June 25, 2007
Rhythm & Blues, Novelty, Doo Wop, Early R&B

Album Review

Although it has different artwork and liner notes, otherwise this 23-track compilation is identical to the 1991 CD compilation The Liberty Years. Even the sequencing of the songs is duplicated. It's not necessarily redundant of The Liberty Years, however, since by the time of this 2007 release, that 1991 anthology was pretty difficult to find. In addition to including both sides of all seven of the Rivingtons' 1962-1964 Liberty singles, it has nine cuts from the sole LP they issued for the label, forming a definitive retrospective of this rockin' vocal group in their most popular period on disc (though they did go on to record for a bunch of other different companies in the '60s). The classically silly manic nonsense hit "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" is here, of course, as are several soundalike follow-ups, the most memorable of which is "The Bird Is the Word" -- which, together with "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow," would form the basis of the Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird." Other tracks, particularly the ballads used on some of their B-sides, illustrate their overlooked proficiency as a straight R&B/doo wop group. The fact is, however, that the flaying energy of the up-tempo tunes with novelty-tinged lyrics represent both what the Rivingtons were best at, and what distinguished them most from the other vocal groups of the time who were bridging the '50s doo wop/R&B era with the '60s rock/soul era. Of the non-A-sides here, the frenetic gospel-soul-rock update of Billy Ward's "Have Mercy, Mercy Baby" is the standout; of the A-sides, "Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow" sticks out as one of the most inventive, crazed uses of nonsense syllables in a rock & roll song, surpassing even its prototype "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" in that regard.
Richie Unterberger, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow
  2. Deep Water
  3. Kickapoo Joy Juice
  4. My Reward
  5. Mama-Oom-Mow-Mow
  6. Waiting
  7. Love Pill
  8. Long Tall Sally
  9. Unchain My Heart
  10. You Are My Sunshine
  11. Happy Jack
  12. Slippin' and Slidin'
  13. Old Time Love
  14. Have Mercy, Mercy Baby
  15. Standing in the Love Line
  16. The Bird's the Word
  17. I'm Losing My Grip
  18. The Shaky Bird, Pt. 1
  19. The Shaky Bird, Pt. 2
  20. Cherry
  21. Little Sally Walker
  22. The Weejee Walk
  23. Fairy Tales
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