Music City Vocal Groups: Greasy Love Songs of Teenage Romance, Regret, Hope and Despair
Music City Vocal Groups: Greasy Love Songs of Teenage Romance, Regret, Hope and Despair is a bit of an unwieldy title for Ace's second foray into the Music City vaults -- a collection of 1,500 reels of tape they now own outright -- but all those words do convey the spirit of the doo wop heard on this double-disc 2014 set. Nearly every one of these 50 songs is some variety of a love song, alternating between jubilation and heartache, but there are a couple of detours into religious material and even a "Salute to Johnny Ace" by the Rovers. If the name the Rovers doesn't ring a bell, perhaps the Marcels, the Chantels, and the Treniers will, but -- as Jim Dawson points out in his liner notes -- not one of these are the well-known doo wop groups. These are vocal groups from the West Coast, recorded in the Bay Area by record man Ray Dobard, who spun the label off from his record store. One of his specialties was doo wop and he recorded way more than he released, and these unheard sessions comprise the bulk of Music City Vocal Groups, accounting for 34 of the compilation's 50 tracks. The other 16 cuts are hardly well-known but they'll perhaps be familiar to hardcore doo wop collectors, who are the primary audience for this collection. Most of this is pretty dreamy stuff, to the point that it's almost sleepy, but there are pleasures to be had in the harmonies, if not quite the songs. Call it one for aficionados, then, and they'll find enough music here to make it worth their while.