Saturday, April 23, 2016


Sometimes the road to a hit can get a bit convoluted. Bobby Byrd and Earl Nelson, the original Bob and Earl, started their careers in the Hollywood Flames, who had a hit in 1958 with "Buzz, Buzz, Buzz". Any of you with a cursory knowledge of doo-wop should know that one, but that's not the hit I'm talking about. At the same time Byrd also recorded as Bobby Day, and he had a hit with "Rockin' Robin". Not talking about that hit either. In 1960, Byrd and Nelson recorded their first records as a duo, and they went nowhere so Byrd resumed the Bobby Day routine, leaving Nelson in the dust. You can't very well record as Bob and Earl without a Bob, so Nelson found himself another Bob, Bobby Relf, who had been in a handful of vocal groups, including two with a young Barry White, the Upfronts and Valentino and the Lovers. I bring up White, because when Bob and Earl version two when into the studio to record "Harlem Shuffle", White did the arrangement, which is epic. I mean it. The way the horns come forward and then move to the background, the drums, the tympani accents, the constant pulse of the high hat, the hand claps. This is the hit I was talking about.

"Harlem Shuffle" was supposedly based on Round Robin's "Slauson Shuffle Time", an instrumental which only bears a resemblance in structure, but is badass in its own right. A link to that is below, along with some of the other stuff, because if I went to the trouble of looking for this stuff, I'll be damned if I'm gonna let the links go to waste.

Bob and Earl - Harlem Shuffle mp3 at Groove Addict
The Hollywood Flames - Buzz,Buzz, Buzz mp3
at Beware of the Blog
Bobby Day - Rockin' Robin mp3 at Keep the Coffee Coming
The Upfronts - It Took Time (streaming) at YouTube
Round Robin - Slauson Shuffle Time (streaming) at YouTube
The full LP:
Bob and Earl - Harlem Shuffle at Groove Addict

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