The Album -- The Velons, "Remeber When." (Maxi Record 111).
Now that harmonizing on the streetcorner is a scene from a Burger King commercial, shoo-wop music is an almost forgotten art. And, although hobbled by the primitive recording and production techniques of 20 years ago, it was an art.Every line had to be separated into four or five distinct notes, and matched to a series of nonsense syllables that wouldn't interfere with the real lyrics.
For the remaining faithful, an album recorded at Washington's own P Street studio, Sounds Reasonable (now Soundwave) and distributed by Schwartz Bros. Inc. offers a brief nostalia trip into shoo-wop.
The Velons -- Gilbert Farrell, Jimmy Falwell, Buddy Owens, Bobby Horn and Carrie Mingo -- have been working together in this incarnation for the past four years, over since the addition of former Four Jewels member Mingo, but they're rooted deep in Washington's black music scene.
The album has a good mix of tempos, and each member of the group sings lead at least once. The instrumental arrangements -- spare and nicely sassy-saxy -- are by Roscoe Bowie. This is not an album for general audiences, nor does it ever forsake nostalgia to explore much new territory. But what it does, it does competently and with obvious pleasure.
The whole album owes a tip of the hat to deejay Alan Lee: Producer Max Oates spotted the Velons last year at one of Lee's oldie-goldie nights at the Howard Theater.