Though it was the forgotten third of rock'n'roll for a long while, doo wop never quite went away, and recent years have seen it growing to previous unknown heights in Britain and Germany especially. Since their appearance on Pittsburgh's Doo Wop 50 show, four guys based in Florida have found themselves busier than ever. Four men from some of the original groups of the 50s and 60s have united to sing the music they love.
Bass singer Steve Horn, from the Five Sharks, takes up the story, "The main motivation for us to get together was me. I was already singing with the Del Vikings, and then went to sing with Frankie in the Imaginations for two years. We called it quits when Frankie's wife died, but after a while I asked if he was ready to sing again, and I was delighted when he said yes." Steve then engaged in some chicanery to put together the group by telling Jimmy Gallagher (original lead singer of the Passions) and Tony Passalacqua (original lead singer of the Fascinators) that each other had committed to join the new group! "I lied to each of them, but when we finally got together to practise for a show - it was MAGIC! We all fit just right, and they were happy I had lied to them!"
Working largely within the early 60s white East Coast group sound, the quartet maintains a remarkably young sounding vocal blend, as the strength of their voices remains undimmed despite the passage of years. There is also the question of their considerable vocal versatility. Frankie Mancuso sings the first or second tenor parts mainly, Tony can take baritone, second or first tenor, and Jimmy also takes either tenor. Steve usually anchors everything with his rich bass, but also wanders into baritone or even second tenor at times.
They dipped back into their various groups' extensive catalogues for the material on this CD, and so excellent new versions of the Fascinators' Oh Rose Marie, the Imaginations' The Search Is Over, Guardian Angel and The Mystery Of You. To these were added the Passions' Just To Be With You, This Is My Love and Gloria which was common to Jimmy's group and The Five Sharks. For this Ace release five newly recorded tracks have been added to the original fourteen, and for these the Legends have dipped back into the mid-50s to cover the Jesters' Please Let Me Love You, the Magnificents' Up On The Mountain, and the Heartbeats' Your Way. The better known Stereos' 1961 song I Really Love You also gets a great workover, as does the evergreen White Cliffs Of Dover.
The Legends are delighted with the overwhelming reaction they have been getting from venues as diverse as Las Vegas and Wichita, Kansas, and are now making plans to cut another album of all new material and a Christmas collection for next year. They would love to come to Europe and play to the fans that they have already gathered over here, and, given the talent and sheer joy of harmony singing that is so evident in their work, Europe's ever-growing band of doo woppers would love to see them here. This joyous release could well be the start of something big!
By Kingsley Abbott