Illustrators: Stefan Wriedt; Charlie Horner; R.A. Andreas; Pamela Horner; Victor Pearlin; Billy Vera.
Photographers: Stefan Wriedt; Charlie Horner; R.A. Andreas; Pamela Horner; Victor Pearlin; Billy Vera.
Ever since the '50s gave way to the '60s it seemed that doo wop was fracturing and, certainly, by 1962, it wasn't quite as big a commercial force as it was five or six previously. That said, history is not tidy: Motown, uptown soul, girl groups, and Chicago soul may all have been taking hold in 1962, but doo wop hadn't disappeared, as this 14th volume of Bear Family's Street Corner Symphonies series illustrates. There are plenty of those aforementioned sounds, sounds that are loosely identified as doo wop due to their vocal group harmonies -- the Supremes have their first hit, the Miracles have a breakthrough with "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," the Marvelettes are here, the Exciters' exuberant "Tell Him" is pure early-'60s pop, as is the Orlons' "Don't Hang Up," while the Drifters' "Up on the Roof" -- and that's enough to keep this varied, entertaining, and interesting (and Beatles fanatics will also be happy to find the original versions of "Chains" (by the Cookies), "Devil in His Heart" (by the Donays), and the Isley Brothers' "Twist and Shout" on one disc). But what's striking is how many pure doo wop songs are still here -- there's the rollicking "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" by the Rivingtons, the Earls' nostalgic "Remember Then," the Belmonts' swinging street corner "Come on Little Angel," the Valentinos' groovy "Looking for a Love," and the creamy "Coney Island Baby" by the Excellents, a song so iconic Lou Reed later borrowed its title for a song of his own. This messiness makes this 14th volume of Street Corner Symphonies as great as the three that preceded it. ~ Stephen Thomas Elrewine