The Real Beginning of Rock andRoll
Richard Hirschman | Stow, OH USA | 06/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rock and Roll of today did not begin with and was not shaped exclusively by the most marketable stars, like Elvis Presley or by rock performers from the '60's and '70s, as seen, for example, in the emphasis on them in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.(Economics should not drive artistic history, but unfortunately it often does.) Rock and Roll began with and continues to be greatly influenced by rhythm and blues and doo wop, which, in turn, were shaped by other cultural and social forces. This dvd is a great introduction to that music and, as such, adds something important to an historical record severely tainted by economics and an inaccurate, culturally slanted perspective. The production of the dvd is first-rate (I have no connection with the company that makes them), with interviews from important historical figures and musical innovators, such as, Jimmy Merchant from the Teenagers, Pookie Hudson from the Spaniels and Earl "Speedo" Carroll from the Cadillacs. There also is some fine music on this dvd with large chunks from the songs. One gets a sense from this dvd of how badly these creative, young stars and innovators were ripped off financially by the powers that be. Overall, this dvd is a nice introduction to the history and music of doo wop. Hopefully White Star will produce more dvds that focus on the history of this important and wonderful-to-listen-to music. There is so much more to tell, and so much of it has been unjustly ignored and not given proper emphasis in the history of rock and roll."
Richard Hirschman | 05/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Hopefully this is just the beginning of the much needed telling of the story of vocal group harmony. This is a well done documentary about the roots of vocal grouo harmony and the trials and tribulations the artists had to endure during this period of racial indifference and the love of the music. I encourage all who buy this DVD to write to the producers and tell them to keep 'em coming!!!"
Don't waste your money on this DVD
E. M. Victorino | 12/20/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This video has no redeeming value. It's nothing but a lot of narrating-talk-talk-talk-and very little entertaiment. There are only brief appearances of all the stars that are mention in the description. Myself, I want to be entertained by these singers and this does not happen. People don't waste your money on this-untless you enjoy a lot of talking."
New listeners begin here
Pismotality | London, England | 04/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A pretty good and faithful account of the rise and fall of the harmony group. More could be said about the music's origins but you do see clearly how doo wop singing works in practice: footage of revival groups watching each other while singing bears out Ben E King's remark that singing in a group was like "one big heartbeat ... those guys knew when you were going to breathe."
There's an impressive roster of interviewees but Canadian funding (presumably) means a member of the white group the Diamonds gets to rattle on with no mention of the fact they covered songs and didn't take the form that seriously (though there is a telltale B&W clip where they are goofing around while singing).
The rise and fall of Frankie Lymon (drawing, I believe, on a PBS documentary), prejudice on the road and other aspects are covered too - some major stars are quite matter-of-fact about the way they were ripped off (though they've had decades to get their heads round it).
What unites almost all commentators, however, is a real love for the form, and the final sequence - a variegated bunch of singers harmonising on Smokey Robinson's My Girl ("Eat your heart out, Temptations!") tells you all you need to know about this singing, the teenagers (as well as the Teenagers) caught up in a groundswell of simple joy - though there is an irony, unremarked and presumably unintended, about the fact that this is a Motown song - ie one of the companies who may have valued the voice but whose sophisticated production values and backing musos helped put paid to doo wop - though the British Invasion contributed too, as one DJ remembers: "Things changed," he says, simply - and again you have a sense that the afficiandos have had a long, long time to accept the fact that while this music may never go away it is unlikely ever to be a huge force again.
There are no extras on the DVD but I'd definitely recommend it as a starting point for learning about the genre: new listeners can safely begin here.