The good news is The Coasters have released their first studio album in 35 years. The bad news is The Coasters have released their first studio album in 35 years.
The Coasters are a vocal group that will always be associated with the doo-wop movement of the second half of the 1950’s. Hits such as “Searchin,’” “And Along Came Jones,” “Young Blood,” “Charlie Brown,” and the number one “Yakety Yak” sold millions of copies relying on tight harmonies, memorable melodies, and a sense of humor.
During 1987, The Coasters were enshrined in The Rock And Roll Hall Of fame. Original members Billy Guy, Will Jones, Cornell Gunter, and Carl Gardner were the inductees and there’s the rub. All the original members are gone. Gardner remained with the group until 2005 but there has been a constant rotation of members since 1973. The present line-up is Joe Lance Williams (tenor/baritone), Primo Candelara (tenor), Dennis Anderson (baritone), and Eddie Whitfield (bass).
The current group has been together for a number of years and the harmonies are tight and intact. The problem is they are not the original Coasters. Does that make a difference? It all depends if you are a purist as the music is fine.
It is an album of cover songs that are transferred to a vocal group style and as such, some work better than others. “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Shout,” “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby,” and “Cool Jerk” are all well-known songs from different styles, and while there is nothing bad here, one can’t help but long for the originals.
The Coasters, in one form or another, have been touring for nearly sixty years and one cannot begrudge this group for wanting to produce a new album. It is not an album that is necessary but all in all, it is a pleasant release if you are a fan of 1950’s vocal groups.