Rock an Roll Memoir #8

"Doo Wop?"

Yes, we have to live with the title "Doo Wop" ....until somebody thinks of something better (I wish they would).
To me, a more appropriate label would be "Subway Soul" music. Yes, sometimes the backgound vocals would say "doo wop","dip di dip", and "doo rondy rondy", with an occasional "ah-ung". But that was only a backdrop for the the soulful lead vocals and lilting falsetto embellishments that captivated just about everyone who had an ear to pop radio in the 50's and 60's. Although the lyrics and melody were simple, that may be exactly what made this music a true art form. This music had the power to evoke strong feelings of joy and sorrow, not by what it said, but by how it sounded. The lead singer really believed and lived the basic phrases he or she was singing, and the sincerity made it believable to the listener as well. The group harmony further validated the lyric as true and universal.

In the early fifties, groups of teenagers would gather on streetcorners, boardwalks, in subways, restrooms, and ultimately recording studios, and blend their voices to emulate the great vocal groups of the era. I recall a group from Paterson, NJ- Joel and the Concords, hanging out at the Rahgoo band practices at my Dad's store at Bergen Mall on Sunday when the mall was closed. After practice they would position themselves in the cavernous promenade below, where the accoustics resembled a subway (that's as close as we could get in the suburbs of New Jersey) and they would sing all the accapella standards; Gloria, Sunday Kind of Love, Guardian Angel, and Stormy Weather. They would let me step in for the lead vocal on Valerie (Jackie and the Starlights), only because noone else was crazy enough to get down on their knees and cry. And the old folks passing on their way to the chapel would look at us, horrified as I cried and pleaded to Valerie to "Please come on home". The Rahgoos tried to do the group harmonies with two backup voices, but nothing could compare to the real black (and a handful of white) singing groups of the golden age of Rock and Roll.

Here's my personal required listening list, not in any particular order (limited to 20, Oh, I can think of so many more!!) :

Title                                                    Artist                                            Label

Deserie The Charts Enjoy
The Wind Noland Strong and the Diablos Fortune
Two People in the World Little Anthony and the Imperials End
Florence The Paragons Winley
You Baby You The Cleftones Gee
I'm So Young The Students Checker
Teardrops Lee Andrews and the Hearts Chess
Maybe The Chantels End
My True Story The Jive Five Beltone
Night Owl Tony Allen and the Champs Specialty
I Met Him On a Sunday The Shirelles Decca
Little Darlin' The Gladiolas Excello
Ten Commandments of Love The Moonglows Chess
1000 Miles Away The Heartbeats Hull
Eddie My Love The Teenqueens RPM
The Great Pretender The Platters Mercury
Come Go With Me The DelVikings Decca
This I Swear The Skyliners Calico
Try Me James Brown and the Famous Flames Federal
When You Dance The Turbans Herald

What's your favorite "Doo Wop" record?

Rock and Roll Memoirs