As a child, I watched Sha Na Na’s syndicated TV variety show. In a lot of ways, they were a whitebread/ wholesome version of KISS. This was in the Dollar pile. It was originally a double album, but there was only one here when I bought it. Furthermore, the gatefold sleeve was torn out.
Sha Na Na formed from an a cappella group in 1969. Their EIGHTH live performance was Woodstock. This blows my mind. Think about it. They were second to last, playing in the a.m. before Hendrix after playing seven shows. According to the drummer, they were paid $350. And to think, they had to at least split that 12 ways. A wise person once told me the ideal size for a band is three members for this reason alone. Back closer to the point, their performance was referenced in the Simpsons when Grandpa Simpson went to Woodstock. However, his sign is totally inaccurate. John “Bowzer” Bauman joined the band about a year later. It should be noted that there is no mention of Bowzer or his involvement in the band on the current Sha Na Na website.
On a side note, Bowzer, I understand, was instrumental in the passage of the Truth in Music Act which guarantees that a touring act has at least one original member. So when you see the Coasters, you can rest assured that there is at least one original member. Which is odd, since Bowzer is not an original member of Sha Na Na. Both Bowzer and Sha Na Na still separately gig here and there.
The first few times I listened to this, in all honesty, I was a little disappointed with this purchase. If you Youtube the band and watch some of their performances (Woodstock for example), you can tell they are a highly visual band. I am not saying this is bad music, but I definitely feel like I am missing something by listening to the record. There is a more vibrant energy to the live tracks as compared to the studio ones. But still, without the three gold suits, the rest of the band in greaser suits, and the choreography, I can’t shake the feeling that I am getting shorted something. Some of the hostility went away after a few listens but again, missing the visual aspect of it. Check out the video below done about the same time as the album. Don’t ask about the spitting. I do not understand it myself.
For a sample, I choose a studio and a live song. For the Studio song, I chose “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” as it is upbeat and showcases the different vocals in the band. For the Live Track, I chose “Rock N Roll is here to Stay”. I always thought there was some brutal honesty in such a radical statement in the original version. When Johnny Cash sings for the beaten and broken down, you believe him. When Dylan says he ain’t going to work on Maggie’s Farm no more, you know believe him. When Wesley Willis tells you to go lick a reindeer’s smelly ass, you know he means it. Likewise, I believe that Danny and the Juniors are sincere when they state that they don’t care what people say, Rock and Roll is here to stay. Or maybe I am just too impressionable and listen to anybody. Anyway, this version has great intro, bleeped out for censorship ( which was the custom at the time).
All things considered, I give this record a satisfactory rating, although I would prefer to watch the Youtube videos.