The flexible, indeed slippery vocalistEddie Hall
was a member of the Kirby Stone Four
, a highly original vocal group that cut several albums in the late '50s and early '60s. Besides Hall
and leader Stone
, the other members of the quartet were Larry Foster
and Mike Gardner
. The group was known for a so-called "hip" style of joking which was combined with a low-key but swinging musical style in which uptempo rhythms dominated. The Kirby Stone Four
became a hit as a vocal foursome, but actually started out in a more normal instrumental combo. The novelty of leaving the instruments at home helped the group succeed, since it immediately eliminated quite a bit of competition. Great talent is needed to pull off such a musical venture, however, as good tone and delivery come much less easily out of human vocal chords than a plugged-in bass or a piano keyboard, especially when neither is available to provide accompaniment or fill in the holes. Hall
and his partners seemed to be judged as having what it takes, as the group rose from steady nightclub engagements and local television appearances to a 1958 triumph on the Ed Sullivan Show.
This was a program that the Columbia A&R staff watched religiously, resulting in a contract to release Man, I Flipped...When I Heard the Kirby Stone Four. Standards such as "S'Wonderful" were part of the repertoire, but there was also original material including a tune that spotlighted well-done vocal impersonations by one member. The single "Baubles, Bangles and Beads" hit the Top 30, with the album it was culled from going even higher. The group's material tended to be ambitious, and perhaps the most complicated project was Guys and Dolls (Like Today), a 1962 reworking of the Broadway hit in which leader Stone
boldly attempted to make the cast or any visual aspect of the show unnecessary.