Old/New Albums: The Flamingo’s “Flamingo Serenade”

flamingosWe’re staying firmly planted in the ‘50s for my final non-Christmas album review in this blog series. I’d never heard of the Flamingos until recently, but I was unknowingly aware of their cover of the old standard “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

If you know this song, you know this album. In fact, if you’re even vaguely aware of doo wop from the ‘50s, you’ve got a very good sense of this album. I’d say it’s fairly true that most generations scoff at the music that comes after them; my grandparents’ generation dislikes my generation’s music because it’s too loud, too vulgar, too vapid, too insert your favorite negative adjective. And there is obviously truth in that viewpoint; Taylor Swift might be a consistent record breaker, but she has not even a shadow of the social or cultural impact like Marvin Gaye did with What’s Going On.

At the same time though, I listen to this album and just hear one long song. The Flamingos might have an impeccable vocal blend, but there’s not an inch of variety on this whole thing. Doo wop sounds like doo wop sounds like doo wop. At least to my untrained ear it does. Music from the “good old days” isn’t without its own faults.

The tedium found on this album doesn’t have to be a huge slight, especially if you like doo wop. However, if you don’t, you’ll get tired about halfway through the first tune.

But the more I listened to this album, the more I found the classic doo wop sound getting stuck in my mind. The plinky piano riffs, the blend of “oohs” and “aahs” in seventh chords and the like. I’d find myself tapping out the “dun dun duh-duh, dun dun duh-duh” rhythm on the steering wheel or the desk.

Oddly, there were multiple places on the record that seemed heavily reminiscent of country & western music from this time period. Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins, etc., all have these deep voices, heavy on the vibrato, with a backing group lending vocal instrumentation. Trade in the piano for a big-bodied rockabilly guitar and you’ve got essentially the same music.

For my money, I’m filing this album in forgettable. It’s a perfectly fine album, just nothing groundbreaking for me or necessary. Certainly not bad, but kind of a snoozer. I can’t really see myself popping this one on just for the heck of it. The occasional song would be pleasant to hear in a shuffle but that’s kind of where this album lives for me, in a shuffle.

Top 3 Tunes:

  1. I Only Have Eyes For You
  2. But Not For Me
  3. Where Or When
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