The Crystalairs from Germany. The Roomates from England. And now The Earth Angels from Spain.
Sitting here in the USA, it seems that the best vocal groups come from far-off lands. Must be something in the air over there....
While The Roomates and The Crystalairs are seasoned pros, The Earth Angels are newcomers to the doo wop world. They have just released their debut album, Street Corner Style, which will soon be regarded as one of the harmony classics, right up there with Lost On Belmont Ave and The Whole Wide World.
The Earth Angels are Jordi, Christian, and Joan. They dress like doo woppers. They look like doo woppers. And most important of all, they sing like doo woppers!
Before I get to the actual music, I just to note that this CD comes with a full 32 page booklet crammed with biographical information, pictures, and all the lyrics to the songs contained within.
The mix is just right, the simple combo of bass, drums, guitar, and sax are not to overpowering. The lead vocals of Jordi are crystal clear, and you can't miss Joan and Christian singing the tra la las and doo be doos.
OK, now on to the actual music. There are 17 songs on Street Corner Style. I'm proud to say that there isn't a stinker among them. While I could write a brief description for each song, I would rather write in detail about three of my favorites.
This is the song that opens the disc. I have known the original by The Decoys for years. On that version, the sound is crude and raw, yet there is something compelling about the melody and theme.
What The Earth Angels have done here, is take away the crudeness and rawness, and polish it up to it's full potential. Jordi's opening lines, "Tomorrow, will you love me? As you loved me, loved me tonight?" bring thoughts of The Shirelles, and it wouldn't be hard to imagine The Shirelles singing this song. I'm not sure they could have done as well with it as The Earth Angels have though! It's simply a great way to open their debut album.
This is the only original composition on the disc. I am sure glad they included it!!! It's written with love and care, and is true to the doo wop sound. It's instantly catchy and I consider it the "single" off of the CD. If you like The Belmonts, The Earls, or any of the New York Doo Wop groups, you are bound to love this.
And the best part is, there are TWO versions on the CD! Track 4 contains the version with instruments, and Track 17 features The Earth Angels singing their original song accapella, street corner style.
JUST ONE MORE CHANCE
One way that I like to judge new, modern vocal groups is to see if their remake of a song lives up to the original.
Just One More Chance by The Demensions is very close to my heart. I remember when I first heard it. It was on the local station that plays doo wop every weekend. I can still imagine when I heard the falsetto and the trademark white doo wop sound. I just had to have it! But, the station DJ never announced who the artist was. I figured I would never find out who it was. But then, a month or two later, I purchased a various artists Doo Wop CD. When I played it, I found out that "my" song was there! And it has remained one of my favorites ever since.
I was never aware of any other versions until I heard The Earth Angels sing it. It just blew me away. The falsetto, background vocals, and production are true to the original, yet still in a unique style, now to be known as the Earth Angels Sound. Now I have trouble deciding which version I like more!!
You can buy The Earth Angels - Street Corner Style CD direct from Rare Rockin' Records HERE. Enjoy it - it's a great one!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Guys and gals, it's been a very sad day. Johnny Maestro, legendary lead of The Crests and Brooklyn Bridge, has passed away at age 71. I had the chance to see him in concert twice, and saw one of his last performances in December. He sang as heavenly as ever.
We all will miss the Maestro of Doo Wop, so let's play his music loud so he can hear it in Heaven!!
Calling all angels.....
Besides all of his magnificent hits with his groups, listen to some of Johnny's under-rated solo work. HERE, HERE, and HERE
Monday, March 15, 2010
I, on behalf of Rare Rockin' Records, am delighted to bring you another great interview with a 60s pop icon. We are talking about the stuff of legend here!! You all know her hit records like "Dumb Head" and "I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear". Yes indeed, it's Miss Ginny Arnell!! I was thrilled when Ginny allowed me to ask her questions about her recording career and songs from the glorious 1960s.
