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Good Rockin' Harmonies
Hillari Hunter | Chicago, IL United States | 12/22/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It goes without saying that doo wop worked well with rockin' tunes as well as ballads. A good mix of songs that should satisfy lovers of harmony."
This Dedication Goes Out To...Essential Uptempo Doo Wop Melo
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 05/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 18 songs on this single disc Rhino compilation are all prime and classic sonic relics of the doo wop era which spanned the years from roughly 1954 to 1963. Many of us were too young to have heard these songs on the radio when they were first released, but as a result of at least five bona fide rock `n' roll revivals since 1969, and the enormous popularity of George Lucas's fun summertime nostalgia film and the accompanying soundtrack, "American Graffitti", the music genre affectionately dubbed doo wop has become firmly ensconced in American popular culture as representative of simpler, slower and supposedly more innocent times. Now there are Oldies radio stations in every demographic market spinning these tunes 24/7 and what were once songs that stood slightly outside of the mainstream have, through saturation playing, become ubiquitously familiar melodies heard at wedding receptions, while grocery shopping, while undergoing root canals, and during airplane delays. These songs are everywhere, you say! Yes, but they are so good that I for one, and I'm sure there are plenty of other greasers in spirit out there, love hearing them no matter where I am or what I'm doing. Intended originally for a teen audience as music to cruise to, or dance to at sock hops and at soda shops, there is an exuberant and raw energy expressed in the vocals with their hilarious nonsensical syllables, in the jump rhythms and in the honking saxes that makes one smile and want to snap one's fingers. The combos and groups featured on "Uptempo" perfected tight vocal harmonies and took them to playfully and hitherto unheard of rhythmic heights. In these songs one can hear the roots of Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, and of course many of the `60's Motown and girl groups.
There are many doo wop compilations, but Rhino's 1989 CD, "The Best of Doo Wop Uptempo" is nearly perfect in concisely collecting the best of what made doo wop so much fun and, so essential to understanding how early rock `n' roll developed. The subjects dealt with are primarily the vagaries of love, getting a job, getting a bit of respect, and of course dancing and romancing. Bill Liebowitz's liner notes are excellently written as they give one just discovering doo wop or anyone re-discovering doo wop music a sense of the intricacies that these groups put into creating such joyous vocals and heavenly harmonies. Standout tracks for me are "Whispering Bells" by the Dell-Vikings, "Hushabye" by the Mystics, "Book of Love" by The Monotones, "Little Star" by The Elegants, and "Denise" by Randy & The Rainbows. I need to thank Robert Christgau for getting me hip to "The Best of Doo Wop Uptempo", as he included it in his "Rock Library: Before 1980" list, a best of list which apparently is available only in print (oh, the humanity!). Anyways, if you're looking to get into this great music, here is the place to do it. Served straight up and with no Wolfman Jack or Alan Freed voice overs, these are the pure timeless songs from the early days of rock n roll. So dig `em daddy-o!"