Monday, October 11, 2010

Doo Wop at 50

Ten years ago, I was randomly looking for DVDs online with search words like “rock and roll”, “soul”, and “R&B”. I always like to find CDs and DVDs that I’ve never heard about. It’s like online treasure hunting for the music fan. So, not finding anything interesting or new, I started searching for different music genres, such as “doo wop”. One of the results I got was a DVD called Doo Wop at 50. It was a 1999 concert produced by T.J. Lubinsky for PBS, to celebrate 50 years of Doo Wop music.

I was a bit skeptical, since I had seen a lot of DVDs featuring artists such as The Temptations, James Brown, B.B. King, but they simply weren’t very well made or the video wasn’t remastered in any way. But after looking at some of the groups that were on the DVD (The Penguins, The Platters, The Flamingos, etc.), I decided to give it a chance. When it arrived, I was extremely surprised as I started watching the concert. I did feel a bit disappointed when I first started noticing that most of the groups had new, young members. But after a while, it hit me. These groups have been singing for 40-50 years, so a lot of the original singers have passed away or simply don’t perform anymore. So I started realizing the historical importance of this concert in music history. Specially now, 10 years later, when a lot of the singers who were featured on the DVD have unfortunately passed away.

T.J. Lubinsky was inspired to create this first concert and the ones that were to follow from years of listening to his father’s records. He wanted to document an important style of music with its original performers before it was too late. Well, lucky for us, he took the initiative to create this series of shows in the time he did. The general rule was for each group to have at least one original member from the 50’s. Since this first concert was held in 1999, we get to enjoy a lot of the original lead vocalists singing their top hits.

Here’s the listing of the other groups that performed in this concert: The Del-Vikings, Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, Gene Chandler, Johnny Maestro and the Brooklyn Bridge, Lee Andrews and the Hearts, The Cleftones, The Capris, The Marcels, Jive Five, The Legends of Doo Wop, Earl Lewis and the Channels, The Cadillacs, Golden Group Memories, The Chantels, The Moonglows, Jerry Butler, The Harptones, and The Spaniels.

Although most of the original singers were well into their 60’s, they did a very good job. You can easily identify a lot of the lead vocalists, even though some are hoarse or simply can’t hit that high note anymore. But even so, is it worthwhile buying it? Let’s just say that later on, I bought another copy, in case something happened to the first one.

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