Just a few opinionated thoughts
and asides about the recorded legacy and history of the vocal groups
of the golden era of Rhythm & Blues
. . . . .Was there ever a harder rocking uptempo side produced that could outdo "All Night Long" by The DuMauriers ? The only ones I can think of are "What 'Cha Gonna Do?" by Clyde & The Drifters (and by the way do you notice how they speeded up the last chorus of that tune on the recent CD reissues ? If you have the original 45 or 78, compare the two), "I'm Gonna Ball" by The Wheels, "Fine Young Girl" by The Solitaires, and perhaps "Ooh But She Did" by The El Capris. . . . How about some great opening moments? I love the intros on "Don't Fall In Love" by The Sequins, "Earth Angel" (the original Dootone version) by The Penguins, almost anything by The Moonglows (particularly "Starlight"), The Paragons "The Vows of Love", "Bye Bye Baby" by the Channels, and "When We Get Married" by The Dreamlovers. . . . .and some super closers (not fadeouts) a rarity-"If Teardrops Were Kisses" by The Robins, The Cadillacs "Let Me Explain", "Love Is A Vow" sung by The Mellowharps, "He's Gone" by The Chantels, again anything by The Moonglows (all the 'oowah' finishes), and of course The Lovenotes "United". . . .Some writer once said the difference between the music of the 50s and the more progressive 60s was the honesty and directness of the lyrics of the earlier decade. The greatest example given was Buddy Holly's lines "If you knew Peggy Sue; then you'd know why I feel blue; about Peggy". Fair enough, but how about these winners - "Oh Gee Oh Gosh" by The Kodoks, or "Love Is True" by The Chestnuts, The Keytones "Seven Wonders of the World", "My Dear" by The Solitaires, and "My Faith" by The Fi-Tones . . . . . And we are still searching for the CD of the Four Buddies on Savoy, The Swallows unreleased sides and alternate takes, The Gentlemen on Apollo, and the Acme label compilation . . . . . . .The search still goes on for vintage Moondog and Doctor Jive airchecks from 54 - 55 and anything on WNJR from those years particularly Ramon Bruce . . . . . .How would you like to discover live recordings of the Alan Freed in person shows from 1955-1957 ? What a treasure trove that would be. Never give up hope. They said there were no airchecks of early Elvis on Louisiana Hayride, and those were found one day ! . . . . . .Always like to give a tip of the hat, so to speak, to those great musicians that did backup session work behind the vocal groups back in the 50s. There was Jesse Powell with the Cadillacs on Josie, Howard Biggs with The Harptones, Big Al Sears on most of the Herald and Baton sides, Al Browne on Hull, Jimmy Wright on Gee/Rama, Buddy Lucas on Gone/End, Maxwell Davis and Joe Houston on Modern/RPM/Flair, Arnett Cobb on a lot of the Chicago sides for Chess, and Sam Taylor, Mickey Baker, Haywood Henry, and Van Walls on Atlantic. There were certainly many others known and unknown, that added that extra something to all those great sounds. . . . . . .How about the most "hook" laden record ever? You know a hook is a repetitive musical figure that sticks in your mind long after the song is ended, and most of them are simple or nonsense syllables. How about my candidate for this honor-"Pretty Little Girl" by The Monarchs. This entire record is one hook after another from the "yep yep" bass intro, to the simple one verse lyrics, to the singsong melody and copycat sax break. But it works just perfectly because this silly little tune will stay with you the entire day after a listen or two. And how about that manic out of control piano during the fadeout??? . . . . . Speaking of the piano, has anyone ever identified the piano player (or the drummer for that matter) who play behind Danny & The Juniors original "At The Hop"? What an incredible backup job by these anonymous musicians. Maybe they are known to those with more insight and info than I, but I would sure like to know their identities. . . . . .Would sure like to see a definitive discography of both the vocal groups of the 40s and 50s, and the independent R & B labels of those years. It would certainly be a momentous undertaking but the groundwork has been set by a number of people such as Ferde Gonzalez, Pete Grendysa, Robert Pruter, Marv Goldberg, Jay Warner, Drs. Gribin and Schiff, and so many others. To have a definitive encyclopedia of this music would to me be the ultimate tribute.
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