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Digital Subscriptions > Vintage Rock > Jul/Aug 2019 - Stray Cats > TOP 20 DOC POMUS & MORT SHUMAN

TOP 20 DOC POMUS & MORT SHUMAN

Elvis Presley, The Drifters, Dion, Ray Charles and many other stars beat a path to their Brill Building door for melody, humour and a special brand of heartbreak

American popular music has a proud history of collaborative compositions. At the dawn of the rock era, upholders of the tradition included Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, and Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. However, only a few white wordsmith/composer teams successfully crafted songs drenched in the black blues idiom, emphasising soulful lyric images and jazzy rhythm patterns. These rare partnerships included Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller – and Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, who were particularly noteworthy for crafting hit tunes for artists representing doo-wop, jazz, pop, R&B, and rock’n’roll. Their period of songwriting prominence ran from 1956 through to 1967, after which they drifted apart to collaborate with others. Together they composed in a range of styles from teen idol pop and novelty, to pop and doo-wop, to blues and R&B and outright rock. This selection provides an audio roadmap to rock’n’roll’s highway of hits.

BOOGIE WOOGIE COUNTRY GIRL

ARTIST JOE TURNER

LABEL ATLANTIC

RECORDED 1956

This rollicking Joe Turner number was written by Doc Pomus in conjunction with Reginald Ashby. Unlike other restless young chicks of the 50s, the ones in cool threads who dig the beat, this one’s at home on the farm, even liking milking cows and going fishing. Along with Turner’s typically charismatic singing, the recording benefitted from the work of Van ‘Piano Man’ Walls. The infectious rhythm and cunning lyrics were over-ridden on the pop charts by the success of the recording’s A-side, Corrine Corrina, but it did attain one week of R&B chart recognition, and it’s long since become a standard, sung by the likes of Sleepy LaBeef, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Rockin’ Louie of Shakin’ Stevens and the Sunsets.

LONELY AVENUE

ARTIST RAY CHARLES

LABEL ATLANTIC

RECORDED 1956

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