"Duke of Earl" is either one of the last doo wop classics or a link between doo wop and early-'60s soul, depending upon how you look at it. Certainly Gene Chandler went on to do a lot more soul music than he did doo wop. Whatever the case, it was one of the most memorable and successful songs of 1962, reaching #1 on both the R&B and pop charts. Most listeners do remember it principally for the part of the song that's most doo woppish -- the unforgettable opening chant, in which a hoarse low voice repeats "Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl" in a classic descending doo wop melody. The voice almost sounds as if it's putting itself on, so quasi-dorky is its earnest repetition of a meaningless phrase. It's soon joined, however, by a whole chorus of singers harmonizing on the phrase. Those opening riffs are so strong, in fact, that they rather overwhelm the basic verses, in which Chandler croons like conceited royalty. Yet the chorus is almost as memorable as the opening riff, exploding into a jubilant yet haunting passage, ending with Chandler's exclamation "I'm the Duke of Earl." At that point, too, the bass singer counterpoints Chandler with some particularly appropriate stuttering "mum mum-mum"s. And so it goes for the rest of the song, but the several repetitions of the opening riff and chorus are classic enough to carry the day. Chandler does climb into some nice winding falsetto at some points too. Exactly who the Duke of Earl is isn't explained -- it's sufficient to note that he's a duke, and that nothing's going to stop him from making his girl his duchess. A classic fun if slightly silly song, the original arrangement of "Duke of Earl" is so distinctive that there haven't been many covers, although Curtis Mayfield and New Edition were among the more notable stars to try; oldies act Sha Na Na, unsurprisingly, also recorded it.