Not all of the fantastic catalogue of CD releases from Ace are necessarily easy to categorise. Occasionally a surprise might sneak up on you that defies description. And that was precisely the idea behind this little number. My co-compiler, the irrepressible Mr Armstrong, sat opposite me nearly two years ago and told me he had been brewing up an idea. This was not going to be an easy task, and would take a man with a strong will and steady mind. I steeled myself against the unnerving glint in his eye as he spoke.
The whole point of this meisterwork was never the question: is it R&B? Is it doo wop? Is it garage? More, what does it mean? Why did they do it? Do they know something we don't? The answers are in fact simpler than you might think. Yes, it's R&B-.-yes, it's doo wop-.-yes, it's garage, and it's a lot more. And the meaning? It's the meaning of life itself. And, yes, these artists were in command of some arcane knowledge not usually at the average working stiff's disposal. But, pray, give this amazing CD your ears for an afternoon ... and your enquiring mind will be soothed into blissful acquiescence.
Where else might you find the likes of the Rivingtons, J J Jackson, the Chips and The Gamma Goochee Himself, all delivering their respective nutty concoctions, all on one collection? What about some of the great vocal groups, the Penguins, Bobbettes, Magic Tones and Imperials, with an assortment of their more esoteric and less known sides? Some of rock'n'roll's greatest movers and shakers are present in the shape of Larry Williams, Little Richard, Don & Dewey and LaVern Baker. R&B, if you'll pardon my splitting hairs for a moment, is represented by Don Covay during his incarnation as 'Pretty Boy', Jessie Hill, Dolly Cooper and Richard Berry.
Richard Berry, he of the infamous Louie Louie (which doubtless would have found its way onto this collection had it not been for the fact that it earned an entire CD of its own), gets to sing Yama Yama Pretty Mama, which by the way is an alternative take, previously unheard until we unearthed it among the session tapes. Most of you know the great sequence of Rivingtons songs starting with Papa Oom Mow Mow. Here you get the terrific follow-up, Mama Oom Mow Mow.
There are some nice bonuses here for the collectors. The version of Heeby Jeebies by Larry Williams was first issued on a vinyl album in the mid-80s and appears here for the first time on CD. The Chips' Rubber Biscuit appeared on the soundtrack of the movie Mean Streets, but can anyone remember the TV ad it was used in? Sorry, no prizes. News has just reached me that the track was issued on a US release titled 'Doo Wop for Children'. The mind boggles! Little Richard's Bama Lama Bama Loo comes in previously unreleased alternative form, and the guitar break (was it Glen Willings or Dewey Terry?) is wilder than the single master, which was the following take.
The chronological range of the music on this CD (still trying to pin it down), is from 1945, with Marion Abernathy (The Blues Woman) singing Voo-it Voo-it, to Gamma Goochee Himself giving us The Gamma Goochee in 1965. In between we get such mind-warping concepts as Ookey Ook (a dance apparently), Bip Bop Bip, Um Bow Bow, Bim Bam, Ting Ting Boom Scat, Du-Bi-A-Do, Oochie Pachie, Mamo Mamo (The Marsmen anyone?), Ay La Bah and Oo-Ma-Liddi.
While LaVern Baker weaves her magic in Voodoo Voodoo, Little Anthony sings one of his biggest oldie hits, Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop, which apparently he opined was stupid". Where on Earth did he get that idea?
One of the great contributors I neglected to mention is Claude McLin. Much respect must be paid to this tenor saxman, who enjoyed an illustrious yet unassuming career in Chicago during the 40's. His schedule was no less busy in the City of Angels in the 50's, when he continued to work jazz and R&B sessions, while finding time to release some sides under his own name for Aladdin, Dootone and others. Yet, nothing could be quite like the oddity we've included (had to!) on this collection, namely Jambo, from 1963. A smooth yet spirited cocktail jazz combo swing behind the man himself as he solos on top with a jews harp melody, but not with a jews harp, with his voice! After you've enjoyed this tour-de-force, you'll be amazed at the extra bonus version we've included for your further delight ... but I'm not divulging anything here.
Have I left anybody out? Well, yes, as a matter of fact. Plenty! I hope I've wetted your appetite. This is a collection for your next party, your next house demolition session, or the next time you fancy staring at the hi-fi with your mouth kinda slack, your head moving side to side, and your eyes bulging gently.
Our title is taken from the track by Tom & Jerrio, Great Googa Mooga, and for good measure we've also included the Magic Tones' Good Googa Mooga, which is just as great. By the way, if you want to hear the Spaniels' singing Great Googly Moo ... you'll have to wait till volume 2. And that's giving too much away!
Now, all that remains is for you to find a copy of this at your local good (googa?) record shop, grab from rack, tightly grip with both fists, go to nice person behind counter, smile and nod, say "Me buy", and good luck!
By Brian Nevill"