I have several of Sha Na Na's original albums, plus a few CD compilatons, and here are my brief reviews of some of them.
(The older Sha Na Na albums are long out of print - try eBay, used record stores (local or online) and thrift shops to pick these up. For the CDs, check eBay, www.half.com, CDNow and Amazon)
SHA NA NOW
Without a doubt, my favorite Sha Na Na album (I just found a copy of the rare Canadian import CD version, well worth getting on CD if you can find it!). Well, 7 of the 12 songs feature Johnny on lead, so you do the math! (as one member of the Yahoo Sha Na Na Fans group joked, it was Johnny's first solo album, and he was kind enough to let the other guys take the lead on a couple of songs LOL!) The songs are a terrific combination of oldies and modern pop that somehow reside together here in perfect harmony. "Shot Down in Denver" is a strong track with blazing vocals. "Runaway" is a terrific version of the Del Shannon clasic. "The Only Light On My Horizon" is a beautifully mournful but hopeful lament of a young man who left a good woman for a glamorous, shallow siren, and now wants nothing more than to come home. "Basement Party" and "Party Lights" both capture that classic '50's-style longing of a guy for a Saturday night dance with his best girl. And the defining moment of the album is Johnny's hypnotic, haunting cover of The Raspberries' "Don't Want To Say Goodbye." The aching loneliness in his voice is heartbreaking - be prepared to get shivers over the spell he weaves with this one...
A great album (and, like "Sha Na Now," was also released on import CD)! "Dreams Come True" is stunningly beautiful, combining Denny's sweet lead vocals and Johnny's pure, ethereal background falsetto to create a lush, dreamy, unabashedly romantic mood. "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet," "Don't You Just Know It," "Sh-Boom" and Jocko's funny, funky "Too Chubby to Boogie" are great fun. And Johnny's falsetto is put to glorious use as he takes the lead on The Essex's "Easier Said Than Done."
FROM THE STREETS OF NEW YORK
Another great Sha Na Na album - fun renditions of classic tunes are interspersed with hilarious in-between patter beween the guys and the audience, including their famous dance contest. Highlights include their two signature tunes, "Get a Job" and "Goodnight Sweetheart," 'Splish-Splash," the irresistibly fun "Summertime, Summertime," and the beautiful "Chances Are."
THE GOLDEN AGE OF ROCK AND ROLL
This all-time classic double-live album is a must-have for any Sha Na Na collection, featuring songs from "Rock Around The Clock" and "Heartbreak Hotel" to "At The Hop" and "Tell Laura I Love Her." The energy and exuberance of their live shows comes through loud and clear.
This is an LP released by K-Tel, and it's filled with great, classic oldies, done Sha Na Na style. From "Monster Mash" and "Witch Doctor," to "Alley Oop" and "Rockin' Robin," if you love all those fun old '50's tunes, this is a must-have for your collection.
THE NIGHT IS STILL YOUNG
Not their best recording, this has a rather odd, quirky, too-modern feeling to it (unlike the seamless blending of old and new in "Sha Na Now"). There are some good tracks here, however, and the fun doo-wop style love/protest song "(The Vote Song)" and a lovely rendition of "In The Still Of The Night" make it worth checking out.
SHA NA NA (self-titled)
The first side of their second album is a selection of classic oldies that was recorded live at their alma mater, Columbia University, which is a lot of fun and full of the usual energy and fun we've grown accustomed to. The second side features some studio tracks written by Screamin' Scott and Jocko. Worth it at least for the first side, and if your tastes run toward the offbeat, you may enjoy side two as well.
ROCK AND ROLL IS HERE TO STAY
Nice to have for the historical value, as this was their first LP, but the arrangements often seem rather strange and passionless. Plus, as it was recorded before Bowzer and Johnny came aboard, it lacks the vital, distinctive sound and personality that they brought to the group. Not bad, but not exactly the Sha Na Na we know and love, either.
The latest (2002) compilation, this is a must have CD for you greasers out there. Plenty of tunes from their classic albums, many of which aren't available on any other CD compilations. But worth the price alone is the incredible 12-page booklet, filled with lots of wonderful rare photos and a nice writeup about our guys' career. Run out and get this one now!
GREASE FOR PEACE: THE BEST OF SHA NA NA
A fabulous collection of some really great songs, including quite a few of the fun numbers from the "Silly Songs" album ("Charlie Brown," "Witch Doctor," "Monster Mash," etc.). There's also two real gems for us Johnny fans - his gorgeous take on "My Prayer," and his rollicking rendition of "Da Doo Ron Ron." A terrific CD!
A WHOLE LOTTA SHA NA NA
This one features classic rock 'n roll tunes like "Jailhouse Rock," "Runaround Sue," "Great Balls of Fire," and "At The Hop." Many of these are live versions, and while not as good as "Greatest Hits," it's still a whole lotta... fun!
THE BEST OF SHA NA NA
A CD (also available on vinyl) featuring a lot of the live tracks from "The Golden Age of Rock and Roll" album. Perfect for fans of that album who'd love to have some of the best songs on CD.
Ok, so this isn't technically a compilation, but certainly a must for any self-respecting Sha Na Na fan's collection! They contributed 6 songs to the soundtrack, including killer versions of "Rock and Roll is Here To Stay" and "Blue Moon," and the seductive "Those Magic Changes." If you don't have it, go get it!
AT THE HOP
This video CD (playable on Windows and some video game systems) is delightful footage of an early '70's German concert full of great SNN classics like "At The Hop," "Blue Moon," "Tell Laura I Love Her," and "Duke of Earl." An audio CD of the music is also included. Highly recommended for any fan of the group! It's out of print, but comes up on eBay on occasion. There is also a European-format DVD of the same concert with four extra songs.
ROCK 'N ROLL GRAFFITI - LIVE IN JAPAN
A very rare CD recording of an early '80's concert in Japan, and absolutely worth the effort to locate a copy - if just to hear Bowzer speaking Japanese during the dance contest! Highlights include the fun "Trickle, Trickle," the aforementioned dance contest, and Johnny's amazingly gorgeous vocals on "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes."
A new 2002 release, the boys' first holiday recording is a real treat - a blend of traditional favorites and some original tunes. A must-have for your Christmas music collection!
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