Just a little background information before we begin: Ginny was born Virginia Mazarro in New Haven, Connecticut on November 2, 1942. When she started her recording career, she was still a student at East Haven High School.
Kyler:Ginny, you first started your recording career recording as a duo with Gene Pitney under the name of “Jamie & Jane”. What is your favorite “Jamie & Jane” record, and what was it like working with Gene?
GINNY:My favorite Jamie & Jane record is “Strolling Though the Park”. It was fun working with Gene. He never went anywhere without his guitar. He was always thinking about new songs to write. He was a very slim, aggressive, handsome and talented young man who was going to achieve success at any cost.
Kyler:A very good song of yours that got lost by the wayside is called “Tell Me What He Said”, from 1960 on Decca Records. It was written by the legendary Jeff Barry. Do you have any remembrances or opinions on that one?
GINNY:Yes, “Tell Me What She Said” was a very exciting song to sing. I remember singing it with a lot of passion with great back up singers and a super arrangement.
Kyler:Skipping ahead to your MGM years, the first single you recorded for that label is one of my favorites, entitled “I’m Crying Too”. Any info behind the recording or song?
GINNY:“I’m Crying Too” had a unique sound. We recorded in a New York studio later in the evening. We had quite an orchestra come in but the most exciting part was seeing them bring in the beautiful Harp. It added a beautiful sound to this great song. Two other great songs I recorded in NYC were “Carnival”, the classic, and Neil Sedaka’s “Mr Saxophone”, vintage Sedaka.
Kyler:Your biggest hit came next, “Dumb Head”. It went to #50 in Billboard and went higher in a lot of local charts. What was it like for you during those times knowing your record was being played and bought around the country?
GINNY:It was like a dream come true! I remember driving with my Dad when it came on the radio. We pulled over and screamed with delight – like we never heard it before. I was a teenager and all I wanted to do was sing. Just to know that kids all over the country were listening to my records was a beautiful feeling. My Mom, Dad, and Sister were so very excited for me. Could this really be happening??? But they never let me forget that School came first, and it did!
Kyler:The B side of “Dumb Head”, called “How Many Times Can One Heart Break”, is an excellent pop song as well. We would love to know any info or opinions about this great track!
GINNY:“How Many Times Can One Heart Break” was a very good song, too good to be a “B” side. I didn’t have any songs in the “can” so everything I did was released.
Kyler:You appeared on American Bandstand when “Dumb Head” was in the charts. What was it like?? Maybe you could tell our readers about the funny incident that happened during the taping.
GINNY:American Bandstand was a highlight in my career. I was a big fan of the show. A funny thing happened when I was getting ready to lip sync the record. They put on a Bobby Rydell record, Wild One, instead of Dumb Head. So I stood there, smiled and waited for the producer to put on the right record. We all laughed about it and moved right along. I’ll never forget it. I also recorded “Dumb Head” in Japanese where it was released and was a big hit. You can hear this cut on the CD released on Poker Records.
Kyler:“I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear”, the follow up to “Dumb Head”, is one of the best girl-pop records ever made, in my opinion. Although it was not as big of a hit, it is still remembered today as one of your best recordings. Please tell us anything you remember about this iconic record.
GINNY:Yes, “I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear” was one of my best recordings. The record company believed it was going to be a big hit too. They put a beautiful colored sleeve on the 45 with my picture on it. That was another highlight of my career. I was fortunate to get really good material but it did pose a problem, my A&R men said I never made a bad song so therefore it was hard to pick a “B” side.
Kyler:Once again, the B Side was just as good as the A Side! “He’s My Little Devil” was the song you heard if you flipped “I Wish I Knew What Dress To Wear”. It sounds almost like the type of song Gene Pitney would write. Do you think that “He’s My Little Devil” should have been saved for a future A-Side instead of being relegated to the flip side of “I Wish I Knew….”??
