From The Pen Of Frank Jackman
Early Girls, Volume One, various singers, Ace Records , 1997
I mentioned one time in a review of a two-volume set of, for lack of a better term, girl doo wop (1950s stuff, okay where the lead singer, a girl singer, sang some sad tale, usually about some lost boy, Johnny or Jimmy, who cheated on her, left her high and dry for another girl, stood her up or, worse, much worse, failed to make that midnight phone call she had been waiting by the phone for hours to pick up, pick up and hear, uh, his voice, his manly voice, and a group of two or three other girls just kind of say-do lang, do lang, sha na na or stuff like that. Look it up on Wikipedia if you don’t get it, or don’t believe me that humans being could make such sounds and make beautiful music. ), I have, of late, been running back over some rock material that formed my coming of age listening music and that of my generation, the generation of ’68 (on that ubiquitous, and very personal, iPod, oops, battery-driven transistor radio that kept those snooping parents out in the dark, clueless, about what I was listening to, and that was just fine, as I am sure you will agree whatever generation you inhabit these days).
Naturally one had to pay homage to the blues influences from the likes of Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton, and Big Joe Turner. And, of course, the rockabilly influences from Elvis, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson, and Jerry Lee Lewis on. Additionally, I have spent some time on the male side of the doo wop be-bop Saturday night led by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers on Why Do Fools Fall In Love? (good question, right). I noted there that I had not done much with the female side of the doo wop night, the great "girl" groups that had their heyday in the late 1950s and early 1960s before the British invasion, among other things, changed our tastes in popular music. I would expand that observation here to include girls’ voices generally. As there, I make some amends for that omission here.
As I also noted in that earlier review one problem with the girl groups, and now girl vocals for a guy, me, a serious rock guy, me, was that the lyrics to many of the girl group songs, frankly, did not “speak to me.” After all how much empathy could a young ragamuffin of boy brought up on the wrong side of the tracks looking wistfully over to the girls on the right side of the tracks like this writer have for a girl who breaks a guy's heart after leading him on, yes, leading him on, just because her big bruiser of a boyfriend is coming back and she needs some excuse to brush the heartbroken lad off in the Angels' My Boyfriend’s Back. Or some lucky guy, some lucky Sunday guy, maybe, who breathlessly catches the eye of the singer in the Shirelles' Met Him On Sunday from a guy who, dateless Saturday night, was hunched over some misbegotten book, some study book, on Sunday feeling all dejected. And how about this, some two, or maybe three-timing gal who berated her ever-loving boyfriend because she needs a good talking to, or worst, a now socially incorrect "beating" in Joanie Sommers’ Johnny Get Angry.
Reviewing the material again gave me the same flash-back feeling I felt listening to girl doo wop sounds back then. I will give examples of that for this volume, and this approach will drive the reviews of all five of these volumes in the series. Yah, for starters what is a girl-shy boy to make of a song that when some big-voiced woman is telling one and all that her man is no good just because he was catting around on her in Betty Everett’s Your No Good; or some girl all chained up by a guy (not S&M stuff but worst, in a way, chains of mixed-up love) in Chains by The Cookies; or get all weepy about the trauma of a girl who is boy-less all summer by a girl-less guy for all seasons in It Might As Well Rain Until September by Carole King.
And how could a young ragamuffin get catch a break listening to some girl spreading the glad tidings about her new found love in the girls' lav Monday morning before school when one and all bared their trophy weekends in I'm Into Something Good by Earl-Jean; or, the same kind of message, except maybe at the local pizza parlor, in I've Told Every Little Star by Linda Scott. And it goes on and on. Christ, even guys wearing pink shoe laces and looking like some goof had their devotees in Pink Shoe Laces by Dodie Stevens (but what about no song poor boy, plaid flannel-shirted, black chinos with cuffs, Thom McAn-shoed guy, no way right). And the love eternal love-style songs were worst, for example, a giggling, gaffing girl all plushed up by her boy in I Love How You Love Me by The Paris Sisters. Jesus, that could have been me.
And is there a place for such a lad even in the love’s trials and tribulations-type songs like when the moon took a holiday from looking out for lovers in Dark Moon by Bonnie Guitar; or when it didn’t in You by The Aquatones and was absolutely beaming in the incredible paean to everlasting love, 'Til by The Angels. Hell, even no account, long gone, no stamps, no stationary, no pen, no time to write Eddie has someone pining over him, pining big time, in Eddie My Love by The Teen Queens. And Eddie was nothing but long gone and never coming back guy who took what he could take, took it easy, and left no forwarding address. But the one that gets me, gets me big time, is a total song homage by some sweet girl just because he is her guy in Dedicated To The One I Love by The Shirelles. Lordy, lord.
So you get the idea, this stuff could not “speak to me.” Now you understand, right? Except, surprise, surprise foolish, behind the eight- ball, know-nothing youthful guy had it all wrong and should have been listening, and listening like crazy, to these lyrics because, brothers and sisters, they held the key to what was what about what was on girls’ minds back in the day, and maybe now a little too, and if I could have decoded this I would have had, well, the beginning of knowledge, girl knowledge. Damn. But that is one of the virtues, and maybe the only virtue of age. Yah, and also get this- you had better get your do-lang, do-lang, your shoop, shoop, and your best be-bop, be-bop into that good night voice out and sing along to the lyrics of the songs presented here. This, fellow baby-boomers, was the time of our teen angst, teen alienation, teen love youth and now this stuff sounds great. And from girls even.