CONCERT REVIEW: Doo-wop classics recall the Golden Oldies

Print This Page

First Posted: 5/20/2013

Poodle skirts, beehive hairdos, pompadours, and ducktails were back in style Saturday, May 18 as the Golden Oldies of the 1950s and early 1960s filled the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts.

“Doo Wop, Volume 6,” the latest installment of Joe Nardone’s popular series, brought back the music and memories of the formative years of rock ‘n’ roll as The Spaniels, Willie Winfield and The Harptones, Jimmy Clanton, Jay Siegel’s Tokens, The Passions, and Kenny Vance and the Planotones got together at the Wilkes-Barre theater.

The Spaniels, a doo-wop group formed in the early 1950s in Gary, Ind., were first to the stage and closed out its 20-minute segment with its biggest hit, “Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite” from 1954. “But don’t go anywhere,” the lead singer said.

“The show’s not over yet.”

In fact, it was just getting underway as the evening’s second group, The Harptones, which still feature original lead singer Willie Winfield, took over with the Motown classic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

The quartet, consisting of three males and one female singer, then did nice renditions of its own hits “Since I Fell For You,” “Life Is But a Dream,” and “A Sunday Kind of Love” before finishing up with another Motown classic, “Get Ready.”

Next up was Jimmy Clanton, the now 72-year-old former teen idol who first hit the charts in 1958 with “Just a Dream.” Clanton told stories of working with Neil Sedaka on “Another Sleepless Night” as a follow-up to his first single and with Carole King, who arranged his 1962 smash “Venus in Blue Jeans.”

“There were a few songs I came across in my 55-year career where I wish I would have gotten to them first,” he said as an introduction to his rendition of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me.”

“I would have given my hind teeth to get that one first.”

Jay Siegel’s Tokens, which incidentally originally featured his classmate Sedaka, then took the stage with “Tonight I Fell in Love,” the group’s first hit from 1961, and followed with that record’s B-side, “I’ll Always Love You.”

Jay Traynor, a current member of The Tokens and original lead singer of Jay & The Americans, sang lead on Dion’s “The Wanderer” and The Temptations’ “My Girl” before bringing the crowd to its feet with his note-perfect rendition of his former group’s first big hit, “She Cried.”

Siegel then took the lead vocal duties back for 1967’s “Portrait of My Love” and his group’s biggest hit, 1961’s No.1 smash “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

“They included that in ‘The Lion King’ and we got a whole new crowd of five-year-olds at our shows,” Siegel said. “In fact, true story, my granddaughter, when she was five years old, took me into her kindergarten class for show and tell.”

His version of his signature tune, still in its original key of F, again brought the crowd to its feet as it sang “Wimoweh” in unison.

Following intermission, The Passions, a doo-wop group from Brooklyn which still features three original members, including Jimmy Gallagher on lead vocals, then got the audience singing and clapping along again with an entertaining 20-minute set. The Passions scored big with “This Is My Love” and “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” before finishing strongly with its signature tune, “Just to Be with You.”

Another original member of Jay & The Americans, Kenny Vance, then brought the show to a close with his group The Planotones, singing many doo-wop and early rock ‘n’ roll classics such as “I’ve Had It” and “In the Still of the Night” before treating the crowd to his signature tune, “Looking for an Echo.”