It’s no secret that Lou Reed and Frank Zappa dug doo-wop. They both were involved with the genre in the early ‘60s; Reed was in a high school band, The Jades, who released a doo-wop 45 of their own and Zappa wrote and produced ‘Memories Of El Monte’ by The Penguins. He subsequently dabbled in the genre, writing and producing pre Mothers Of Invention, his love culminating in the Mothers’ album ‘Cruising With Ruben And The Jets’, and before that, he even lifted Richard Berry’s version of ‘Louie Louie’ for ‘Absolutely Free’.
In interviews, Zappa recalled first hearing ‘Work With Me, Annie’ by Hank Ballard & The Midnighters in his parent’s car. “My parents went crazy and forced me to turn it off,” he told Sh-Boom magazine. It was a forbidden fruit that he had to try again. And again.
In the mid-‘60s, Reed contributed to Aspen magazine’s Warhol issue with an essay on popular music that name-dropped several of his favorite obscure 1950s doo-wop groups, including The Jesters, The Paragons, The Elchords and The Excellents. He even argued that these groups taught him the virtues of musical repetition. And, in subsequent interviews he raved over ‘Coney Island Kids’ by the previously mentioned Excellents and enthused over mighty ‘The Paragons Vs The Jesters’ album.
“At the time, pop music was really awful and there was nothing really to like over there. I liked rockabilly and doo-wop – The Moonglows, The Orioles, The Jesters, The Diablos – all these great names. And Johnny Ace – he could break your heart.”
Zappa too had his favourites, singling out The Five Satins’ ‘To The Aisle’, The Elegants’ ‘Little Star’, The Dubs’ ‘Could This Be Magic’, The Nutmegs’ glorious ‘Story Untold’, the aching ‘Florence’ by The Paragons and The Spaniels’ lush ‘Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight’.
Within the doo-wop genre these are but the tip of a multi-harmony iceberg, the passage of time since Lou and Frank came out of the doo-wop closet has unearthed a cornucopia of formidable 45s. But here’s a place to start, ‘Lou And Frank Dig Doo-Wop’ gathers just an hour’s worth of prime street corner symphonies as selected by these two musical legends. Find it now via Fidelity Masters.
Lou And Frank Dig Doo Wop
01 – The Excellents – Coney Island Baby
02 – The Five Satins – Somewhere A Voice Is Calling
03 – The Paragons – Florence Don’t Leave Me
04 – The Jesters – Sally Green
05 – The Paragons – Kneel And Pray
06 – The Jesters – Come And Let Me Show You
07 – The Moonglows – Too Late
08 – Nolan Strong & The Diablos – If I (Could Be With You Tonight)
09 – The Spaniels – Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite
10 – The Moonglows – I Knew From The Start
11 – Vito Picone & The Elegants – Little Star
12 – The Five Satins – Wonderful Girl
13 – The Nutmegs – Story Untold
14 – The Moonglows – What Are You Going To Do
15 – The Jesters – Please Let Me Love You
16 – The Penguins – Memories Of El Monte
17 – The Orioles – Crying In The Chapel
18 – The Diablos – The Way You Dog Me Around
19 – Johnny Ace – Pledging My Love
20 – The Moonglows – Most Of All
21 – The Five Satins – To The Aisle
22 – The Dubs – Could This Be Magic
23 – The Marigolds – Rollin’ Stone
24 – The Turbans – When You Dance
25 – Hank Ballard & the Midnighters_The Royals – Work With Me, Annie
26 – The El Chords – Peppermint Stick
27 – Richard Berry & The Pharaohs – Louie Louie