Ten Records That Shook The World - (part two)
6.) Earth Angel - The Penguins (Dootone) 1954. This archetype ballad of the golden age of vocal group singing had all the elements for this point in time (the fall of 1954) when the R & B explosion came home for good. The pounding piano triplets, the accented 2/4 beat, and the dead-on vocal lead of Cleveland Duncan were the features that made for great listening. This record appealed to listeners across the entire spectrum of regions, age, race, and sex. The original was so good that a successful cover was not possible. The unique name of both the song and the group also helped secure this recording a place in history. It has stood the test of time and has endured at or very near the top of every survey ever taken concerning this music. The appeal of the catchy flip side ("Hey Senorita"), in no small part also propelled this side to unimaginable heights of popularity.
7.) Why Do Fools Fall In Love - The Teenagers (Gee) 1956 - The effect of this single release cannot be overestimated. Here for the first time it was proven that the new music that was taking over the world could reach success performed by teens for teens. The rock & roll explosion was now finally in the hands of the American teenager. This record, in no small detail, showed the powers that controlled the music industry that the wave of the future was in the youth of the world. The music had been transformed from a Black urban voice by and for adults, to the voice of young America. With the worldwide hit potential, The Teenagers and their talented lead singer and writer Frankie Lymon, were now the wave of the future in American popular music. Its success certainly defined the primary consumer and the American teenager, like the name of the group, was the focus from this time on.
8.) At The Hop - Danny & The Juniors (Singular) 1957 - The MelloKings came along too early for American Bandstand, but not this quartet. The first White group to sing in a decidedly R & B style unlike the sounds from the Four Lads, The Crewcuts, The Four Coins and others, the Juniors were an immediate hit on Dick Clark's national TV show from coast to coast. The demand for their record was so great that the Philly independent Singular label sold the master to ABC records who pressed and distributed the monster hit. Now teenagers from everywhere gave it a shot as the success of this record led to a generalization of the music style and White pop vocal groups sprang up everywhere. The look and style of this Philadelphia quartet obliterated many musical barriers both real and imaginary.
9.) There Goes My Baby - The Drifters (Atlantic) 1959 - This landmark recording heralded a new era in the performance of the R & B vocal groups. For the first time a hit record featured the symphonic sound (some call it bombast) of dramatic strings against the sounds of voices in harmony. A young apprentice producer named Phil Spector sat in with Leiber and Stoller while this record was being produced. The sound of this record took the vocal group style into new and uncharted territory. It was a gamble but one that worked. Record buyers liked the new dramatic shadings of the song and responded by making the Drifter's tune a huge hit. Vocal group stylings would never be the same again. Although there were some late 50s early 60s vocal group efforts that retained the classic styles, the stage was set to take the sound up to a newer and higher level. This important influence lasted for many years.
10.) My Girl - The Temptations (Gordy) 1964 - Another turn in the styles of the sound of the vocal groups took place in late '64 with the release of this record by the vast Motown empire. The smooth harmonies and three part "chime" runs made the Temptations world famous. This performance delineated the style of the modern vocal group which remained the norm throughout the 60s and most of the 70s until the explosion of the hip hop style leading to rap. At the time the release of this recording signalled an alternative to the growing British invasion sound and the late 60s psychedelic musical movement. The visual effect of the group and the talent of its two lead singers, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, made the group a favorite of the mid 60s TV shows featuring pop music such as Shindig, Hullabaloo, Shivaree, and that old standby, American Bandstand. The recording of "My Girl" stands as a landmark sound of the nineteen sixties and perhaps the manifestation of the last innovation in the history of the R & B vocal group.
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