Monday, 12 March 2018

12 great records by black R&B and Doowop vocal groups and duos - take a bow, The Rays, The Dynamics, Don & Dewey and The Chips

"Daddy Cool" was the B-side of The Rays' 1957 hit, "Silhouettes":
The Cadillacs had a hit with one of the great rock'n'roll breakthrough records, "Speedo", in 1955 - here's their very Coasters-like "Peek-A-Boo"...

...from 1958:
Speaking of The Coasters, here's "(Ain't That) Just Like Me", the flip-side of "Bad Blood" which was covered by The Searchers and The Hollies in 1963:
The Detroit vocal group, The Dynamics, had their first hit in 1963 with the extremely cheerful-sounding "Misery":
The Who liked the number so much, they "borrowed" it for their first single, "Zoot Suit" (1964).  

A real doowop classic now - the Flamingos with their immensely polished revival of "I Only Have Eyes for You" (1959):
Here, from the previous year, are Billy Ward & The Dominoes, with a somewhat gritter version of doowop - "Jennie Lee" is apparently a song about a stripper:
You'll often hear old grouches like me complain that, somewhere along the line, pop music stopped being fun. M'lud, the prosecution would like to introduce The Chips' somewhat deranged "Rubber Biscuit" from 1956 (which, unless my ears deceived me, was used on a Bird's Eye TV advert last year):
If the lead singer's voice on Harvey and the Moonglows' 1961 single, "Mama Loochie" seems familiar, that's probably because it belongs to Marvin Gaye:
Vocal duo Don and Dewey proved beyond any reasonable doubt that life isn't fair. They both sang, played guitar, and (mostly) wrote and recorded a string of R&B classics for Specialty between 1957 and 1964, including "Justine", "Leaving It All Up to You", "Farmer John", and "Big Boy Pete", which were hits for other artists (e.g. The Premiers, Dale & Grace, The Searchers, The Righteous Brothers and The Olympics) - but they never had a hit themselves. One of the duo - Don "Sugarcane" Harris - went on to play electric violin with the likes of Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, but I doubtthat made up for Don and Dewey's lack of chart success. Here they are with "Farmer John" from 1959:
No, I can't leave it there - here's "Mammer Jammer", about which I know nothing, except that it really rocks:
An old favourite now - The Showmen with "Country Fool", the "B" side of their 1961 hit, "It Will Stand":

"Easier Said than Done" by The Essex was a charming, rather dainty US chart-topper from 1963 - surprising, given that the band consisted of members of the US Marine Corps!:
I'll end with the glorious voice of Clyde McPhatter on The Dominoes' "Have Mercy Baby", sounding as fresh today as it did when recorded 67 years ago:


  1. There's a scene in the film Mean Streets, with Harvey Keitel giving a fairly realistic interpretation of getting a bit Brahms and Lisz to the accompaniment of "Rubber Biscuit."