Liner Note Author: Bill Dahl.
Illustrators: Stefan Wriedt; Charlie Horner; R.A. Andreas; Pamela Horner; Victor Pearlin; Billy Vera.
Photographers: Stefan Wriedt; Charlie Horner; R.A. Andreas; Pamela Horner; Victor Pearlin; Billy Vera.
The second volume of Bear Family's exhaustive, multi-volume doo wop series Street Corner Symphonies reaches 1950, which gets us closer to the glory days of doo wop, but we're still basically in the style's prehistory. Here, the sounds of popular black vocal harmony groups were still aligned with big-band crooning, so they were sweet and dreamy, but the emerging newer groups added some real R&B swing to their rhythms. These were the Ravens, the Clovers, the Orioles, the Dominoes -- the groups that definitely stand out among the 30 cuts on this generous history lesson. And it's the Dominoes, fronted by the glorious Clyde McPhatter, who cut through the pretty, hazy harmonies, his transcendent tenor giving the Dominoes a sexy, earthy energy that helped shift vocal harmony groups into the doo wop era. The other groups had the rhythms, but the Dominoes had that extra sexual jolt via McPhatter, something that's apparent from the music that surrounds it here on Street Corner Symphonies, Vol. 2. This is still a steady march toward doo wop, so it may not truly captivate listeners looking for jumping and rocking rhythms, but it's a valuable, detailed, necessary piece of popular music history. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine