If the tenth volume of Bear Family's Street Corner Symphonies captured doo wop at perhaps its commercial peak, the moment when dreamy ballads and swinging novelties vied for the top of the charts, Street Corner Symphonies, Vol. 11: 1959 marks where the style started to evolve far away from the street corner harmonies that provided much of its beginning. Those creamy harmonies are still evident here, particularly in the Flamingos' "I Only Have Eyes for You," which is a strong contender for greatest doo wop single ever, but there are also interesting permutations of this style, whether it's Huey Smith & the Clowns bringing it down to New Orleans for "Dearest Darling," the Dells laying the groundwork for smooth soul on "Dry Your Eyes" or the Shirelles spinning it into girl group gold on "Dedicated All the Way Home." There are also a number of rousing numbers driven by rock & roll rhythms and layered with interwoven harmonies -- the Impalas' "Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)" being a prime example of this -- and there are other touches of rock & roll, such as Dion & the Belmonts' "A Teenager in Love" which brings to mind the sweet ballads of Ricky Nelson, and Little Anthony & the Imperials also are given a grand, grooving production on "Shimmy, Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop," a style that would grow stronger early in the '60s. Then there were the novelties, driven by the peerless Coasters -- here represented by one of their greatest, "Charlie Brown" -- who were lovingly mimicked by the Clovers on "Love Potion No. 9," but there are also such oddities as the Boss-Tones' "Mope-Itty Mope" and, separately, the down-and-dirty dance craze "(Baby) Hully Gully" by the Olympics. It's a great variety of sounds and, consequently, one of the most entertaining volumes in this excellent series.
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