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"Sound of the City"

Click to buy at Amazon.com Reviewed by Terry Cochran

A new 3-CD box set called "Sound of the City" captures the street-corner harmonies of the late 1950's and early 1960's, as heard in the New York area. This set does not include all of the great doo wop groups, but it does have those from the Bronx like Dion & the Belmonts, from Jersey like the Four Seasons, from Brooklyn like the Tokens, and from Staten Island like the Elegants.

As Dion says in the liner notes, "It was Black music filtered through an Italian neighborhood, so it just naturally came out with a different attitude." Included in the 59 tracks are classic doo wop hits like "Little Star" by the Elegants, "Hushabye" by the Mystics, "16 Candles" by the Crests, and "There's A Moon Out Tonight" by the Capris.

Also included are a number of top 40 hits that crossed over from doo wop into rock 'n' roll, like "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" by the Four Seasons, the original "Barbara Ann" by the Regents, "A Teenager In Love" by Dion & the Belmonts, and the classic "Runaround Sue" by Dion.

Now at this point, you may be saying "So what? I've already got all o' those," but that's where this collection shines. For example, there are two numbers by an early incarnation of the Four Seasons (then known as the Four Lovers), plus the first ever recording by Dion, "Rooftop Serenade", which was previously unreleased.

What makes the collection truly valuable, though, are a number of regional hits which never received the national airtime they deserved. As a midwestern boy, I don't recall hearing much of these great New York numbers, such as:

  • "Be My Girl (Please Be Mine)" by the Four Evers -- outstanding!
  • "Have You Heard" by the Duprees -- classic harmonies
  • "Those Oldies But Goodies (Remind Me Of You)" by Nino & the Ebb Tides -- much better than the charted version by Little Caesar & the Romans
  • "Coney Island Baby" by the Excellents
  • "He's In Town" by the Tokens
  • "Please Love Me Forever" by Cathy Jean & the Roommates

So if you have 3 hours or so to spend on a little trip down memory lane, I recommend "Sound of the City", a worthwhile addition to any Baby Boomer's collection!

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