GINNY:Yes, “He’s My Little Devil” should have been saved for a future A-side. The DJ’s didn’t know which side to play and in the long run, it hurt “My Little Devil”.
Kyler:My favorite record of yours is called “Let Me Make You Smile Again”. It has all the elements of a great 60s pop recording!! I feel that it should have been a major hit. What do you think?
GINNY:“Let Me Make You Smile Again” was a powerful arrangement and I sang it with meaningful passion. It had a great set of lyrics too. Any of my records could be released and enjoyed today as well as they were 46 years ago. I believe my records are timeless and unforgettable once you hear them a few times. Hope I’m not being toooo partial!!
Kyler:Your album, “Meet Ginny Arnell”, was released in 1964. It contained your hit singles and some new recordings. It is quite sought after today. Do you have a favorite song from the album, or any memories recording it?
GINNY:Yes, I recorded this album in Nashville in a morning recording session. The musicians and backup singers were the same people that worked on Elvis’ sessions. The Jordinaires, Chet Atkins and Floyd Cramer to mention a few. They all couldn’t believe that I could sing like I did so early in the morning. They forgot that I wasn’t out drinking and smoking all the night before like they were!!!!!!! I think “Yesterday’s Memories” was a favorite cut of mine.
Kyler:Your next single, “Just Like A Boy”, makes me think of the Motown sound, Mary Wells in particular. Is that what you were going for when you were recording it?
GINNY:The Motown sound was hot and we certainly wanted to get on that bandwagon. I thought we had a great sound that could compete with anything that was out then.
This concludes our interview. Thanks once again to Ginny for answering all the questions and for being a geniunely great person. Until next time folks.....keep on rockin', rollin' and doo woppin'!!!!
Monday, March 8, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Ladies and gentlemen, you are in for a treat! RRR presents an interview with the great, legendary, TRADE MARTIN!!! Trade is a great guy, and I think all you 60s music lovers will enjoy the questions and answers.
Here we go:
Kyler: How did you get into the music business?
TRADE: I was introduced to my first manager, lyricist, Ed Miller who wrote, "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck"...., he heard some early demos of mine.and I started by singing Elvis demos for him.
Kyler:You recorded The Earls and many other doo-wop groups in the early 60s for Rome Records. How was it working with all those groups?
TRADE: Not many, just a few. My partner Johnny Power and I first discovered the Earls and they were initially released on our own record label "ROME".
Kyler:Moving onto your Coed Records period, how did you get noticed and signed by Coed?
TRADE:Through my manager, Ed Miller. Before that, he got me a deal as a solo guitarist on Roulette.
Kyler:Your first record for Coed, “That Stranger Used To Be My Girl”, is one of the best teen/pop records of the 60s. Do you have any remembrances about the recording or anything in general about the song?
TRADE:Yes......, I didn't write or arrange it, but it was my specific idea to have a tuba solo in it.
Kyler:You appeared on American Bandstand when “That Stranger” went Top 30. How did it feel to be on that classic show?
TRADE:Of course it was exciting performing there and going over to the famous autograph table.. Dick Clark is a nice fellow. A few months later, I appeared on his syndicated radio show in a guest panel with Nancy Sinatra and Jimmy Dean.
Kyler:On many of your Coed sides, I can hear touches of Dion. How much did he influence you during this time period?
TRADE:Dion's great and a good guy too. I recall playing guitar on one of his albums (none of his hits) when I was a prominent New York studio guitarist. Vocally, I didn't sound like Dion at all...., it's just that my recordings did have the same 'hand-clapping' feel that was very hot in those days.
Kyler:One of my all time favorite songs of yours is one you did in 1962 called “Strategy”. Any info behind that?
TRADE:I liked that one too. We put a tuba solo in it. I didn't write it either...., a fine Coed staff arranger & friend, Fred Weismantle arranged it like he did my 'Stranger' hit.
Kyler:In 1964, you released “Spend Your Life With Me”. It has a classic Wall of Sound style backing. We love it! Were you going for a Phil Spector sound on this track?
