Doo Wop Ballads

flamingosLike everything, it came to me from the radio. Whilst my mates were digging Floyd & Genesis my heart was stolen by a bunch of 45′s, the majority of which never even got released in this country originally.  Sure the uptempo hits of doo wop were in the mainstream, whether being used to soundtrack TV shows like ‘Happy Days’, or being decimated by the worlds most uncool Ted’s Showaddywaddy (please note – Teds are COOL). But the real deal, the ballads of doo wop came to me through a radio show which i would listen to religiously  with a pen in my hand & my finger on the pause button (I’ve still got the tapes). Roger Scott presents Crusin’ every friday night 6 – 7 pm on Capital radio 194. Connection was forged, vocal harmony became my favorite sound in the world. I really understand Brian Eno’s take on why he loves doo wop “I was always impressed by music I couldn’t penetrate the mystery of ” , there is an otherworldly quality to it. Terry Johnson, The Flamingos tenor/guitarist said that the vocal arrangement  for ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ came to him in a dream, he had been working on a version of the 1934 standard all day and nothing fit, “I went to bed, and I was playing the guitar, and i was thinking of something. And I had the guitar on my chest, and I fell asleep. And I heard the song in my dream. I heard it just as you hear it now, with the ‘doo-wop-she-bops’ and the beautiful harmonies and the chord structure.” It is one of the most beautiful haunting productions I have ever heard. Doo wop is about keeping it simple, simple lyric, simple melody,  simple beat, sometimes little or no instrumentation and of course nonsense syllables and a dash of echo. So here’s my top 10 below. Enjoy.

The Charts – Deserie

01 Deserie – The Charts

The Paragons – Florence

02 Florence – The Paragons

The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You

03 I Only Have Eyes For You – The Flamingos

The Five Satins – In The Still Of The Night

04 In The Still Of The Night – The Five Satins

The Jesters – The Plea

05 The Plea – The Jesters

The Moonglows – Sincerely

06 Sincerely – The Moonglows

The Harptones – A Sunday Kind Of Love

07 A Sunday Kind Of Love – The Harptones

Lee Andrews & The Hearts – Try The Impossible

08 Try The Impossible – Lee Andrews & The Hearts

The Channels – The Closer You Are

09 The Closer You Are – The Channels

The Dubs – Don’t Ask Me (To Be Lonely)

10 Don’t Ask Me (To Be Lonely) – The Dubs


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