Compiling a musical anthology by race doesn't seem a smart move, since it forces assumptions on listeners and challenges them to seek out the differences that separate the music of one race from that of another, whether those differences exist or not. Yes, the Collectables compilation Vanilla Doo Wop is a very unified set, thematically and musically, since it spotlights a very specific brand of white doo wop that flourished during the late '50s and early '60s. These groups were influenced by the dreamy balladry of the Penguins and Flamingos instead of the rollicking good times of the Coasters and Dominoes, and they usually recorded similar material, shimmering songs that treated love as a faraway destination they hoped one day to visit. Such is the vision of teen fascination and ennui on the Safaris' "Image of a Girl," the Classics' "Till Then," and the Capris' "There's a Moon Out Tonight," three of the better lesser-known doo wop ballads of the era. None of them are rare; they've made the rounds of doo wop compilations for decades, so if you need them, grab them, here or elsewhere. Ironically, the highlight comes from a non-doo wop group -- the delightfully ramshackle "I've Had It" by the Bell Notes.
AllMusic Review by John Bush
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