THE DOCTOR OF DOO-WOP

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Despite the title of this post, what we have here is not a doo-wop record. Nope, this one-off 1970 LP by Dave Antrell is a fine, glistening example of West Coast sunshine pop. Backed by The Wrecking Crew (Blaine, Coleman, Osborn et al), Mr Antrell’s self-penned songs get an A+ production treatment. A very pleasant listen start to finish, but the peak to my is side one’s closer: Lost In A Dream.

Opening with a perfectly plucked bass note, I was hooked before it had even had a chance to fully decay. The fragile falsetto vocal sealed the deal. The song has a wonderfully gentle feel and the understated horn and string arrangements remind me of highly esteemed baroque psych favorites Nirvana (UK, natch). I’ve never been caressed with feathers while floating, half-asleep, on a cloud. But I imagine it must feel kind of like how this sounds.

And as if that’s not dreamy enough, parts of the main song and pretty much all the reprise are run through ye olde flanger effect. Bathing whole parts of the mix in phasing may have been a tad passé by 1970. (It was after all three years since The Small Faces flanged their way into the UK top 10 and US top 20 with ‘Itchycoo Park). But the effect is used here as well as it’s been used anywhere else.

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The record was released on the short-lived Amaret label which operated from Hollywood between 1968 and 1973. The label is probably best known as home to the blues rock band Crow. But boy did they put out some dull records. Definitely skip by anything they put out. If you come across the ‘Now How Blue Cow’ LP by The Triangle though, snag that though. Judy Lynn’s ‘Naturally’ LP is worth grabbing since it features a Paul Williams song, ‘Footprints On The Moon’,  that doesn’t appear to have been recorded by anyone else. And I’m still looking for it myself, but The New Life LP comes highly recommended (and highly priced unfortunately).

Anyways, back to this record, and in particular the ‘Doctor Of Doo Wop’ thing. Well, it turns out that Dave Antrell wasn’t just a recording artist who squeezed out an LP and a few singles on a little known California label. He was also a producer, songwriter and recording artist of many modern doo-wop tracks under a variety of pseudonyms in the 60s and 70s, and he was a legendary collector of vocal group 45s famous within that world for unearthing multiple copies of incredibly rare sides. But best of all, he was apparently a medical doctor. Hence his nickname.

Dave Antrell died before his time in the early 90s. Hopefully he’s out there somewhere floating along, and lost in an eternal dream.

 

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