Trying To Get To You

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Acapella White Soul Of The Belmonts

I’ve always thought that 50’s rock has the short end of the critical stick. It's simplicity and unpretentiousness is often confused for lack of depth But the range of rock, r&b, and pop that emerged in the second half of the decade is some of the most awe-inspiring American music there has ever been.

Besides the “founding fathers” of rock and r&b – Elvis, Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, et al, I’ve always had an enormous love for Doo-Wop. The beauty of the voices and harmonies in Doo-Wop have always occurred for me as some of the most impossibly romantic pieces in the rock canon – and some of the best. And included in that canon have to be Dion and the Belmonts.

The Belmonts had a illustrious career backing Dion in the 50’s, with hits like “I Wonder Why,” “Teenager In Love,” and “The Wanderer.” But as Dion’s heroin habit grew in the 60’s, the Belmonts left to go on their own. They had a couple of hits on their own in the 60’s, and then broke up.

Reuniting in the early 70’s at the dawn of the first rock n’ roll revival, they released what I consider to be the greatest acapella album ever, Cigars, Acapella, Candy. With an eclectic group of covers including hits from the 50's, 60's and early 70's, the arrangements are brilliant and immensely moving. "Street Corner Symphony," the last track on the record, is a mind-blowing medley of 50's hits that is so beautifully arranged that you might just laugh with pleasure at how fine it is. It's an album that never fails to please, and it gets my highest recommendation.

Buy Cigars, Acapella, Candy at Amazon

Download: "Da Doo Ron Ron"

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