The Crests – The Best of the Crests Featuring Johnny Mastro (Omnivore)
The Duprees – The Coed Singles (Omnivore)
The Duprees – The Coed Albums (Omnivore)
The Rivieras – The Coed Singles (Omnivore)
Adam Wade – The Coed Albums (Omnivore)
This fantastic music is back in print – sounding better than ever
Doo Wop is hallowed music. Mostly issued on small, independent record labels, original copies of this genre continue to trade hands for top dollar. And, enthusiasts are very picky when it comes to reissues. Never fear, Omnivore Recordings has just signed a deal with one such label, Coed Records out of New York – home to artists like the Crests, Duprees and Rivieras.
Omnivore has built a reputation for doing things right, and this is no exception. For the Duprees and Adam Wade, there are sets that compile a pair of albums by each, while the Crests set is a straight reissue of a classic, “best of” from back in the day. And, the sound quality and liner notes are phenomenal. No matter which one you choose, if you’re a fan of Doo Wop, you’ll be impressed.
Our favorite here is 16 Fabulous Hits from the Crests, who weren’t the first racially integrated group, but they were one of the first to have big success. Led by Johnny Mastro, of Italian-American descent, he was joined by African American first tenor Talmadge “Tommy” Gough and bass singer J.T. Carterand second tenor Harold “Chico” Torres, who was of Puerto Rican heritage.
Of the 16 tracks, only their cover of the Penguins’ classic “Earth Angel” was not included on one of the groups many Coed singles. The running order keeps things interesting, interspersing sweet ballads with more upbeat material. “16 Candles” was certainly their most enduring hit, peaking nationally at #2 on the Billboard charts. However, “Step By Step” cracked the Top 20 and should be familiar to any oldies fan, while “Six Nights a Week” and “The Angels Listened In” are both considered Doo Wop classics.
But there’s still more to this one. “Flower of Love” is a great number about a fickle young girl, while “Always You” really shows off Mastro’s vocal prowess (listen how he sings “forever more”).
Of the other sets, there’s plenty to love too. One of the original owners of CoEd was George Paxton, who was more of a fan of the big band/standards era that came before rock n’ roll. So, you get a fair amount of that material mixed in too. The Duprees’ do a clever reworking of “As Time Goes By,” while the Rivieras (not to be confused with the later group that did “California Sun”), do an interesting cover of Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade,” while Adam Wade’s set is full of standards like “Tenderly” and “Witchcraft,” but man, he had a great voice!
Never one to rest on their laurels, Omnivore enlisted Michael Graves to do the mastering on all the sets and he’s ensured that these treasured tracks sound the best they’ve ever sounded. Take, for instance, “16 Candles” by the Crests – it’s always had a certain muffled quality to every version out there. Here, the track is crystal clear. There’s tape hiss on even Ace’s Golden Age of Rock n’ Roll series versions of “You Belong to Me” and “My Own True Love” from the Duprees. Here, they’ve managed to isolate that hiss and remove it for even more fidelity.
Word is, there’s more to come from the CoEd vaults, so Doo Wop fans, stay tuned! —Tony Peters