Leo Wright and his El-Jays made a couple of very good 45s in the 60s, but it seems that the vocal group crowd are the only ones to latch on to him, which is a pity. Is It I may well have a doo wop structure and some fine harmony background singing but Wright has plenty of soul touches to his vocal, which is all grit and determination. Lovely warm tone too. The flip “I Wonder” is very similar in style but doesn’t quite hit the spot as the chord changes aren’t quite as good. Wright’s Perico offering has a great gospel styled workout on it – though you might not guess it from the title “Bops-A-Bops Love”. My preference is for I Pretend And Cry, another very tasty ballad with some class hollering from Wright, especilally the falsetto whoops. The sound of this track is so close to the CB release that they may well have been cut at the same session. The other 45 on Perico by Eddie Wood is also worth investigating.
UPDATE ~ Bob McGrath of the R & B Indies has kindly been in touch about further recordings by Leo Wright. He has reminded me that Wright led the Exciting Changes on their excellent "Falling In Love Again which you can find here. Bob also says that Wright led the Four Puzzles on their Fat Back 45. The details are
Especially for you baby / Right or wrong (good or bad) ~ FAT BACK 215 (1967)
I've dug the 45 out and neither side are of the quality of Wright's other releases, although "Right Or Wrong" is a strong ballad rather let down by by a lack of melody and some ill-judged chord changes. Wright is as good as ever though. Both tracks can be found on the Ace UK CD "Fatback's Soul Shop" which also has an unissued Four Puzzles track "I Need You" on it. Sadly this doesn't do much for me either.
I'm grateful to Bob as usual for sharing his info so readily.
UPDATE ~ Jeff Beckman of the excellent Soul Harmony Singles book writes:-
Regarding Leo Wright & The El Jays: an acquaintance of mine, one of the members of the group, gave me the following personnel: Leo Wright (lead), Joe DeStio (first tenor), Ralph Verrone (second tenor), Wayne Vandwayne (baritone), Pat Butram (bass). All members except Wright were Caucasian. I don't believe they were the group on Perico, just CB, but, quite frankly, I never really asked. It just sounds to me like the Perico group is a different group. I can't ask about this as the member I know has relocated to Florida and I have no contact information.
I'm very grateful to Jeff for sharing this excellent info.