DOO WOP is the name often used to describe vocal group harmony recordings spanning the 40s, 50s and 60s. Although there are many theories as to how the name for this type of music came about, it is almost certainly derived from the sound of the groups' harmonising sounds behind the lead singer. Doo wah, Doo doo wah....Shoo be doo be doo....Oop shoop......doh doh doh do and many other similar constructions are the hallmark of countless vocal group classics and so the genre took its name from those sounds.
Vocal groups in the US came from diverse geographic, racial and musical backgrounds and in SHOO BE DOO BE DOO WOP, we've tried to reflect that diversity in the tracks selected for inclusion. From the West Coast come black groups such as the Penguins, often voted THE all-time doo-wop group-.-the Cadets-.-Arthur Lee Maye & the Crowns and the Hollywood Flames. From the East Coast come white groups such as the Earls, Crowns and the Capris. Then there were mixed groups such as Don Julian and the Meadowlarks and all-female groups like Shirley Gunter and the Queens. Usually a doo wop group would have four or five members, but the same type of sound would sometimes come from just two people, albeit often helped by overdubbing. Examples of this include the Teen Queens (two sisters) and the Cliques (actually Jesse Belvin and Eugene Church).
Typically, a doo wop record would pair a slow-paced song on one side with an upbeat tune on the other side. The tone could range from very serious ballads (examples on this CD include Why Don't You Write Me by the Jacks and Goodnight My Love by Jesse Belvin with a group behind him) to complete novelty items such as Stranded In The Jungle by the Cadets or Guided Missiles by the Cuff Links. Faster tempo outings include Remember Then by the Earls and Possibility by the Crowns, and then there were many dance tunes such as The Ookey Ook by the Penguins.
Because doo wop is such a fantastic mixture of group harmony sounds, it has attracted devoted followers and collectors all over the world. The collecting scene (and the prices paid for rare gems) is probably only challenged by the Northern Soul and the rare jazz areas. Doo wop collectors tend to be fiercely proud of what they regard as the best records on the scene, so it's no surprise that no two of them would ever agree on what should be on a 'Best of Doo Wop' collection. However this 18-track mid-price selection should prove to be both a good introduction to the varied scene that constitutes doo wop and may well provide a more serious collector with that track or three they've been chasing for a long while.
By Peter Gibbon