TRADE: Yes, I was...., but I didn't want it to be over bearing...., so I kind of went, "wall of sound" 'lite. You know.I was a studio guitarist on many of Phil's sessions in New York and I was part of, and actually witnessed the secrets and the 'construction' of his "wall of sound."
Kyler:Your last release for Coed was “Joanne”, your most doo-wop sounding record. It was released smack dab in the middle of the British Invasion. Was it hard competing against all the British groups?
TRADE:It sure was...., radio stations were swarmed with those very commercial records at the time, and it made it very difficult for some American artists like yours truly. But we had to accept that the 'British Sound' was the new trend. The really weird part of it was that all of our early rockabilly & bluesy rock n ' roll records had greatly influenced their British sound invasion.
Kyler:You played guitar on many classic 60s productions. Do you have any favorites?
TRADE:Yes, the original Twist & Shout by the Isleys & "Cherry, Cherry" by Neil Diamond.
Kyler: Finally Trade, what are you up to these days?
TRADE: Kyler, I write and record my own stuff 24/7. I have a number of new CDs on Amazon and lots of downloads on I-Tunes. Once in a while I produce a major artist like the legendary B.B. King. I'm currently working on a few great original duets that I sing back & forth with him. They will be released soon. Please check out TRADEMARTINMUSIC.COM & my YOUTUBE videos
We hope you enjoyed the interview! I would like to give a big, heartfelt thank you to Mr. Trade Martin for kindly answering all the questions. And please check out his website and music, he is simply one of the greatest!
Monday, March 1, 2010
Patty Duke was born in 1946. She had a pretty rough childhood, which you can read about in various places on the world wide web.
Primarily an actress, Patty Duke stepped into the world of 45s and 33s during the second season of "The Patty Duke Show". The show involved Patty playing dual roles as herself (Patty Lane) and also as her cousin, Cathy Lane. Guys and girls, if you've never watched this show, I urge you to go track down the DVD's, it's like stepping back into the 60s!
The show became a major success, and United Artists signed her up to make some records. They knew because she had a popular show on TV, that she could definately make UA some money by releasing at least a single or two.
Her producers wanted to give her a Lesley Gore styled sound, and her first release was exactly that. "Don't Just Stand There" was pretty much a carbon copy of "You Don't Own Me", but nevertheless, the song went all the way to #8 in 1965.
Luckilly, many videos of Patty performing her songs were saved, so HERE is Patty doing her thing.
The B Side was also a light teen pop recording, called "Everything But Love"
Along the way, Patty recorded a version of Christine Quaite's "Tell Me Mama". This was one of the songs that went unreleased on record by Patty. Actually, it still is, and you can't buy it on 45, LP, or CD. However, it was recorded just for Patty's show, and the clip still exists. Although the vocal on this (and all of Patty Duke's other recordings) may be considered weak, there is a certain charm in the teenage, cutesy vocals. Anyway, here's Tell Me Mama
The next single was another great one, called "Funny Little Butterflies". This might be my favorite teen recording by Patty, although it did worse than the first single, only making #22. Check out the performance clips from Shindig! and also Patty's own show.
The B Side, Say Something Funny, was a take off on Patty's first single, Don't Just Stand There. A performance clip can be viewed at the click of a mouse. Patty
Patty's hits slowed down, and while she still released some terrific 45s (like the one below), they went un-noticed by the public.
Patty had two albums, both containg a mix of mainly cover versions and also some original songs. Like I said before, she also continued to release many other 45s and then decided to focus on her acting. Many of her recordings from the mid 60s, including the ones mentioned here (and many other fabulous ones that were not!), can be found on a CD entitled "Just Patty", but it's Out Of Print and can be costly. It's noted for it's audophile stereo sound straight from the master tapes.
And for a bit of fun.....PATTY SINGS HERMAN's HERMITS
Hope you enjoy it!