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The Coasters used Carl Gardner's tragicomic high and Will "Dub" Jones' low voices to create sly tales of teen rebellion and frustration ("Yakety Yak," "Charlie Brown," "What About Us") pop culture commentary ("Along Came Jones," "Searchin" with its lists of classic detectives) and even salacious humor ("Little Egypt," "Young Blood," "Poison Ivy.") Kids still gravitate to these songs ("Yakety Yak" was used in a recent anti-litter campaign) , which expressed their ennui and even cynicism in clever, humorous ways. In their song "That Is Rock and Roll" the Coasters even announce as much, saying, "You say the music's for the birds and you can't understand the words...but honey if you did, you'd really blow your lid..."
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote, produced, and played on most of these hits, which also featured stellar sax work by the legendary King Curtis. Leiber and Stoller borrowed the sound and feel of early radio dramas for these hits, mentioning lifting the "Gangbusters" opening for "Riot in Cell Block #9"). Small wonder years decades later they'd form the highlights of "Smokey Joe's Café," a Broadway show named for their hit with the pre-Coasters Robins.
Carl Gardner continued leading versions of the Coasters into the modern era, re-recording these songs on occasion live and in studio. Buy only Coasters CDs released on the Atlantic, Atco or, in this case, Rhino labels to be assured the original hits. Better still, seek these songs among the essential mid-80s, seven-volume "Atlantic Rhythm and Blues Collection" (now out of print) to enjoy them amid even more outstanding music of the era.
The Coasters - like The Cadillacs - preferred the lighter side of things back then - and back then their songs played well. Today they would not be considered as "standards" in the same sense as, say, In The Still Of The Night by The Five Satins, but for those of us who like nostalgia, or who collect hits from that era, this is a nice little package from Rhino which digitally re-masters an original Atlantic (Atco) album, complete with four pages of liner notes written by the well-kmnown author Randy Poe (Skydog: The Duane Allman Story, Music Publishing: A Song Writer's Guid, and Squeeze My lemn: A Collection Of Classic Blues Lyrics are just a few of his books) offering snippets of information on each selection. The insert also contains a discography of the contents.
Among hard-to-find Coasters' hits in this compilation are I'm A Hog For You, the flipside of Poison Ivy in 1959 and a # 38 Billboard Pop Hot 100 on its own, and What About Us? - the flip of Run Red Run in 1960 and a # 17 R&B/#47 Hot 100 on its own. I only wish they had included one extra track and added Wait A Minute [# 37 Hot 100 in 1961] which remains elusive.
For those of you who know The Coasters and want just a few of their hit singles this is a good buy. If you don't go back that far and are merely curious as to the evolution of the lighter side of R&R, this is as good a place to start as any. "Fee fee fi fi, fo fo fum .. I smell smoke in the auditorium ... Charlie Brown ..." Enjoy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Typecast as clowns, it's fair game to say they were singing for laughs. But the Coasters could sing. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Dave Fever Tree Sigmon
This was better than I remembered. Perhaps because this time around I'm paying more attention to the music that what the girls are doing. A very pleasant surprise.Published 2 months ago by bearfat