the R&B charts in 1965, a feat he would repeat five times, until 1976. He died in a car crash in 1988. Also deceased are Lloyd McCraw (1987), Prentice Moreland (1988), Aaron Collins (1997) and Dub Jones (2000).

Most of the group's recordings are collected on two Ace CD's: The Cadets Meet the Jacks : Stranded In the Jungle (Ace 534, 1994) The Jacks Meet the Cadets : Why Don't You Write Me (Ace 535, 1995).

More info (by Marv Goldberg), including a discography:
Further acknowledgements : Jay Warner, The Billboard books of American Singing Groups (1992), page 84-86 and 228-229. Liner notes by Jim Dawson for the two Ace CD's.


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