You're my favorite number. All that counts is you.
Today I'm going to give you some tunes from The Diskettes and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Ok so I've been planning on writing this entry for a while now and finally got around to doing it today. And wouldn't you know, today is Frankie Lymon's birthday! Craziness. If he was alive today, he'd be 63. So Happy Birthday Frankie!
Now you might be thinking, "What do Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers have in common with The Diskettes?" Well for their 2003 self titled release, The Diskettes did a cover of the teenagers' hit song, ABC's of Love. Earlier this year, my friend Stafford and I were ordering CDRs practically every week from Asaurus Records, a label that specializes in indie pop, lo-fi, and "quiet noise". If you haven't been to the Asaurus store, I suggest you go visit. There's some great stuff there and most of their releases are less than $5. You can really go crazy ordering things from them if you're not careful, which Stafford and I found out when we first discovered the label. Anywho, during my Asaurus shopping spree, I ordered the Diskette's self titled record and loved their sound.
The Diskettes are from Canada and consist of David Barclay and Emily Beliveau. Their sound is a really friendly and happy go lucky sort of indie pop. But there's nothing that fancy in their sound. It's usually just some guitar, David and Emily's dual vocals, and the occasional maraca. Their music is perfect for lounging around and taking it easy with your friends. Their bio on Asaurus puts in perfectly. It reads, "The tunes sit perfectly for the poolside set, those who wear shorts, landlocked surfers, anyone who sells anything homemade, amateur local historians, professional hobbyists and anyone who enjoys wearing canvas deck shoes with no socks for the months of April to October."
Frankie Lymon died in 1968, long before the Diskette's recorded their version of The Teenagers song ABC's of Love. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (originally just called The Premiers) were a doo wop group that formed in New York in the 1950s. In 1955, the group group had been working on a song called Why Do Birds Sing So Gay? Richard Barrett, lead singer of The Valentines, heard them singing one day, and wanted them to audition for George Goldner, owner of Rama Records, the label that The Valentines were signed to.
There are a couple of versions as to what happened the day the group went to audition for George. One was that lead singer, Herman Santiago, was sick with a cold and therefore couldn't sing lead that day. And so Frankie was the one who took over on lead vocals. In the other version of that days events, while Herman sang lead when the group auditioned, Frankie's voice (even singing backup) was the one that really stuck out. Frankie was a cute, 13 year old, bold in his singing style, but with a maturity that only seasoned performers usually possessed. Whatever really happened that day, Frankie became the lead singer, and the group was renamed Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.
In November of 1955, the group recorded Why Do Birds Sing So Gay? (which was retitled Why Do Fools Fall In Love?) at Bell Sound Studios in Manhattan. There would be lots of disputes later on about who actually had written the song (Herman Santiago or Frankie Lymon).
The song received lots of local airplay and entered the Billboard Charts in February of 1956. It would reach # 1 on the R&B charts and #6 on the Pop charts. Frankie Lymon became the first black teenage pop star, and the Teenagers singing style would serve as an initial inspiration for Barry Gordy, who modeled his entire Motown production approach around Frankie's vocal style.
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers were only together for 18 months. In the movie Why Do Fools Fall in Love (the story of Frankie Lymon), you can tell that there was an atmosphere of jealously that sprung up within the Teenagers when they saw that Frankie was becoming the stand out star in the group. Tensions came to a head when the group discovered that the label and Frankie's manager were trying to make Frankie a solo star while leaving the rest of the Teenagers in the dust. Frankie and the group split, and neither would have a successful career afterwards.
As with many child stars, Frankie got caught up in drugs and struggled to stay clean and sober while simultaneously trying to revive is ailing music career. Career wise, he was was pretty much over by the age of 18, and he died of a heroine overdose in 1968 at the age of 26.
If you ever get the chance, definitely watch the movie Why Do Fools Fall in Love? It comes on VH1 every now and then, and Larenz Tate plays a great Frankie Lymon. The story is told from the point of view of Frankie's three ex-wives, who battled in court over the royalties to the song Why Do Fools Fall in Love? One of Frankie's ex-wives was Zola Taylor (played in the movie by Halle Berry), a member of the doo wop group, The Platters. I believe Frankie's last ex wife was the one who got what money was left over in the end, although in 1992 a U.S. Federal Court ruled that Herman Santiago and not Frankie had written Why Do Fools Fall in Love. Anyway, the movie gives great insight into Frankie's crazy life, and his struggle to regain the success he has as a 13 year old boy.
So now that you know a little about the Diskettes and way more than you probably wanted to know about Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, here are some songs to listen to.
First, here are the two versions of ABC's of Love
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers- ABC's of Love
The Diskettes- ABCs of Love
I also really love The Diskettes cover of OMC's How Bizarre which can be found on Asaurus Records' box set You Already Have Too Many CDRs. So here's the Diskette's cover as well as OMC's original version
OMC- How Bizarre (from How Bizarre)
The Diskettes- How Bizarre (from You Already Have Too Many CDRs)
And here are two songs from The Diskette's newly released record Weeknights at Islandview Beach
The Diskettes- 1 2 3 4 5
The Diskettes- Get! Together!
For more Diskettes tracks visit these places:
The Diskettes on Myspace
Official Diskettes site
Ok, now for some more Teenagers stuff. I love the old doo wop sound so I think all of these songs are pretty damn awesome. All of these songs can be found on The Very Best of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Definitely listen to Goody Goody and Baby Baby
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers- Why Do Fools Fall in Love?
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers- I Want You To Be My Girl
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers- Baby Baby
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers- Goody Goody
Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers- Little Bitty Pretty One