The Crew-Cuts were a four-man group from Canada who had their first top ten record in 1954 with Crazy ‘Bout You Baby. The group wrote the song themselves and performed it as a cross between a barbershop song and a big band tune.
The group really hit it big later that year. The R&B group the Chords wrote and recorded Sh Boom. They took the record up to number two on the R&B charts and number nine on the pop charts. The Crew-Cuts recorded a more vanilla version of the song and it sat at number one for almost two months. After that, the group began to focus on covering R&B songs.
In late 1954, the Penguins recorded one of the pivotal records of the doo-wop era, Earth Angel. Their version reached number eight on the pop charts and once again the Crew-Cuts covered the song in a more traditional way and reached number three on the charts. On the plus side, the Penguin version is estimated to have sold at least ten million copies.
Next up in 1955 was Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So). The original R&B version was by Gene and Eunice, but the Crew-Cuts were not alone in covering the record: the biggest hit version was recorded by Perry Como.
Don’t Be Angry was a number 2 R&B and #25 pop hit for Nappy Brown, and the Crew-Cuts covered the song and did mildly better, peaking at #14.
A Story Untold may well present the most striking difference between the original song and the cover version. The Crew-Cuts version of the song sounds reasonable, but only until you hear the original version by the Nutmegs. While the Nutmegs’ version only charted on the R&B charts (getting to #2), the Crew-Cuts version barely reached the top twenty on the pop charts. Clearly, a lot was lost when the song was “converted” to a more pop-oriented style.
The Crew-Cuts managed one last hit in 1955 with the top ten cover of the Otis Williams and the Charms’ recording of Gum Drop. They had a few more records that reached the top twenty, but by early 1957 their charting days had come to an end.