DOO WOP IN ’59 (Segue of the Day: 12/22/16)

There are times when I listen to Doo Wop and wonder why I ever listen to anything else. The silly music often renders everything else silly by comparison.

And anytime I get a notion I know something about it, something about the form itself or the larger context in which it either grew from or birthed the air around it (depending on whether you’re in the mood to argue for the chicken or the egg), all I have to do is sit with it a while and I’m readily disabused.

Take this little volume, where thirty-four cuts, from a single twelve-month period that kicked off the age of rock n roll’s supposed “nadir,” yield a dozen or more one-offs that concede nothing to the famous names which here included the Clovers, Coasters, Drifters, Belmonts, Isley Brothers, Dells, Shirelles, Little Anthony.

Some of those one-offs were big national hits, or have become sufficiently known through famous covers that they may as well have been: “Sea of Love,” “Hushabye,” “Hully Gully.”

And then some have remained hidden, waiting in the ether for obsessives in foreign lands (Germany, in this case) to give them a new context. Something like this, which, if it had hit, might have taken Motown in a whole other direction:

And even that wasn’t as startling as the two records by famous names that didn’t hit either, but here live to leave the present speechless in wonder, not because they are better than what surrounds them, but because, shockingly, they aren’t.


2 thoughts on “DOO WOP IN ’59 (Segue of the Day: 12/22/16)

  1. DISAB– USE 101: I don’t think I ever met a “doo-wop” collector who collected “Sea of Love,” “Hushabye,” or “Hully Gully.” Why? Maybe ’cause they ain’t doo-wop? Or weren’t once upon a time, until the record people who have forever f*cked up the meaning of “alternate” got their hands on “doo-wop.”

    Then there’s the eternally unanswered question: Who put the “yada” in the “Yada yada blah blah”?

    PS: I’m still recovering from prolonged exposure to Dolly, Linda, and Emmylou—which i blame on you …

    • I think “doo wop” tends to be used the way “girl group” is used…arbitrarily by white boy critics to mean whatever they want it to mean. I prefer the broadest possible definition myself, the more the merrier. I get why actual collectors are persnickety. We all like to live in our own little worlds sometimes. But I’m suspicious of them as wants to control the Narrative!

      And with all that’s going on in this world, you should be thankful if you an’t suffering from anything worse than prolonged exposure to the Trio!

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