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The Crew Cuts

On most informed lists of rock & roll villains, the Crew Cuts would have to rank near the top. They weren't rock & rollers in the first place: their clean-cut white harmony glee club approach was really in the style of early- and mid-'50s groups such as the Four Aces, the Four Lads, and the Four Freshmen. The Canadian quartet differed from those acts, however, in their concentration upon covers of songs originally recorded by R&B/doo wop vocal groups. Their cover of the Chords' "Sh-Boom" set the pattern, going to number one in 1954 and setting the stage for their other commercially successful pop treatments of R&B hits by the Penguins, Gene & Eunice, Otis Williams & the Charms, the Robins, the Spaniels, the Nutmegs, and others.

The Toronto foursome already had a Top Ten hit under their belts with their first major label single, "Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby," before tackling "Sh-Boom"; what's more, their first hit had been a group original, not an R&B cover. When the Crew Cuts got a hold of "Sh-Boom," they gave the song a far more standard, whiter pop treatment than the Chords had, complete with big-band type orchestration. Although the original Chords version still became one of the first Top Ten rock & roll hits, the Crew Cuts' cover outsold it by a wide margin, finding a far easier entrance into established radio formats and mainstream white audiences.

The Crew Cuts were regular visitors to the Top 20 over the next couple of years, repeating the "Sh-Boom" syndrome with songs like "Earth Angel," their second-biggest hit at number three (though nobody remembers the Crew Cuts' version today, the Penguins' original having long established supremacy with audiences and on oldies stations). Their strategy of foraging for sources among black R&B vocal singles was widely imitated throughout the industry, by Pat Boone, the McGuire Sisters, Georgia Gibbs, and numerous others. Many rock historians point out -- with a great deal of justification -- that this amounted to an attempt by the music establishment to buck the oncoming threatening storm of the rock era by watering it down into a much more palatable and conventional form that in reality had little to do with rock at all. For a while, it worked -- the white covers frequently outsold the black R&B originals throughout 1954-1956. But after Elvis, Chuck Berry, and others had staked their own claim on superstardom, it became increasingly obvious that teenagers preferred the real article, and that the entrenchment of authentic rock & roll was inevitable.

Some revisionists have claimed, dubiously, that the Crew Cuts actually helped pave the way for the acceptance of rock in the mainstream by giving all those doo wop songs a far greater audience than they could have found if they were ghettoized in the R&B community. After a while, however, the Crew Cuts themselves were being widely outsold by their sources; "Young Love" (a cover, of course, although this time of the country classic by Sonny James) was their last Top 20 hit in early 1957. Their Mercury hits are far more properly classified as pop vocal outings than rock & roll, owing much more to pre-rock harmony and band arrangements. By 1958, they'd left Mercury for stints with RCA and other labels; they broke up in 1964. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Comments

kmoraine2018
I like how this is on the VIC radio LMFAO!!!!!
Sh-boom Sh-boom. Yadadadadada d a d a a sh-boom
Leo
Monday
iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone iPhone
i love music like this
We never have music like this anymore. Love these old songs
The old day I'm only 11
Boooooo rap!!!! Hoooorrahhhh Classics!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Luv!!!!!!! :)
dragonlady60 8 8
Yep. ...get!
gavandagnese
I love this song so much. I live for the oldies!!
Sucks!!!!
Great music!
mousethief
This is not the version I'm used to.
Im glad music like this is still appreciated you see it in movies and in games and hell it's still on the radio! lol but I occored to me that this is considered oldies so in 40 yearsmaroon 5 and Katey Perry will be considers oldies right? Then what will this be considered?w i l l it even exsist anymore? Will it be remembered? Makes me wonder...... . Enjoy it while it last.
Ah the 1950s...Amer i c a ' s Golden Age...:) unfortunatel y I'm growing up in America's downhill age. Hopefully we'll get to another golden age.
Georjussen, shut the hell up! Why do you have to bring race into this? I'm sick of YOUR type, including the white supremacists .
Thanks to the BLACK composers, arrangers and especially performers who were the inspiration for all my white brothers who recognized art & how to slip it to my generation's slow learning curve. Just sorry that the originators missed out on the vast cash flow.
To all of you folks who said you wished you'd been young in the 50's - Thanks for validating my joyous recollection s of the times. I'm now 81 and share the disgust that old folks have felt for current music since time began. Not very original of me but WOW! it was great! The best of times - having been raised on big bands and vocal ballads of the 30's & 40's and smoothing into my twenties as a White kid enjoying the 'sanitized' art of Nat 'King' Cole, The Ink Spots, The Mills Brothers et al.
I wasn't in the studio when they made these records, but it works for me to just say here's a contemporary male vocal quartet mining R&B, doo-wop, and rock and roll for new material. And making good music. And earning royalties for the songwriters. Rock on, Crew Cuts!
pvc3434
Wonderful song! I love it!
Love the harmonizing, great song.
New movie...plan e s . . . f i r e and rescue!
Chords did it better
cathy9229
I love THIS SONG
Yep cg205!
When I hear this song it reminds me the hit show Happy Days, because they play this song in it almost all the time. Love this music and the show.
Love it!, wish I was a teenager in this era
cg205
First time I heard Sh Boom, it was '54 and I was in the 8th grade, in my school cafeteria where someone had a portable radio. We couldn't believe it....such a RADICAL song. We knew our parents would believe we were all going to hell when they heard it and we were right.
jim.orangebu c k e t
Flash forward 50 years and listen to todays generation going on about how they don't make good music like back in 2014. Makes this 70yr 'old' just smile! Love those OLDIES !!!!!!
The Dick Panthers are better.
Route 66
I like Sh Boom. I can't decide which one is best out of the people I have heard perform it. They do a pretty good job.
Agreed
ljhanczyk
Agreed
Chords do a better job on Sh-Boom - right D K ?
Lee Ving was also in Flashdance and Dudes, probably more. Let's make this thread about the films of Lee Ving, rather than this crew cut b.s.
Who got here from fallout new vegas lol
How about elvis? Yes he's popular, but he stoled a lot of songs from black legends!
you know what else is featured in the movie Clue? Lee Ving from the punk band FEAR. onetwothreef o u r o n e t w o t h r e e f o u r ! ! ! ! ! ! !
I love all versions of this song
Love this music.
Awesomeness in 2 minutes
Lol this is all old and geto
I sort of agree with the character assassinatio n . . b i g g e s t villain was Tab Hunter..thes e guys stole bread from the table. On the other hand my mother and father did let me listen a bit more when they thought the singers were white bread. Check out Wiki on Young Love..first recorded by the Jiva-Tones in Nov 1956 with no results..it got covered by Tab Hunter, Sonny James (himself) and The CrewCuts and ALL hit Billboard charts in Jan 1957 within 3 weeks of each other. Great songs will out!
mcneill_dave
Wow, what a harsh bio! Villains? Because they covered someone else's songs? That makes pretty much everyone since the second guy who rhythmically clonked two rocks together a villain. Classical composers wrote things like Air upon a theme of so-and-so (some other composer)... Every pop act of the last 40 years has covered the Beatles' Yesterday, it seems. Are all these people villains, too? Reality is calling, Mr. Unterberger. . . shall I take a message, or are you ready to return to it?
uou missed a lot if you coiuld see the A Band stand
Does anybody get crew cuts any more?
I love this song :)
if only I grew up during this time ..
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