I've been meaning to get round to going to the annual Doowop weekend in Long Island, New York, for quite a while, and at last I've booked my trip. Since the acts performing there made their names in the fifties and early sixties it's only a matter of time before they won't be around any more. As it is, I'm sure that most of the groups will comprise only one or two original members. But it's a chance to see at least some of the doowop greats at first hand, and the line-up looks highly promising.
On day one (November 3) there's Gene Chandler, the Heartbeats, The Chantels, Fred Parris (Five Satins), the Harptones, the Jive Five, the Penguins, Chuck Weldon (Paradons), the Paragons/Jesters, the Capris, the El Dorados, the Swallows, the Olympics, Dicky Doo & the Don'ts, the Volumes and Lewis Lymon. Day two (November 4) features Kenny Vance & the Planotones, Charlie Thomas' Drifters, the Flamingos, the Diablos, the Dubs, the Fidelities, the Mello Kings, Robin Luke, Maurice Williams, David Somerville (Diamonds), Demensions, Jimmy Clanton, Johnny Tillotson, Norman Fox & the Rob Roys, Brenda Reid (Exciters) and Ronnie Dove.
For my latest Vinyl Obscurities selection I'm featuring original US records by some of the acts on the show, along with links to Youtube. Here goes:
1. Jive Five - My True Story/ When I Was Single. Beltone label
This was released on Parlophone in the UK and valued at £150 in mint condition. Eugene Pitt's superb vocal still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and he's still with the group. A true doowop classic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glOMdK8gfbo
2. The Chantels - Still/ Well I Told You. Carlton label.
The Chantels were the original girl group with some great doowop flavoured records including Maybe, Look In My Eyes and this excellent double sider, which was released on London in the UK (valued at £60). Three of the originals still perform with the group I believe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PUiI0mGR5U
3. The Volumes - I Love You/ Dreams. Chex label.
This great dance record was quite a late doowop effort (released in 1962) and I'm really looking forward to seeing them at the show. Released on Fontana in the UK, this is worth £120 if you're lucky enough to find it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6lTzTinWgM
4. Gene Chandler - Bet You Never Thought/ Baby That's Love. Constellation label
Gene made his name as the Duke of Earl - a classic doowop flavoured number released on Veejay - but made a successful crossover to become a soul favourite with recordings for Constellation, Mercury and Brunswick. This release, which surprisingly wasn't released in the UK at the time, shows off the best of both styles (the B side heavily influenced by Sam Cooke's Havin' a Party). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KObp7F6h_s4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGY2O6BdfP0
5. Robin Luke - Bad Boy/ School Bus Love Affair. Dot label.
Robin Luke sang this rare US cover of a UK song (Marty Wilde's original) when he played Hemsby this year. It wasn't released in the UK at the time, and to tell the truth, it's inferior to Marty's version. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e76y2BR_0N4
6. Lewis Lymon & the Teenchords - Honey honey/ Please Tell The Angels. Fury label.
Frankie's brother only had one single released in the UK and it wasn't this one (see my blog on February 10, 2012) which is surprising because this is a great record, very much in the style made famous by his brother. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1w8APqFK4i8
7. The Flamingos - I Only Have Eyes For You/ At The Prom. End label.
This song was written in 1932 and became one of most famous doowop records of all time as well as one of the most successful. It was released in the UK on Top Rank and is valued at £80. The Flamingos underwent quite a few personnel changes and former members include Tommy Hunt who, like the group, made a successful transition into soul. The present line-up includes at least one original (Zeke Carey). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63nlhoda2MY
8. The Paradons - Diamonds and Pearls/ I Want Love. Milestone label
This California doowop group had their moment in the sun with this one in 1960, which was released on Top Rank in the UK (valued at £80). Original member Chuck Weldon appears in Long Island under his own name, rather than that of the group. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFhoh5hcuuc
9. The Heartbeats - Down On My Knees. Roulette label
One of the great harmony groups of the era, led by James Sheppard, the Heartbeats made it big with A Thousand Miles Away and a series of answer songs, including Daddy's Home by Shep and the Limelites after the original group broke up. Shep died in 1970. Not sure who's in the present group. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8trjPopmh8
10. Dicky Doo & the Don'ts - Flip Top Box/ Nee Nee Na Na Na Na Nu Nu. Swan label.
Dicky was in fact Gerry Granahan (who had a hit of his own with No Chemise Please) and this was the B side of what must rank as one of the most annoying records of the era (although not released at the time in the UK). Rather better was their first record - Click Clack. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtkYFZPM0kE