STREETLIGHT HARMONIES

STREETLIGHT HARMONIES

(director/writer: Brent Wilson; screenwriter: George Bellias; editor: George Bellias; cast: La La Brooks (The Crystals), Lois Powell (The Chantels), Jay and the Americans, Charlie Thomas (the Drifters), Frankie Lyman (the Teenagers), Anthony Gourdine (Little Anthony and the Imperials), Terry Johnson (the Flamingos), Lance Bass (‘NSync); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Brent Wilson/Theresa Page/George Bellias/Steve Prevesk/Tim Headington; Footnote Films/Gravitas Ventures; 2020)

“Reminds us how the street music from a different era remains legendary and not forgotten even if no longer part of today’s music landscape.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Brent Wilson (“Scouting Camp: Next Olympic Hopeful”) fills the screen with the delightful sounds of doo-wop, the music of favor sung in the bathrooms of the integrated Bronx city high school I attended in the 1950s. The popular white group Dion and the Belmonts were from my nearby neighborhood of the Little Italy section of the Bronx.

 It was the music most of the teens preferred until Rock music exploded on the scene.

Though doo-wop appeals to both blacks and whites, most groups were all black. The film tells of the black groups and their adventures in touring the country and facing discrimination when traveling to perform in the segregated south.

SH abounds with archive footage of the then popular harmonizing groups (such as the Drifters, the Coasters, the Crests, the Del-Vikings, the Orioles, Little Anthony and the Imperials and Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers) and with many talking head interviews. The classics from that period include: “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “In the Still of the Night,” “I Wonder Why,” “Speedoo,” and “Why Must Fools Fall in Love.”

This is the music approved of by the Civil Rights Movement, until doo-wop was supplanted by Motown.

Wilson robustly charts the rise and fall of the period urban music, and reminds us how the street music from a different era remains legendary and not forgotten even if no longer part of today’s music landscape.

REVIEWED ON 4/8/2020  GRADE: B+

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