In tribute to classic doo-wop and boogie woogie piano

By Bruce Sylvester

A stalwart label in preserving Chicago’s bygone jazz, blues and R&B, the Windy City’s Delmark has just put back in print Chop Chop Boom,” a 24-song comp listed as by The Dandeliers And Other Great Groups On States. It seems that States was a subsidiary of the black-owned United label, which Delmark bought in 1975. The imprint’s biggest success, The Dandeliers’ jiving “Chop Chop Boom,” made number 14 on Billboard’s R&B chart in 1955 – a time of nonsense-word song titles (“Tweedle Dee,” “Bop-Ting-A-Ling,” “Sh-Boom”) among black groups making new inroads in white young-teen markets.

Goldmine’s long-time R&B expert Robert Pruter’s fine notes point out that United/States owner Leonard Allen didn’t mind at all when his cross-town buddy Art Talmadge at Mercury Records had his white Crew Cuts cover “Chop Chop Boom.” After all, Allen owned the song’s publishing rights so he made money on every Crew Cuts single sold.

The CD’s audio is quite good as we delve into worthy but forgotten mid-‘50s doo-wop and falsetto-ballad acts The Strollers, The Drakes, The Palms and The Five Chances. There’s also The Hornets (with tenor Johnny Moore, who later joined The Drifters). An ardent collector once paid $18,000 for their jumping single “Lonesome Baby”/”I Can’t Believe.” The CD provides us with those songs at a substantially lower cost.

Eight tracks remained unissued until this disc. Of the remaining sixteen, “Chop Chop Boom” is the only one that broke Billboard’s R&B top 40. By now, I’ve heard enough obscure ‘50s R&B to know that lack of chart performance doesn’t necessarily reflect on a song’s caliber.

By the way, Delmark ( has also recently put out Boogie Woogie Kings,” continuing its reissue series of tracks once on Euphonic, another small label Delmark has purchased.  Though the audio is nowhere near as clean as Chop’s, we do get classic pianists Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis (who form a triumvirate on “Boogie Woogie Prayer”), as well as ivory men Henry Brown and “Crippled” Clarence Lofton.  Label owner Bob Koester’s notes call Speckled Red’s “The Dozens” the great grandfather of rap. These hard-core piano boogie tracks were recorded in 1938 and 1939 in Chicago except for Brown’s (1960) and Speckled Red’s (1955 and 1971), which are from Saint Louis.

For related items that you may enjoy in our Goldmine store:
• A great resource for record collecting is Goldmine’s “Standard Catalog of American Records, 1950-1975, 6th Edition,” in large paperback and DVD
• Check out an informative read in “The Everything® Rock & Blues Piano Book with CD, Master riffs, licks, and blues styles from New Orleans to New York City”
• If you are into ’50s music, then check out Goldmine’s “Fabulous Fifties with Elvis & Friends” on CD

About Bruce Sylvester

Bruce Sylvester is a regular contributor to Goldmine magazine.

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