Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Dovells

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.

The Dovells:

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…

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