Did you ever notice how real, hardcore doo wop fanatics sometimes seem a little...unbalanced, even nuts? This 24-song CD explains why that is, and it is for the best of all possible reasons -- because the real devotees of the sound know, in their hearts as well as their minds, that they're mapping a creative iceberg, of which perhaps ten percent (if that) was ever visible to the public at large, while the other nine-tenths were hidden, and that a lot of the acts in that hidden 90 percent were at least as deserving of recognition as the ten percent who got a grab at the brass ring. Chop Chop Boom is credited to the Dandeliers, but they actually account for only eight of the songs here -- the disc is actually a superb compilation of some of the best music ever to come out of States Records, an offshoot of Chicago's United Records. In addition to eight very hot sides cut by the Dandeliers, who hailed from Chicago, the disc also features five sides left behind by the Cleveland-spawned Hornets, featuring future Drifters mainstay Johnny Moore; the Five Chances; the Palms; the Strollers; and the Drakes. The Dandeliers material is far and away the strongest group of songs here, the group showing great range and power on the rhythm numbers ("She's Mine," "Shu-Wop," "Chop Chop Boom") and exceptional panache on the ballads ("Loving Partner," "May God Be With You"). And although they're not quite up to the same standard as the Dandeliers, the Hornets' five songs, starting with the B-side "Lonesome Baby," are well worth hearing for their actual qualities and not their sheer obscurity. This was obviously a quartet with a lot of potential in both directions; the harmonizing on "You Played the Game" is close to exquisite, though their forte was clearly the harder rhythm numbers, including "Ridin' and Rockin'." The Strollers were also better at the rhythm numbers, and so good that their "Go Where My Baby Lives" is worth the price of admission by itself -- it's got an infectious beat and lyric, and the harmony vocal/saxophone call and response in the middle is catchy on its own terms (and the sax solo that follows suitably hot as well). It's impossible to judge them, or the Drakes and the Palms, based on the mere pair or trio of tracks represented here, although none would have been out of place on the R&B (or even the pop charts) at some points between 1953 and 1957. "Girl of Mine" by the Palms is, except for its unusually assertive guitar break, almost a throwback to '40s harmony vocal pop, and so good-natured in spirit despite its sexual subject matter that one can imagine it just sneaking onto the pop listings (though, more likely, it would have been a cover by the Crew Cuts that made those listings). Some of the best is saved for the end -- "Sugar Lips" by the Five Chances is as fine a doo wop dance number as any that made the charts, and might lead nearly anyone (dancer or not) to try out a few steps while listening to it. The sound is excellent throughout and the notes by Robert Pruter tell as much as is known about most of these acts, all of which are essential listening for fans of '50s music in general, as well as R&B harmony vocal records.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder