The group was all about dancing. The jitterbug, the Bristol stomp, the hully gully, kind of a white group version of Chubby Checker. And they recorded for Cameo-Parkway.
This is one of those delightful Cameo-Parkway collections, called, in this case, The Best Of The Dovells 1961-1965. All the hits are here, and the last track on the collection, which I’m not including here, was lead singer Len Barry’s first solo hit, 1-2-3. Thanks to La Grande Bibliotheque.
• Bristol Stomp – This was apparently inspired by Bristol, Pennsylvania, not some beach town in England. The exact steps that comprise this regional variation of a somewhat forgotten dance must remain unknown. The group’s first hit was their biggest, in the autumn of 1961.
• No, No, No – From 1957, they actually released with a different name on the single. It was before they were The Dovells. A song about a man on a mission.
• Foot Stompin’ – I’d probably like this better if I didn’t already know The Flares’ hit version. Great song though…
• Mope-itty- Mope – Near as I can tell, this is about a “chick from outer space.” Sheb Wooley needn’t have lost sleep.
• Do The New Continental – I’m on the mailing list of a group that organizes dances a few times a year. And every time I go, one of the organizers leads everyone (by everyone, I mean everyone but me) in a round of “the continental.” It is the least fun thing I can think of. But maybe the new continental is more fun than the old continental. This is from the winter of 1962.
• The Actor – This is what the group sounds like doing a ballad. It’s why they didn’t do many ballads…
• Bristol Twistin’ Annie – The Bristol stomp, the twist, and a girl named Annie. How can you lose? From the summer of 1962.
• Hully Gully Baby – The Olympics did (Baby) Hully Gully, a few years earlier. Here it’s updated (slightly). “All I want to do with you…” From the autumn of 1962.
• Your Last Chance – It’s now or never, sang Elvis. This is kind of the same idea, but to a much better dance beat.
• Kissin’ In The Kitchen – I guess you’d have to categorize this as a novelty number, though it’s hard to tell. Some kind of party going on, and they find the only unoccupied room. Or else it’s about some long-married couple seeking “variety.” Jeez, I hope not…
• The Jitterbug – I guess everyone’s heard of this one. It’s fast, that’s good. I can dance around my kitchen to this anytime… From the winter of 1962 / 1963.
• You Can’t Sit Down – A vocal version of The Phil Upchurch Combo hit. Pretty much sums up the group’s entire ouvre. From the summer of 1963.
• Baby Workout – Len Barry was a good singer but Jackie Wilson was a better one, so I don’t know why he tried covering him…
• Hey Beautiful – The masher’s theme…
• Betty In Bermudas – Hot pants ok, but Bermudas? Must be something about that Betty… From the autumn of 1963.
• Dance The Froog – I’ve heard of the frug, but the froog? An early version, undoubtedly, though he does mention “hippies” somewhere here…
• Stop Monkeyin’ Around – An existential exercise here, where dancing and romancing coincide in unintentioned ways. From the autumn of 1963.
• Don’t Come Back – The title is imperative, but the lyrics are conditional, “I don’t care if you don’t come back.” Either way, the dance rhythm doesn’t change.
• Little White Houses – Not to be confused with White Houses by Eric Burdon & The Animals. But the group does get (just slightly) bluesy here…
• Hearts Are Trump – Romance as a card game…
Someone should write a book, if it hasn’t been done yet, about one-hit wonder R & B groups – like The Jarmels. Here is a group that has been around, it seems, in one form or another, since the early 60s, and they’ve only ever had one hit. Where I got it is anyone’s guess, probably on one of those various artist pre-recorded cassettes I used to pick up all the time. They recorded for Laurie Records, the same label that recorded Dion & The Belmonts and The Chiffons.
• A Little Bit Of Soap – Music to shag to. Not clear to me why anyone would expect soap to wash away heartache, but maybe I’m poetry-challenged. From the fall of 1961, their only hit.
My “collection” by The Wilburn Brothers is another oddity that comes from that Decca collection, From The Vaults. The group had dozens of hits on the country charts between 1954 and 1981, but nothing on the pop charts.
The Wilburn Brothers:
• Trouble’s Back In Town – I love it. To characterize a grownup as “trouble” that way, it’s priceless. The style of this song was antiquated even back in 1961 when it was a hit.