Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #44 March-April 2003

Various Artists

Bang Goes My Heart: The Moroccos And Other Great Groups On United (Delmark)

Long before punk, new wave, or alt-anything, 1950s doo-wop was roots-rock’s D.I.Y. showcase. All you needed were a few teens with a range of voices — bass, baritone, tenor, falsetto. The songs, like the music, could come from the air: On-the-spot remakes of standards, or just collections of nonsense syllables created on a street corner. Or a combination of the two. It was, as Charlie Gillette called it in his seminal book, The Sound Of The City.

All but ignored by major labels, doo-wop thrived as indigenous regional, if not local, music, on shoestring labels. In Chicago in the 1950s, Chess and VeeJay knew their primary audience had come from the rural south, a culture of crossroads rather than street corners. Neither were dumb, however, so Chess had the Flamingos and the Moonglows, while VeeJay had the Spaniels and the El-Dorados, all seminal doo-wop groups.

Windy City entrepreneur Leonard Allen had two small labels from 1951 to 1957: United and, you guessed it, States. Recently, Chicago’s Delmark label, known for its blues and jazz recordings, has been releasing vocal group compilations from the United/States archives. Bang Goes My Heart is the most recent. Like its predecessor, the Dandeliers’ Chop Chop Boom, its value is partly that it exists at all. These tunes weren’t even big in Chicago, and went unheard elsewhere. Half a century after being recorded, obscurity has its rewards.

The uptempo novelty tunes on this generous 28-track set — which also features the Answers, the Sheppards and the Pastels — beat the ballads, with one exception: the Moroccos’ ever so poignant “What Is A Teenagers Prayer?” The best performances are turned in by the Sheppards: “Sherry” has wonderful bass-through-falsetto acceleration, while the earthy, energetic singing in “Pretty Little Girl” benefits from a stirring piano backdrop.

Though neither these Sheppards nor Pastels are the groups with identical names that established renown, their insignificance is undeserved, if not unexpected. Consider that the Moroccos were so named not because they loved the movie Casablanca, but because there was a set of maracas in the studio. Delmark hasn’t unearthed the ninth wonder of the world, but like almost any quality doo-wop that resurfaces from the ether, it has the virtue of an archaeological dig that’s easy to dig.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #44 March-April 2003

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Ray LaMontagne at the Woods at Fontanel (Nashville, Tenn. – July 25, 2014)
    Ray LaMontagne writes great songs and makes great records. And that's certainly no small feat. His live shows, though, while being technically and musically superlative, really don't leave the audience with a whole lot to hang on to other than the technique and the music. There's no personal engagement on LaMontagne's part. It's as i […]
  • Freight Train Boogie Show #264 features new music from Old Crow Medicine Show, Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes
    FTB Show #264 features the new album by Old Crow Medicine Show called Remedy.  Also new music from Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes. Here's the iTunes link to subscribe to the FTB podcasts.  Here's the direct link to … […]
  • Vancouver International Folk Festival Day Two (Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC - July 19th, 2014)
    While Friday night at the Vancouver Folk Festival focuses on main stage performances, the rest of the weekend on the sprawling festival grounds of Jericho Beach is as notable for its smaller workshop performances. This was especially true this year. This particular Saturday started with the official public announcement of Joan Baez's cancellation. Perha […]
  • Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery - Man Is Born for Trouble (Album Review)
    The origin story of Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery is pivotal for an appreciation of Powell’s music. The name, inspired by the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery, the first silent western committed to celluloid, evokes Powell’s affinity for history, American aestheticism, and art that has passed through generations and endured technological revol […]
  • By the Time You Read This, It'll Be Over: A Pre-Newport Ramble
    Missing the first night -- likely the best of the three, given my taste and interest -- is sort of a bummer. But, on the other hand there's still two more days and nights to wander around the festival site, to hopefully discover a new act or the reinvention of something old. And, to be completely honest, the music and performances will run second to jus […]
  • Well Crafted, The “Not To Be Missed” Music Festival of 2014
    Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill located in pristine Harrodsburg, Kentucky plays host to what is shaping up to be the best Americana music festival of 2014.  Well Crafted, August 8-9 2014, couples some of the best musical talent in our beloved scene with the fine frothy libations of Kentucky’s local Craft Beer creators.  Shaker Steps Productions’ Derek Feldma […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter