Doo Wop Heaven

When a magazine's name carries a lot of weight, labels are more than happy to use that name as a marketing tool. Hot Rod Magazine has a strong following, and The Right Stuff was well aware of that when, in the late '90s, it launched a series of compilations that used Hot Rod's logo. The Hot Rod Magazine series has turned its attention to everything from heavy metal to country. This 14-song collection, released in 2000, focuses on major doo wop hits of the '50s and early '60s. Unfortunately, The Right Stuff fails to provide liner notes and doesn't list any recording dates or release dates. But the sound quality is good, and the selections are generally first-rate. Some of them, in fact, are definitive, including the Five Satins' "In the Still of the Night," the Penguins' "Earth Angel," Randy & the Rainbows' "Denise" (which Blondie covered in 1977), Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers' "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," and the Mystics' "Hushabye." Dion & the Belmonts' "I Wonder Why" is Italian-American doo wop at its finest, and the dreamy harmonies that the Flamingos provide on their 1959 interpretation of the standard "I Only Have Eyes for You" had a major impact on the sweet soul groups that emerged in the '60s. A few of the tunes fall short of essential; the Five Keys' goofy "Ling Ting Tong" is a mildly amusing novelty item but hardly qualifies as a classic. For the most part, however, Doo Wop Heaven lives up to its name. ~ Alex Henderson

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