Street Corner Symphonies: The Complete Story of Doo Wop, Vol. 4 (1952)

As Bill Dahl points out in his terrific liner notes for the fourth volume of Bear Family's ongoing doo wop history Street Corner Symphonies, 1952 finds the rise of independent labels specializing in vocal harmony and R&B. They filled the gap left by the slowly retreating major labels and, as they did, they capitalized on the growing shift toward gospel and blues-inflected harmony groups. Again the Dominoes, fronted by Clyde McPhatter, lead the charge but right alongside them were the "5" Royales, whose robust harmonies were rowdier and churchier than those of the Dominoes, and showcased to great effect on "Baby Don't Do It." While there are, as always, quite a lot of sweet, slow harmonies, overall the rhythms are changing and getting livelier, a shift heard quite clearly in the Clovers, the Diamonds, and the Heartbreakers. Things are starting to rock, doo wop is coming into view, and the results are pretty exciting. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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