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

  • 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 […]
  • Your Interview with the Jayhawks' Gary Louris
    A couple of weeks ago, we announced a contest to give away some copies of the Jayhawks' remastered and reissued editions of Sound of Lies, Smile, and Rainy Day Music. In the process, we asked you to pose questions you'd like to see Jayhawks founding member Gary Louris answer. Fifty folks entered and Jayhawk Gary Louris… […]
  • Bill Frisell and “The Great Flood”
    I feel late to the game with Bill Frisell, discovering him around the time of East/West and just after The Intercontinentals.  We all have those moments of discovering something that is so beautiful and so complete (and even  quite popular), but… […]
  • Lake Street Dive Motorboats into the Big Time
    The usual pleasantries open the interview with Lake Street Dive's singer extraordinaire, Rachael Price. There’s a mention of a shared acquaintance and a nod to the band's previous appearances in town, the first before a tiny crowd at Norfolk's Taphouse in 2011. "Oh, I recall," Price says. "That was a very memorable show." I […]
  • Dailey & Vincent Thrill Standing Room Only Ryman Auditorium Crowd
    The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., played host to a standing room only crowd for IBMA stalwarts and Grammy winners, Dailey & Vincent. The intimate feeling and otherworldly acoustics brought out a richness in classic bluegrass and rootsy songs. Other than the Ryman, the highlights obviously were Dailey & Vincent’s harmonies, but there was the a […]
  • Chris Smither - Still on the Levee, A Fifty Year Retrospective (Album Review)
    I first heard Chris Smither in 1970. Not live, unfortunately, but on vinyl when picking up his first record I'm A Stranger Here Myself on the Poppy label, unheard, for the simple reason that it was Townes' label. I figured -- rightly so -- any label that knew what a talent he was could certainly be trusted. It did not disappoint. The album not only […]

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