Oh, how simple it once was. With a perfectly rhythmic 4/4 snap of the fingers, a melodious whistle, and the line “How sweet it is, to be young and in love” we are off into the gorgeous doo-wop world of The Tymes’ “Wonderful Wonderful.” It is but one of the 17 tracks that make up So Much In Love, a killer collection of this vastly underrated five-piece group.
With doo-wop considered such an “ancient” form of rock ‘n’ roll, we tend to think of big names such as Frankie Lymon or Dion, if we think of the music at all. I guess it is just sort of the nature of the beast. Music is by definition disposable. Never more so than today with ringtones and iTunes, but I will save my rants about that for another column. What we have here is an amazing doo-wop group who are nearly forgotten today.
My personal connection is probably of little interest to anyone, but I think it provides a little context to my discovery of this fantastic group of vocalists. I am old enough to remember George Lucas’ first hit film, American Graffiti (1973). While being an undeniably excellent movie, I think that the soundtrack itself had an even bigger cultural impact. It went triple platinum, but more importantly (for me at least) it introduced me to music that was simply not played on the radio at all in 1973. Songs like “Why Do Fools Fall In Love,” and “Goodnight, Well It’s Time To Go,” just knocked me out.
In researching this piece, I was actually very surprised that The Tyme’s most famous track “So Much In Love” was not on the American Graffiti soundtrack at all. It certainly belonged there, but was not included for probably contractual reasons. I may as well finish my digression here by saying that “You Little Trustmaker” from 1974 was my introduction to The Tymes, and I was more than a little disappointed that that cut is not included on So Much In Love, again most likely for contractual reasons.
Be that as it may though, these 17 tracks (including the five “bonus” cuts) are wonderful. There is an indescribable magic to songs like “Almost,” “My Summer Love,” and their version of “The Twelfth Of Never” that is simply a lost art.
The Tymes knew exactly who they were, and even though some thought was obviously put into the arrangements – there was no question as to how the finished product would sound. The adjective “magnificent” is the one that comes to mind here. Certainly great care was taken to preserve the original tapes, and to remaster them – but the performances were spot-on.
It may seem strange to evoke Frank Zappa to wrap up a piece about The Tymes, but I find it fascinating that directly after his scathing indictment of the hippie culture with We’re Only In It For The Money, he recorded a loving tribute to doo-wop titled Cruising With Ruben And The Jets. He understood (and loved the form) unconditionally.
Whether or not Zappa’s respect of this type of music makes any difference to you is probably irrelevant, but I found it interesting. In the end, the doo-wop of The Tymes is a nearly perfect introduction to this style of music. I think that for music fans who have never really been exposed to the music they will be pleasantly surprised at just how fascinating it is. Although So Much In Love will probably be greeted as little more than your parents’ (or grandparents’) music – and geared towards the nostalgia market, I think that is a shame.
Hearing the blends of vocals, and arrangements of The Tymes is revelatory. They had something very special, and for those who occasionally like to take a chance on something “different” – this is one rewarding CD.